All Things Food: Tastes of Tuscany Brought to Toronto

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When foodie travel dreams take people to Italy – a little of Italy comes to Toronto

When foodie travel dreams take people to Italy, Tuscany is often their first stop. There’s something almost seductive & intimately charming about the region and its rustic good living. There is a lot to see and do in Tuscany; the true difficulty really, is where to start. Certainly most travelers should start with Florence, and then continue on to other top spots such as Siena and Pisa. The amazing list of “città di arte”(cities of art), is daunting: Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano and Lucca are all striking places to explore and the more you come to know the region, the more extraordinary Tuscany appears.

One mere kilometer from Siena immersed in a pristine countryside you’ll find a XIV century Carthusian monastery built in 1314, La Certosa di Maggiano. Among the first hotels in Italy to join the Relais et Chateaux Association, it turned into a Relais et Chateaux Hotel in 1978. This enchanting place which is dressed by light and natural luxury, carefully designed & interpreted by the famous architect/interior designer, Renzo Mongiardino.http://www.certosamaggiano.com

Immersed within 6 acres of parks and gardens, the Hotel Certosa di Maggiano offers to its visitors all the typical amenities of a luxury hotel with the addition of a gourmet restaurant, Il Canto, which it has been inducted since 2010 among the World’s Best 50 Restaurants.

The “art of the table” at Il Canto of Le Certosa di Maggiano brings people together throughout the pleasure of eating well while enjoying the beauty of the surrounding nature and the quality of the food ingredients that the chef Paolo Lopriore carefully selects and transforms enhancing their true essence and flavors.  “Il Canto” restaurant or “the chant” in Italian is home to one of Italy’s most noted courageous and innovative culinary artists, Chef Paolo Lopriore.

A mere kilometer away from the spectacular medieval city of Sienna, sits the Hotel Certosa di Maggiano- a 5-star, Relais et Chateaux property that was once a Carthusian monastery built in 1314. “Il Canto” is the hotel’s much lauded restaurant (considered one of the best restaurants in Italy, according to the Gambero Rosso Guide which awarded Il Canto its “Three Forks” title) where Chef Paulo Lopriore helms the kitchen.

A one-time student of Italian culinary master Gualtiero Marchesi (Milan), who has given title to Lopriore as his best pupil, the chef has also honed his craft in Florence at Enoteca Pinchiorri, France’s fabled Maison Troigros and at the Bagatelle in Oslo, Norway with Eyvind Hellstrom. These days, Chef Paulo Lopriore is known for creating a symphony of flavours by taking simple ingredients and elevating them to an art form, a modern twist on traditional Italian. By experimenting with textures and consistencies, using some of the raw, seasonal ingredients of Tuscany’s fertile countryside, it’s said a meal at Il Canto is a “multi-sensorial dining experience”. In 2002, he took over as Head Chef of Il Canto, moving up in ranking 39 in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011.

So imagine – the Stratford Chef School’s “International Celebrity Chef in Residence Series” brought Italian Culinary Maestro- Paolo Lopriore from Tuscany’s “Il Canto” to Ontario, Canada. Your tastebuds just might be tingling about now – if only you were a student chef – oh the enjoyable work you would be set upon in that kitchen! http://stratfordchef.com/

“According to the Stratford Chef School’s co-founder Eleanor Kane, bringing global culinary stars to Stratford is a key program that sets this culinary school apart.  “Providing first contact with international restaurant chefs is important in our recruitment strategy. During his 2010 visit to the Stratford Chefs School, Paolo’s creative use of ingredients, his exacting approach and attention to detail made a huge impact on students and our culinary instructors. We anticipate another exciting immersion into Italian cooking and culture” says Kane.”

Some of the dishes Chef Paulo Lopriore created and taught while in Stratford included:

  • Beef Carpaccio with Black Truffles
  • Riso al Nero di Seppia (Risotto in black squid ink)
  • Squab with Vin Santo
  • Lobster with Sweet Peppers

And the Desserts:

  • Meringata… Che Passion! (Meringue… What Passion!)
  • Semifreddo with Smoked Sugar

After a list of menu items like this -how can you not want to try and get in on the amazing talents that the Stratford Chef School brings in, but also hop on a plane and heading to Tuscany to visit Chef Paulo at Il Canto and enjoy a stay at Le Certosa di Maggiano – you definitely won’t be disappointed.http://www.relaischateaux.com/certosa

© Deborah Peniuk 2012

Photo Credits of Chef Paulo Lopriore to Terry Manzo of Zenfolio www.zenfolio.com

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