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Chef's Kitchen

Two local chefs prepare for the Almost Famous Chef Competition in Toronto

Kelly Marion
Feb 13th, 2013

Photos by Kelly J Marion -- follow her at @kellyjean247

Matt Cusano and Kevan Hafichuk, two student chefs in Vancouver, are preparing for a North America-wide chefs' event in Toronto.

Known as the S. Pellegrino ALMOST Famous Chef Competition, it acts as a mentoring program that connects top culinary students with established chefs and influential media. Since its inception in 2002, it has helped to launch hundreds of culinary careers while refining the skills of a new generation of chefs across Canada and the United States.

The two talented Vancouver lads who have earned their entry in to the competition have been practising hard to fine-tune their dishes and work on their presentation skills. They will unveil their creation in front of judges at the semi-finals at the end of February, leaving Vancouver on the 24th.

The spirited culinary competition ultimately strives to find today’s next chef prodigy with criteria emphasis on top-notch ingredients, lavish flavours, and a creative approach. 

Whitewater Cooks with Friends: Interview with Shelley Adams

Monica Reyes
May 20th, 2012

Shelley Adams of Nelson, BC is the author of the Whitewater Cooks series. Adams and her husband, Mike, owned Whitewater Ski Resort where she ran Fresh Tracks Café. Patrons began asking for recipes and so her first book Whitewater Cooks: Pure, Simple and Real was born. Her latest book, Whitewater Cooks with Friends, is currently number one on The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia. It is a collection of recipes from Adams' friends as well as her own that focuses on simplicity and are not labour intensive.

Your books have garnered a lot of attention via word-of-mouth. What do you think draws people to your recipes?

Flaky apple turnovers for fall

Monica Reyes
Nov 19th, 2011

Photo by Monica Reyes.

Apples are abundant during fall. The chilly weather invites me to turn on the oven and make something warm and comforting. Apple turnovers are a perfect fit; there's nothing better than the aroma of apples and cinnamon wafting through the air.

Instead of traditional puff pastry, sour cream makes the dough easy to mix up. Still, this dough needs to be chilled a couple of times in order to produce a wonderful puffy and flaky pastry. To make the process easier, you can split the chilling steps over a few days.

Kitchen Tips:

  • Be sure to cut the apples into small pieces. The larger they are, the harder it will be to fold the dough over them.
  • Once the turnovers have been formed, you can freeze them to bake later. Freeze them on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, and then put them in a Ziploc bag.
  • Variations: bits of cheese in the filling or on the pastry, adding a bit of cardamom, nutmeg and ginger to the filling, or jam for a homemade Pop Tart.
  • Try and make a tight seal to prevent the filling from oozing out.


Stuffed brioche french toast with grilled summer peaches from your BBQ

Paul Voykin
Jul 31st, 2011

Stuffed brioche french toast

The 22nd annual Weber Canadian GrillWatch Survey is the nation’s foremost study on who, what, where and why Canadians grill. While 96% of Canadians admit the grill is primarily used for cooking dinner, half (51%) would be interested in learning to prepare breakfast or brunch on the grill.

Asparagus, tomato, and feta fritata - recipe coming soon.

Just over one-quarter of Canadians (28%) have already prepared breakfast or brunch on a grill, and women in particular are very interested in improving their skill at the grill with breakfast meals (15%).

To help aspiring brunch hosts get grilling, Weber has provided an adventurous recipe from the new Weber’s Time to Grill cookbook:

Unraveling the cookie within a cookie

Angel Cheung
Mar 24th, 2011

Is this a dream, or is this reality?

Introducing the chocolate chip and Mars bar cookie that encloses a double-stuffed Oreo.  The classic chocolate chip cookie has been taken to a whole new level. I call this the Alexander McQueen of cookies.

This 'Cookie within a Cookie' is guaranteed to leave your taste buds in shock and awe. Feel free to spin a top to double-check if you're dreaming.

Preparation time: 20-25 minutes
Cooking time: 12- 15 minutes (Depending on the thickness of the cookies)
Recipe Makes 10-12 Cookies (Depending on how monstrous you make them)

Chocolate Chip & Mars Bar Cookie Dough

3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks of Mars Bar, chopped
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
A generous  dose of vanilla extract (I always double what recipes call for; in this case I added about 1 1/2 tbps of vanilla extract)


Pork braise for a snowy Vancouver day

Kari Chellouf
Feb 25th, 2011

These are just waiting to turn into hunks of burning love.  Photos by Luis Valdizon.

It is deceptively cold outside. This teasing sunshine and bitter frostiness is not cutting it in my book, and I almost want to run into a pile of blankets and hibernate until June.

One of my favourite ways to warm up with food is with a hearty stew, curry, or a braised dish. I was daydreaming about a pork recipe from back in culinary school when my man played a fantastic video of a similar dish being made by The River Cafe, and that settled it. Wintry refuge was to be found in curdled milk, and meat that was so tender it fell apart.

This recipe is simple comfort food and, in terms of ingredients, things are played fast and loose. It's easy to be very general with this recipe; throwing things in until they look, smell, and taste right. When swaddled in a pile of blankets and four pairs of socks, I can't be bothered to measure things precisely.

Muy rico: chipotle and whole wheat tortilla-quiles

Kari Chellouf
Feb 4th, 2011

Eating well doesn't have to be rough. Quality ingredients and fresh flavours are a good place to start.

A few days ago, I went for a run after about a year without regular gym activity. A laughably impressive mile was ran before I sounded like a chronic smoker marching up the Grouse Grind, panting and wheezing. I may or may not have coughed up a lung and left it in the grassy field; it was dark and I couldn't see that well through foggy glasses.

In any case, stronger efforts are to be made toward a more balanced life. I decided to forgo making a New Year's resolution this year, only to allow myself to slack for another month and make a Chinese New Year's resolution, of eating healthier and getting more exercise to become quick like a bunny. If anybody finds that lung and traces it back to me, I'm going to have to be able to run away.

Many people dread the idea of eating healthier and exercising. Today's recipe will show you that there's an easier way to reach that goal than taking spoonfuls of bland, nasty gruel while doing one-armed push-ups as an army drill sargeant berates you. Using flavourful ingredients and balancing your meal so that it is filling, satisfying, and contains all food groups, is what will ensure that you feel energized, rather than deprived.

Hearty whole wheat breakfast cobbler

Kari Chellouf
Jan 11th, 2011

Whether or not you're a lumberjack, this wedge demands a plaid shirt, or a napkin.

Last summer I was browsing for cobbler recipes, and I fell in love with one that used a batter underneath the fruit filling, instead of biscuit dough dropped on top. The weather forecast calls for snow tomorrow, which in turn calls for warm, nourishing meals. Instead of pouting and crossing my arms until summer's stone fruit is at its peak (a good six to seven months from now), I decided to be productive and reworked a recipe so that it packs in all four food groups.

Adapted from a recipe by Whole Foods, this cobbler is now whole wheat, and savoury as well as sweet. Apples and pork sausages are one of my favourite breakfast pairings, and in this dish, they become superfriends in what can be likened to a giant, fluffy, oven-baked pancake.


Wintry apple butter

Kari Chellouf
Dec 27th, 2010

Apple butter is a great way to use fruit that is a little older, but if you plan to seal it inside jars, remember only to use fruit that is at the peak of freshness

Christmas and Hanukkah are now in the past, but with New Year's coming up, the holiday crunch is still ongoing. If you're hosting a party, sharing a dessert, or want something cozy and sweet to nip into for the next few weeks (or the next year), here is an easy, delicious, and healthy recipe that is great to have at home by yourself, or keep stashed in the cupboard to bring along as a gift for any occasion.

Fruit butters and spreads are fantastically versatile. Serve them with desserts, breads, cheese and crackers, pork chops, crepes, pancakes or muffins, or even use them as substitutes for apple sauce or oil in cake recipes.

Hints of cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla warm up this treat and will make you want to pull on some flannel PJs and a fuzzy blanket. All of the sweetness in this recipe comes from the fruit, without added sugar, and you can use a variety of apples if you like. I used 4 gala apples, 8 spartans, and a mix of kalamata and calimyrna figs, but you can use any variety on hand.

Va-Va-Voom vegan chocolate peppermint truffles

Kari Chellouf
Dec 18th, 2010

Whenever giving homemade treats as gifts, it's a good idea to include a little hangtag or sticker with the ingredients listed. Your friend may not be allergic to what's inside, but you never know if someone else might try some.

A lot of people get stressed out about cooking for parties during the holiday season because, despite all of the planning, shopping and preparation that goes into putting a meal together, hosts can often be surprised by guests who may have allergies or specific dietary preferences.

In the year before I decided to attend culinary school, I asked many of my clients and friends how their Thanksgivings and Christmases went, and it became clear that this was an even more common issue than I had thought. Vegetarians, vegans, celiacs, and the lactose-intolerant find slim pickings at winter feasts, causing hosts to feel guilt at not knowing how to feed them, or not having the time to throw together dishes made especially for them.

For any cooks who are looking to branch into allergy-aware treats, today's post is a great place to start.  My best tip for any apsiring holiday cook is to make sure that you have a few dishes that are friendly to many types of dietary needs. This way everyone (or almost everyone) can enjoy something. It also helps to post cute signs listing ingredients next to dishes that include possible allergens.

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