Tony Minichiello, or "Chef Tony", as current students and numerous graduates call him, is the co-owner of Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. Operating one of Vancouver's most respected professional cooking schools is hungry work and Tony recently shared his five favourite places to eat in Vancouver.

Espana Restaurant, 1118 Denman Street

Espana features "my kind of food, and definitely my favourite cuisine", says Chef Tony.  "Chef Neil does wonders with odd cuts, and packs flavour with every dish.  Plus, he hires many of our graduates."

Maenam1938 West 4th Avenue

Chef Tony goes to Maenam, one of Vancouver's most celebrated Thai restaurants for the "authentic and bold flavours from a staff that knows how to cook seriously". Whenever I want my mind to be blown away after a long stretch of cooking at home Chef Angus An and his kitchen take the top of my head off (not with heat, but flavours).

PiDGiN, 350 Carrall Street

I had 12 courses from Chef Makoto and walked to my car feeling just right instead of regretting the butter and oils.  He understands balance better than most fine dining chefs.  He is without a doubt one of the great talents in our city (and country!), and perhaps the humblest too.  Taught him long ago, and was the best learner at the time, a great soul;  it now translates into what he puts on the menu.  The desserts, btw, are likewise balanced, wonderfully creative, and wise.

Burdock & Co., 2702 Main Street

Right across the street from the school.  Each small plate has its own theme, composition, and plenty of skill, mindfulness, and creativity.  Chef Andrea is a very intelligent cook with a natural touch.  I can finally say I’ve had a taste of BC cuisine, which has seen too many come-and go definitions over the years.

Le Do Vietnamese, 2292 East Hastings Street

Photo by Andy Wong, Urbanspoon.

Le Do is on Hastings right next to the Red Wagon (which is also high on my list).  Chef Tony likes the "great owner, great pho, fantastic roll, and great sandwiches". There are a lot of excellent pho places in Vancouver, "but this place does it for me". 

Chef Tony expressed his regret that he was limited to five choices. "I don’t want to offend anyone. I have too much respect for the hard work chefs and cooks put into each day in and night out of cooking".  Well said, Chef Tony, well said.