Coming this fall is an exciting new competition show, Chef in Your Ear, that pits two talented chefs in a face-off to mentor clueless cooks racing to create a fabulous dish against the clock. But there’s a catch. The expert chefs never step into the kitchen; they use ear pieces to feed instructions to the hapless students while trying hard not to lose their patience!
What makes these chefs the experts? Serious credentials, talent and lots of hard work behind them. Here’s what you should know about these five culinary wizards and the delicious dishes featured at their renown eateries.
Photo credit: Virginia MacDonald for campagnolotoronto.com
Craig Harding: The Modern Italian
Toronto-native Craig Harding attributes his first cooking experience to his Italian grandmother. So it’s no wonder that after working at some notable restaurants, including the critically acclaimed Canoe restaurant, he went back to his roots and opened Campagnolo. In a city where there’s no shortage of Italian restaurants, Campagnolo quickly rose to the top — in its first year, it made renowned food critic Joanne Kates’ “Top 100” list in enRoute Magazine.
So what makes his Italian dishes a cut above? Harding mixes modern influences with his grandmother’s traditional homemade recipes. One of the restaurant’s most popular dish happens to be taken straight from his Venetian grandmother’s recipe book. Craig says, “I can only do lasagna one way — the way my grandmother did it.” This classic recipe includes a meat ragu cooked down with rosemary, white wine and tomato sauce layered between thin egg noodles and a blend of three cheeses.
Photo credit: bestellen.ca
Rob Rossi: The Meat Man
You might recognize this celeb chef as the second place winner in the first season of Top Chef Canada. Rob Rossi has over 15-years of experience under his belt and several stints at top-rated restaurants such as Canoe, Habitat and Mercatto in Toronto, as well as The Chef’s Table in Calgary. Rob is currently the chef and owner of Toronto’s Bestellen, a European eatery that mixes the influences of his German and Italian heritage. The house specialty is an impressive whole roast suckling pig to feed a crowd. Another must-try dish is the gourmet burger served on brioche buns that’s baked in-house.
photo credit: eatnorth.ca; twitter.ca/eatflock
Cory Vitiello: The Chef of All Trades
Cory Vitiello has been cooking up a storm since the age of 15 when he started his own catering business out of his family home. Dubbed Toronto’s best new chef in 2009 by Now Magazine, Cory worked as a sous chef in Melbourne, Australia and the chef de cuisine at Toronto’s The Drake Hotel before moving on to open his own acclaimed restaurants The Harbord Room and THR & Co. The Harbord Room was named one of the best world-wide hot spots by Condé Nast Magazine and one of the best new restaurants in Canada by enRoute Magazine. The one thing that all of Vitiello’s dishes have in common? They are fresh, simple, yet never ceases to amaze.
Make sure to check out his new restaurant, Flock, which specializes in all things poultry. Vitiello says that a good roast chicken is his favourite meal, so you know that this rotisserie will be like none other!
Jordan Andino: The Perfectionist
You may recognize Jordan Andino‘s enigmatic smile from Food Network shows such as Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay. Toronto-born and California-raised, Andino was introduced into the culinary world at a young age. His father was the chef at Toronto’s North 44 where Jordan had his first job. From there, Andino went on to receive training from legendary culinary masters including Jean Georges Vongerichten, Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller. He has worked as an executive chef at three restaurants in New York City, including his current gig at Harlow East.
A little trivia fact: Andino is also a personal chef to many celebrities. He takes a personal approach to cooking and can whip up just about anything that’s desired, from a Korean-cut Filipino BBQ short ribs that he made for Willow and Jaden Smith to his butter-poached lobster that’s a favourite of the Kardashians.
Devin Connell: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
At 10-years-old, Devin Connell was already an enterprising young lady in food. She started her own business selling her Devin’s Delights cookies to a local health food store. Of course, with her family behind her — they established ACE Bakery — it’s no wonder she had such culinary prowess.
After spending time cooking at the renowned Slanted Door restaurant group in San Francisco, Connell returned to Toronto to become a hit in the food scene with several eateries, including the now-closed popular chicken and doughnut joint, Paulette’s Original Donuts and Chicken. Devin currently runs multiple locations of her gourmet lunch counter, Delica Kitchen, which focuses on serving fresh, high quality, authentic food.
Photo credit: delicakitchen.ca
Watch the series premiere of Chef in Your Ear Monday, August 31 at 10E/T.