The stadium is stocked, the secret ingredients are selected and the battles are set – but whose cuisine will reign supreme? Each week, Iron Chef Canada sees one notable chef from across the country, spanning from Vancouver, B.C. to Montreal, QC, competing in a head-to-head competition for culinary supremacy.
Meet the 10 Canadian chefs stepping into Kitchen Stadium to battle against the renowned Canadian Iron Chefs, Hugh Acheson, Amanda Cohen, Lynn Crawford, Rob Feenie, and Susur Lee in ambitious culinary show-downs.
Chef Paul Boehmer, Toronto, ON
Chef Paul Boehmer’s commitment to fine cuisine spans over three decades. Paul apprenticed under the noted chef Michael Stadtländer in 1983, and moved to Scaramouche in 1985 as chef tournant. In 1987, he went on to Bistro 990 as sous chef. Paul rejoined Michael Stadtländer at Nekah before becoming the Chef of Lakes Bar and Grill in 1990. He advanced to executive chef at Opus Restaurant from 1992 to 2001. One year later, the Prince of Wales Hotel welcomed Paul as the executive chef of escabeche. Praise of Paul Boehmer’s cuisine have appeared in notable publications including Toronto Life, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun and more. Paul opened Böehmer in early 2010. As chef and owner, he offers affordable upscale dishes featuring locally grown Canadian ingredients.
Chef Shane Chartrand, Enoch, AB
Shane Chartrand, of the Maskekosak (“People of the Land of Medicines”) from Enoch Cree Nation, is one of Canada’s leading chefs, and on the forefront of the re-emergence of Indigenous cuisine in Canada. He is the executive chef of SC Restaurant at River Cree Resort & Casino in Enoch, Alberta. Shane was taught by his Métis father and Mi’kmaq and British mother how to grow and respect food through raising livestock, hunting, and fishing. When he relocated to Edmonton to pursue culinary training, his work ethic and passion for cooking had him training in some of the best restaurants and hotels. He has competed on Chopped Canada, was part of the prestigious international chef contingent of Cook It Raw — Alberta 2015. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge to promote understanding and respect within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Chef Fisun Ercan, Montreal, QC
Fisun Ercan was born and raised in a small town at the Aegean Sea Coast in Turkey. After working in finance and computer programming she decided to pursue her childhood passion, cooking. Realizing that Turkish cuisine was not well known in Canada, she decided to open her restaurant, Su, in 2006 to share her way of eating with Montrealers. She published her cookbook of the same name in 2011. Between 2013 and 2018, she was also executive chef and co-owner of restaurant Barbounya. She hosts cooking classes and represents Turkish cuisine at culinary events. Her passion for cooking starts with responsibly produced ingredients, and 2018 she bought a small farm to supply organic vegetables for her restaurant.
Chef Jonathan Gushue, Fogo Island, NL
For Chef Jonathan Gushue, locality is expressed when nature and culture come together through food. After more than two decades away from his home province, Newfoundland-born Gushue returned to his roots as Executive Chef of Fogo Island Inn in February 2018. Gushue’s work experience throughout Canada, England, France, and Japan have further influenced his precise style of cooking that balances imagination and tradition with a focus on the still-wild world. Gushue works with Fogo Island Inn’s kitchen team to add human knowledge to natural offerings and reflect a place-specific food identity.
Chef Stefan Hartmann, Vancouver, BC
International culinary talent Stefan Hartmann added a pinch of true star power to the Tacofino family when he joined the brand as Regional Executive Chef in May, 2017. Hailing from Uelzen, Germany, Hartmann honed his skills working for acclaimed chefs in some of Europe’s top restaurants, including Michelin-starred establishments Le Canard in Hamburg and Jacques Maximin in France before opening his own eponymous restaurant in Berlin in 2007, where he earned culinary awards such as Master Chef and Newcomer of the Year before being bestowed with a prestigious Michelin Star in 2010. His extensive and well-travelled resume also includes turns as a restaurant consultant and executive chef for establishments in Los Angeles, Oaxaca, Mexico and Berline before coming to Vancouver in 2015. In his role at Tacofino, Hartmann collaborates with cofounder and owner Jason Sussman to oversee menu development and continued expansion for the brand as well as help mentor up-and-coming cooks.
Chef Nick Hodge, Montreal, QC
Born and raised near Houston, TX, Nick opened a small campus café serving sandwiches to hippies to pay for Literature and Philosophy studies. After, while travelling, Nick worked in restaurants and bars in Spain, Ireland, and the US, including Alaska. In 1996, he moved to Montreal, where he co-created café java u and java u catering, opening over 30 cafes in Canada, the US, and the Middle East, and establishing one of Montreal’s largest catering services. In 2008, Nick opened Kitchenette, an up-scale restaurant serving evolved Southern cuisine to rave reviews. In 2010, Nick launched Icehouse in the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal; a tiny restaurant made in 90 year-old barn wood with two big garage doors that, when opened wide in summer, can make you feel like you’re on vacation even on a school night. In 2015, Nick and his wife, Nathalie, started Sugaree Farm; growing organic vegetables for their family, for sale at their farmer’s market, and for Montreal’s very best restaurants.
Chef Duncan Ly, Calgary, AB
Chef Ly is one of Calgary’s most well-respected and award-winning chefs. Originally from Lethbridge, his career has found him working at some of the country’s most esteemed dining establishments including Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn, Vancouver’s Diva and Calgary’s Catch, Hotel Arts, Kensington Riverside Inn and as Culinary Director for The Vintage Group of restaurants. During his career, Chef Ly has won numerous competitions including two second-place finishes in Gold Medal Plates Calgary, followed by a win in 2014. He then competed at the national Gold Medal Plates competition where he placed second. In earlier years, Chef Ly was awarded the prestigious Karl Schier award as Vancouver’s Top Apprentice and represent Canada at the Bocuse d’Or, one of the top international culinary competitions held in France.
Chef Giuseppe "Pino" Posteraro, Vancouver, BC
Giuseppe “Pino” Posteraro was born in Lago, Italy. After beginning medical school in Europe, Pino changed tracks to work for his brother at his restaurant in Canada. The experience inspired Pino to further pursue culinary training, and he returned to Europe to study with Armando Zanetti, who became his mentor. From there, he worked in several well-known restaurants in Europe and Singapore. In 1999, Pino decided it was time to venture out on his own, and he opened Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill in Yaletown in September of that year. The Italian-Mediterranean restaurant has earned many awards for its food and wine, and year after year, it is classed as one of Vancouver’s top fine dining restaurants. Cioppino’s is visited by celebrities, oenophiles and food lovers alike.
Chef Ivana Raca, Toronto, ON
Chef Ivana Raca has achieved unparalleled success in a traditionally male-dominated field. Chef Ivana was accepted into the Humber College Cuisine Apprenticeship program and by sixteen she was at North 44, Chef Mark McEwan‘s celebrated Toronto restaurant where she was promoted to the position of saucier within three years. She rose through the ranks, and became sous chef on the team that opened ONE Restaurant. At 23, she became the first female Executive Chef of McEwan Foods. She later headed to Australia for two years as she worked under two-star Michelin Chef Paul Froggatt at the Palazzo Versace. In 2015 Ivana opened Raca Café in Parkdale, nominated best new restaurant in 2016 by Now Magazine. She is now partner in the acclaimed restaurant UFFICIO. In 2018 Ivana partnered with Brad Smith to open up Resto Boemo which was voted best burger in Toronto and serves the gnocchi that beat Bobby Flay. A year later they opened the health-inspired Chefs Table by Boemo.
Chef Scott Vivian, Toronto, ON
Born in Montreal to an Indian mother and Italian father, food has always been an important part of Scott’s life. After cooking in top kitchens in Atlanta and Portland, Scott returned home to Canada where he worked for Tobey Nemeth at the Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar. After a year he was promoted to chef de cuisine of Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner where local food procurement was an everyday occurrence. In June of 2010 Scott was able to fulfill his dream of owning a restaurant by taking over the culinarily historical space on 96 Tecumseth Street. His passion of supporting local artisans is the number one philosophy at Beast Restaurant. With a weekly changing menu, Scott allows seasonal produce and top quality Ontario ingredients to become the focal point of the gastronomic experience that is offered.
Chef Jason Bangerter, Cambridge, ON
Chef Jason Bangerter is notably an influential leader in the culinary industry and his career spans nationally and internationally, working alongside some of the world’s greatest chefs. Chef Jason’s unbridled passion for excellence is fueled by his dedication to supporting and developing sources for sustainable, responsibly produced ingredients. He has successfully crafted a talented team that shares his philosophy and vision. He is equally proud of his role as an innovator and a mentor, continuing to have a profound effect on Canada’s culinary scene. Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa welcomed Executive Chef Jason Bangerter in 2013. Inspired by his exceptionally high personal standards, Langdon Hall’s culinary direction continues to be honoured as the only restaurant in Ontario to be awarded the AAA/CAA Five-Diamond rating.
Chef Ned Bell, Vancouver, B.C.
Chef Ned Bell is a long-time sustainable seafood ambassador and the Ocean Wise executive chef based at the Vancouver Aquarium. Bell’s cooking philosophy is globally inspired and locally created. His love of travel has taken him around the world, cooking up a storm along the way. With the support of the Ocean Wise seafood program, Bell founded Chefs for Oceans in 2014 to raise awareness about sustainable seafood by riding his bike across Canada. He is also the author of Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes from the West Coast and was awarded the Global Seafood Award for Advocacy at the 2017 Seaweb Seafood Summit. Bell’s diverse background includes seven seasons on Food Network Canada’s Cook Like a Chef and he has been recognized as Canada’s Chef of the Year at Food Service and Hospitality magazine’s 2014 Pinnacle Awards, Best Overall and Rising Star by Where magazine and Top 40 Foodies Under 40 by Western Living magazine in 2008.
Chef Alex Chen, Vancouver, B.C.
Alex Chen got his first taste of the restaurant industry in Vancouver, working as a dishwasher and busboy after emigrating with his family from Malaysia at the age of 13. From that humble start, Chen went on to build an impressive resume with over a decade of experience at some of North America’s most acclaimed hotels. A classically-trained chef with a true taste for high-pressure culinary competitions, Chen led Team Canada to a top-10 finish at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon, France before opening Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar. Earlier this year, Chen was awarded the ‘Chef of the Year’ title at the 2018 Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards. When Chen isn’t in a restaurant, he loves to cook for family and friends and finds that is when he creates some of his best work.
Chef John Horne, Toronto, ON
In his role as district executive chef at Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality, John Horne oversees the culinary direction at Canoe, Auberge du Pommier, Jump, Biff’s Bistro, and Liberty Commons, where he incorporates his passion for refined flavours, seasonal ingredients and explosive presentation. After graduating from the Niagara College Culinary Management program, John worked at Almeida in London, England then honed his French techniques for seven years as the senior sous chef of Auberge du Pommier. In 2010, John was appointed chef de cuisine at Canoe in Toronto. John was featured on In The Weeds and on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. In 2016, John’s leadership and culinary creativity helped Canoe earn a coveted four-star review from Chris Nuttall-Smith in The Globe and Mail. Today, Canoe is consistently ranked among the country’s top restaurants by Canada’s 100 Best.
Chef Marc Lepine, Ottawa, ON
Marc Lepine studied and worked in Toronto, France, and Italy before moving to Ottawa, where he completed his sommelier certification and was twice named ‘Ottawa Chef of the Year’ by the Canadian Culinary Federation. Marc opened Atelier in November 2008, which was named one of Canada’s best new restaurants by Air Canada’s enRoute magazine, and has placed in Canada’s 100 Best restaurants all four years it has been published. In February 2016, Marc became the ‘Canadian Culinary Champion’ making him the only chef to ever win the national Gold Medal Plates competition twice, having won previously in 2012. In 2017, Atelier received the coveted 4 diamond award from CAA, and Marc was named Ontario Restaurateur of the Year by the OHI. In 2018, Marc was named the ‘Most Innovative Chef in Canada’ by Canada’s 100 Best Magazine. His first cookbook, titled Atelier is due out in September 2018.
Chef Nick Liu, Toronto, ON
Nick Liu started in George Brown’s Culinary Management Program and from there received an internship at Scaramouche in Toronto where he worked for nine years, with a one-year sabbatical working in Tuscany, Italy before travelling and cooking his way through England and Australia. Chef Liu had the honour of representing Canada for the G20 summit and The Pan Am Games. In 2012, Chef Liu participated in the Queens Jubilee where he was asked to prepared a dish for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Most recently Chef Liu was awarded the Glenfiddich Chef of The Year. Chef Liu started GwaiLo PopUp and his current project as executive chef and partner of DaiLo. DaiLo has gained critical acclaim, including the top ten Best Restaurants in Toronto list from both The Globe and Mail and Toronto Life magazine, and nationally earned a 4th place rating in enRoute magazine. DaiLo has also made Canada’s 100 Best restaurants list, placing in the top twenty for two years in a row.
Chef Brandon Olsen, Toronto, ON
Originally from Burlington, ON, Chef Brandon Olsen trained and worked in Toronto in his early twenties. He then moved to California’s Napa Valley in 2006 to work for Thomas Keller’s famed restaurants: the French Laundry, ranked the world’s best restaurant during Olsen’s stint, and Ad Hoc. When Olsen returned to Canada, he found himself in Grant van Gameren’s kitchen at the newly opened Black Hoof and then Bar Isabel as its chef de cuisine. Olsen left Isabel in 2014, and after nearly two decades working for some of the world’s best chefs and helming two of Toronto’s top restaurants, Brandon was ready to go out on his own and in January 2017 he opened Restaurant La Banane in Toronto. Olsen also launched CXBO Chocolates, the lovechild of chef and chocolatier Olsen and artist and filmmaker Sarah Keenlyside. Their combined passion for food and art inspire their chocolate confections.
Chef René Rodriguez, Ottawa, ON
René Rodriguez grew up in Mexico and started cooking at the age of 12. René mastered his skills as a sous chef at Ironwood café and Luna Bar and Kitchen, and later, after cooking at Fifth Floor Restaurant under executive chef George Morrone, René returned to Ottawa working as chef de cuisine at ARC The Hotel. He then worked as chef de cuisine at Social Restaurant and Black Cat Café and executive chef at Luxe Bistro. In 2008, Rene opened his first restaurant, Navarra, to great accolades and reviews. René’s television career began in 2002 when he appeared on Food Network Canada’s Cook Like a Chef. In 2014 René competed on Top Chef Canada, Season 4, going on to become that season’s winner and earning the prestigious title. René then went on to compete on Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay, coming out victorious. Currently, René is chef consultant at Common Eatery and Café and his cookbook Unattainable Perfection launches in spring 2019.
Chef Danny “Smiles” Francis, Montreal, QC
Chef Danny Francis is the chef de cuisine at Le Bremner in Montreal. In 2013, Danny competed on season 3 of Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada and was declared first runner-up. Danny’s cooking career began in the dish-pit at his parents’ small hotel in Montreal when he was 14, where he realized there was no turning back – he had discovered his passion. Danny attended St Pius X culinary institute in Montreal and after graduating he headed to Italy, where he interned for Michelin Star chefs in the cities of Brescia and Soverato. On his return to Montreal, Danny started working under chef and co-owner Chuck Hughes at Le Bremner and rose to the position of chef de cuisine. Most recently he starred with Chuck Hughes in Chuck & Danny’s Road Trip for Food Network Canada, where they explored and ate their way across Canada.
Chef Laura White, Toronto ON
Laura White has been curious about sweets since she was six years old and melted all the chocolates in her advent calendar to make something “better”. Since then she has attended George Brown College for culinary management, initially working as a savoury cook, only finding her true home in 2000 as the opening pastry chef of Susur Restaurant. Four years later, Laura went back to chocolate making at JS Bonbons, then Xoco Cava, Auberge du Pommier, and now she happily offers strangers warm cookies at Forno Cultura. Laura is also a pastry fanatic who brings freshly made biscotti to musicians as a thanks for the art they make.