Tag Archives: stratford chef school

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

Passion + France = LOVE (a foodie crush)

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Foodie Love

There is nothing like meeting someone who is as passionate about what they do as you are and this was the case when I was invited to interview Michelin star Chef Alexandre Gauthier this January. A favoured choice by Alain Ducasse and Gordon Ramsay, Chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillère participated in Stratford Chefs School’s Chef in Residence for the second time bringing Pascal (his maitre d’ hotel) and Nicholas (his sous chef).

As a week long event at the school(from January 24 through January 28, 2011), this allowed Chef Alexandre to work closely with the students, shopping daily for the evening’s menu and being a passionate mentor to the students for the evening services. The Celebrity Chef in Residence program offers students and staff of Canada’s premier culinary institute the opportunity to expand their culinary repertoire while learning from, and cooking with, the finest international chefs.

The family restaurant La Grenouillère, in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France is currently closed and experiencing a massive transformation into Chef Alexandre’s new vision and I for one am extrememly excited to see the final outcome. Not only will this be a reborn restaurant keen to a highlighted patron experience but also a 12 room Auberge with herb and flower gardens. (For those not in the know, an auberge is by definition: an inn or tavern providing overnight lodging for travelers) What an amazing experience this will become for those enjoying the new décor and the rustic, etheral setting with a small castle atop the hill in the backdrop and his fantastic cuisine.

Chef Gauthier has been the chef at La Grenouillère since 2003. The family restaurant is located in Montreuil-sur-Mer, France (a village mentioned in Victor Hugo’s novel Les Miserables). He has worked with chefs Régis Marcon (Au Clos des Cimes), Michel Roth (Lasserre), and Grégory Coutanceau (Les Flots). In 2007, Chef Gauthier received his first Michelin star and brought back the star that had been missing from La Grenouillère since 2001.

The iconic chef Alain Ducasse encouraged Chef Gauthier’s talent early on in his career, inviting him to the famed Plaza Athénée to make two dishes (including an notable appetizer of soft & hard-shell clams- C’est tres bonne!). Chef Gauthier defines his cuisine as Cuisine Délurée (“smart”, “subtle”,”forward”,”impertinent and pertinent”), using French & Japanese techniques(offset plating) to create his distinctive dishes.

Amongst the many words that come across the many articles about this noteworthy chef – “radical”, “authentic”, “pertinent”, “provocative”, “wild”, “and “robust”.Chef Alexandre is the Ultimate recycler when it comes to ingredients and pays homage to all the food sources on his menu. He promises that there will be no “frontier” between the chef and the customer including lots of glass and open spaces with iron, leather and large fire pits to complete the new experience.

I would challenge anyone to not agree that this young chef, who has already accomplished so much, is an example of a Spiritual Entrepreneur who is following and actioning his dreams – making them a reality – great energy to be aligned with as a fellow entrepreneur myself.

When I asked this amazingly talented man to choose one word to describe him, he paused, challenged to find just one word and then said “PASSIONATE” et “UNCONVENTIONAL”. Certainly two words that make the tastebuds tingle in anticipation of the next outpouring from this extremely talented chef.

I will be taking a group to France later this year and will encorporate the short 2 hour drive from Paris to visit to the newly renovated resto & auberge to experience Chef Alexandre Gauthier on his own homefront stage.

Look for more about this amazing chef and upcoming trips designed by AYA Life.

Best dishes til then travellers and foodies alike.

Links::

Alexandre Gauthier

La Grenouillere www.lagrenouillere.fr

Alexandre Gauthier and William Elliott

Froggy’s Tavern www.froggystavern.com