Meet the country’s next top chefs
With a rich and diverse food culture between our coastlines, these emerging chefs are on the forefront of food trends, while also focused on keeping regional traditions alive. We’ve asked these culinary stars, each representing a different province or territory, to share dishes that capture their cooking style and sense of place.
Carmen InghamBritish Columbia
Carmen Ingham, 33, expanded his culinary horizons by working in kitchens and volunteering on farms around the world and has been recognized for his efforts, including nods at the first annual Hawksworth Young Chef Scholarship and the S. Pellegrino Young Chef Competition. After returning to B.C. and leading teams at half a dozen restaurants, he’s now at the helm of the Pointe in Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn. His specialty: fostering a connection with local producers and showcasing Clayoquot Sound’s terroir to visitors from around the world.
Grilled sablefish with huckleberry, corn and chanterelle mushroom dashi
To make the glaze, combine the huckleberries, red verjus and honey in a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain, discarding the solids.
To make the dashi, put 1 litre of water in a medium pot with the onion, mushrooms and kelp. Bring just barely to a simmer and reduce heat to low, holding just below a simmer for one hour.
Add the katsuobushi and steep for 10 minutes before straining. Discard the solids and return the dashi to a pot. Bring to a simmer before dissolving the potato starch in a few tablespoons of water and whisking into the dashi to lightly thicken. Add the soy sauce and verjus, and season to taste with salt.
To serve, brush the sablefish with grapeseed oil and grill over very hot coals until nearly cooked through. Remove from the grill and brush with huckleberry glaze, then return to the grill briefly to caramelize. Sauté the chanterelles and corn in grapeseed oil and butter over very high heat with crushed garlic and thyme. Season lightly with salt, remove the garlic and thyme sprigs and discard them.
Add 2 cups of dashi to the corn and mushrooms and simmer briefly. Check the seasoning and adjust with lemon juice and salt if necessary, then transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Lay the grilled sablefish overtop and garnish liberally with sprigs of wood sorrel or chervil.
Jenni Lessard has owned and run cafés and a catering company, teaches cooking classes and often lends her talents to collaborative dinners and community events, such as the Han Wi Moon dinner series – transformational interactive meals that incorporate bison and ingredients foraged from the valley below Saskatoon’s Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a non-profit First Nations cultural and historical centre and National Historic Site of Canada. The 44 year old recently became the first female executive chef at Wanuskewin, where she draws inspiration from Indigenous food systems as well as her own Métis heritage to create a unique menu.
Three Sisters Spice Cake with Saskatoon Berry Buttercream
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, eggs, squash, beans and vanilla. Mix both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl, add to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.
Grease two 8-inch round cake pans and divide the batter between them. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter, pie filling or jam, lemon juice and zest and whipping cream with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the icing sugar and whip until light and fluffy-ish, adding more icing sugar if needed to achieve a spreadable frosting. Ensure the cake has completely cooled before frosting and layering.
Earlier this year, Galasa Aden joined chefs from across the country to prepare a collaborative Flavours of Canada dinner at the James Beard House in New York, putting prairie ingredients on a pedestal for a crowd of almost 100 who are involved in or keenly follow the food industry. The 26 year old began his career at Calgary’s iconic River Café, learning alongside a team known as creative leaders and advocates for local, sustainable ingredients, before stepping into the role of chef de cuisine at the historic Deane House last fall. (Note: As of this writing, the Deane House is closed for the remainder of the year for restoration following an internal flood.) Drawing inspiration from local producers and the surrounding gardens, he’s focused on telling the story of the house and the city’s original gathering place, in a contemporary culinary context.
Lentil fried oyster mushrooms
Generously brush the mushrooms with oil and lightly grill until just tender.
Combine the lentil flour and seasonings, dredge the mushrooms in the dry mixture and squeeze onto the mushrooms to help it adhere.
Heat a few inches of canola oil to 350 F and fry the mushrooms until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.
Renée Girard aims to focus her culinary talent on building stronger, more sustainable communities, in part by participating in events such as pop-up farm dinners that support local initiatives. Now sous chef at Harth Mozza & Wine Bar in Winnipeg, the 32 year old is closely connected to her brother and sister-in-law’s small-scale certified organic farm, Hearts & Roots, which is on family land outside of Elie, Man. Her pickerel is a nod to Manitoba’s large fishing community and a chance to highlight some ingredients most don’t realize grow on the prairies, such as tomatillos, ground cherries (cape gooseberries) and padron peppers.
Pickerel with tomatillo and padron sauce
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Husk, rinse and cut tomatillos in quarters. Peel the head of garlic and smash each clove. Seed the padron peppers and cut in half. Toss them all, along with the onions, in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 33 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly charred and juicy. Keep an eye on them, as every oven can be different. Set aside to cool.
Blend the roasted veggies, along with any juices they’ve released into the pan, until smooth. Toast the thinly sliced garlic in a small skillet in canola oil until golden. (Be careful not to overcook, as the garlic can get bitter.) Transfer to paper towels with a slotted spoon. Set aside. Dry on paper towel.
Season pickerel fillets with salt and pepper on both sides, and set aside to come to room temperature. Toss the ground cherries and cherry tomatoes in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until blistered. Set aside at room temperature.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drop butter in and swirl around the pan until it gets nice and bubbly. Cook the pickerel fillets on one side for 3-4 minutes. Flip and add about a cup (or more, if desired) of tomatillo sauce to the pan. Continue cooking for another 3-4 minutes (for a total of 6-8 minutes), until the fish is opaque and the edge flakes with a fork.
Place the fish on a platter or shallow bowl and spoon the sauce over top. Top with roasted cherry tomatoes, ground cherries, crispy garlic and soft herbs.
At just 25, Benjamin Lillico has already spent time in the kitchen at Langdon Hall, Ontario’s only CAA five-diamond awarded restaurant. He’s been captain of the Junior Culinary Team Canada for the 2016 Culinary Olympics in Germany – bringing home multiple gold and silver medals – has won culinary competitions with the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and Skills Ontario and was one of the top-place finishes at the Expogast Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. He’s now teaches culinary arts part-time at Conestoga College in Waterloo, Ont., and is the newly appointed executive chef at Holt Renfrew at their new flagship location in Toronto on Bloor Street, where a focus on locality and sustainability will drive the menu.
Roasted duck breast with parsnips, hazelnuts and Niagara plums
In a vacuum seal or Ziploc bag, combine the plums, sugar, vinegar and thyme and seal, removing excess air. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours. Remove the plums from the bag and pour off the liquid. Cut each half into thirds.Duck
Put 2 litres water into a medium pot over medium-high heat and add the sugar, salt, soy sauce, onion, orange, garlic and bay leaf. Heat to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and add the rosemary and thyme. Cool the brine, transfer to a food safe container and chill.
Remove excess fat from the duck breast, leaving 5-7 mm to get great crispy skin. Finely score the skin to help ensure you get an even sear. Immerse the duck breast in the brine for 4 hours. Remove and dry with paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Set a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season the breast well with salt and pepper. Place the breast skin side down in the pan to start rendering the fat, creating crispy golden skin. Gently flip the breast skin side up and finish in the oven to an internal temperature of 130 F. Transfer to a rack or cutting board to rest. Once the duck rests the internal temperature will rise slightly to 135 F – medium-rare. Thinly slice the breast and reserve for plating.Parsnips
Place the parsnips in a saucepan and cover with the cream and salt. Cook on medium-low heat until extremely soft. Remove from the heat, strain off (reserve) the excess liquid, and purée in a blender until smooth, using the cream to help thin the puree if needed. Pass the purée through a fine chinois or strainer.Dressing
In a bowl, combine the Dijon, sherry and shallot. Crush the toasted hazelnuts so they are pea-sized and add to the mix. Slowly add the oil and season with honey, salt, pepper and chives.
To serve, spoon two quenelles of parsnip purée onto your plate, offsetting them. Place the thinly sliced duck breast between the two. Garnish the plate with the fermented plum, sauce the duck with hazelnut dressing and garnish with watercress.
Chris PyneNova Scotia
Chris Pyne began his career at 14, working on the line at his family’s restaurant and earned his Red Seal certification, a prestigious recognition of his skills in the kitchen, by 21. After spending time in Britain cooking alongside Michelin-starred chefs, he became senior chef de partie at Restaurant James Sommerin in Wales, during which time the team earned their first Michelin star. Now 26, he has returned home to Nova Scotia and to the renowned Founders House in Annapolis Royal, where he works with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and fisherman to create what he calls elevated rural dining, rooted in the sea and soil.
Sweet corn velouté with chorizo jam, egg and shishitos
To make the chorizo jam, in a medium pot, cook the chorizo in the olive oil until just cooked through and strain to separate the cooked meat from the fat. Reserve the sausage for later and return the fat to the pot.
Cook the onion and garlic in the reserved fat with a pinch of salt over medium-low heat until soft and translucent. Add the thyme, paprika and allspice and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, then return the chorizo to the pot, add the molasses, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, or it thickens to a consistency you like.
To make the velouté, cut the kernels off the cobs, set aside and cover the bare cobs with water; bring to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes, seasoning with salt. Remove the cobs and set the stock aside.
Set a wide, shallow pot over medium heat, add the butter and olive oil, and when the butter foams sauté the onion, fennel and celery, seasoning with salt, until soft. Add the turmeric and potato. Continue to cook until the potato starch starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, but is not burning.
Deglaze with white wine and cook until it evaporates. Add the corn stock, bay leaf, thyme bundle, more salt and bring to boil, then turn to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender.
Add the corn, milk and cream, bring back to a simmer and when the corn is tender, remove the bay leaf and thyme and purée in 10 -15 second increments (so your soup does not go gummy from the potato), then pass through a fine mesh sieve. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet and cook the peppers until blistered. Transfer to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil and sprinkle with salt.
To serve, place a spoonful of the chorizo jam in the bottom of a bowl, making a nest for each egg, and place an egg on top. Season with salt, pepper and chives. Pour the soup slowly around the egg, until it reaches halfway up the egg. Garnish with a few shishitos along the side of the bowl.
Chef, speaker and culinary activist Marie-Cecile Kakgoosh Nottaway-Wawatie lives in a log cabin on the Kitigan Zibi Algonquin First Nation in western Quebec, maintaining a strong connection to the land. The 40 year old, who goes by Cezin, uses hunting, foraging and cooking skills she was taught by her grandmothers to prepare traditional dishes both indoors and out for her catering company, Wawatay, which translates to northern lights in Anishnabe. Earlier this year, she was profiled in an episode of Red Chef Revival, a six-part web series that aims to use food as an access point to reconciliation – one of the many ways Nottaway keeps her ancestors’ culinary traditions alive and educates Canadians about her culinary identity, which is so strongly rooted in food and the land it comes from.
Moose with tea and onions
Set a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and once it has melted, add the moose meat, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Once the meat has browned add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, then add enough tea to cover the meat, bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan, until the tea has reduced more than half and the dish is saucy. Depending on your cut of meat, you may have to continue to cook it, adding more tea, until it’s tender.
Dave Mottershall, 37, is known for opening the popular Terre Rouge bistro in Charlottetown in 2012, as well as Loka, an innovative pop-up-turned restaurant on Queen Street in Toronto that had a zero-waste policy and was the first eatery in Canada to open via a successful crowdfunding campaign. Always focused on regional Canadian cuisine, Mottershall recently launched SalumeRume in the Bogside Brewery in Montague, where he practices whole animal butchery, curing unique salamis, coppas, prosciutto, lonza, 'nduja and pancetta. Working with local farmers, he brings a unique offering to a traditionally seafood and potato-focused food scene, on an island where agriculture and tourism are the biggest economic drivers.
Maple sagamite with vanilla goat yogurt and haskap jam
To make the haskap jam, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until jammy and reduced by half.
To make the vanilla goat yogurt, in a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until smooth.
To make the sagamite pudding, preheat the oven to 400 F. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the cream and maple syrup to a boil. Set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix at medium speed for 1 minute, until creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another minute, until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix for 1 minute, until a soft dough forms. Divide between 6 buttered ramekins or a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. Divide the maple cream between the ramekins or spread over the batter in the baking dish. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes for ramekins, 27-34 minutes for a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Serve topped with goat yogurt and haskap jam, or your favourite preserve. Garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts and mint, if you like.
Benjamin Cormier and Jon MorrisonNew Brunswick
Benjamin Cormier, 34, and his culinary partner Jon Morrison, 30, met while cooking together in a Moncton kitchen. After spending time in fine-dining restaurants, strengthening and building up the profile of their food community through various creative collaborations, they’re now the talented duo behind the highly celebrated Origines Cuisine Maritime in Caraquet. Overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the restaurant has been recognized as one of the country’s best; their constantly changing Acadian-inspired menu celebrates local culinary traditions and is driven by the seasons and tides.
Butter poached lobster with corn, tomatoes and chanterelles
Season water with enough salt that it tastes like the ocean. Bring to a boil and cook the lobster for 3 minutes, then shock it in ice water to stop it from cooking.
Remove the meat from the shell, rinse and clean the lobster with white wine, reserving the wine.
To make the poaching butter, sauté the shallot and garlic in a tablespoon or two of butter until soft. Reduce the white wine (about 1 cup, including the reserved wine used to clean the lobster) by half. Add the cream and reduce by half again. Whisk in the 1 lb butter until emulsified. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
Shave the corn from the cob and sauté it in a couple tablespoons of butter with the chanterelles and sliced shallot. Drizzle the cherry tomatoes with oil, sprinkle with salt and broil for a few minutes, until blistered.
Rewarm the lobster meat in poaching butter over low heat until cooked, about 5 minutes. To serve, place the lobster and blistered tomatoes on top of the corn and chanterelle ragoût. Garnish with chives and fresh tarragon, and sauce with the poaching butter.
Sousanh Chanthalangsy-BornillaNorthwest Territories
Sousanh Chanthalangsy-Bornilla launched her business almost a decade ago in a small canteen in the Yellowknife Curling Club, preparing the Thai dishes her mother taught her how to make. She quickly moved into a food truck, kickstarting the mobile food scene in Yellowknife, went on to appear on Chopped Canada and expanded to include a thriving catering business. During the winter months, you can find the 37 year old cooking alongside her mom, Thip Chanthalangsy, at the Curling Club, and in the summer the bright red truck is parked downtown, serving up the dishes of her childhood.
Thai Banana Fritters
In a large bowl, combine the rice and tapioca flours, coconut, sesame seeds, sugar, salt and water. Whisk until you have a fairly thick batter and no lumps remain.
Peel the bananas and slice each lengthwise into 3-4 slices.
Heat the oil in a deep pan over high heat. Once the oil is hot (it should be about 350 F on a deep fry thermometer), dip the banana slices in the batter and fry till golden brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to paper towels to drain.
To make the sauce, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and coconut milk; drizzle over the warm fritters and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if you like.
Lori McCarthyNewfoundland and Labrador
This summer, outdoors enthusiast, educator and advocate Lori McCarthy had visitors steaming crab in seaweed, gathering fresh squid on the beach and smoking capelin. Dedicated to the cultural foods of Newfoundland and Labrador through her outdoor culinary adventure company, Cod Sounds, and the Livyers Cultural Alliance – a supper club of sorts that aims to keep east coast culinary traditions alive – McCarthy, 42, strengthens and expands her roots with workshops and excursions that introduce guests to the terroir, teaching them to hunt, forage and fish directly from the land, then prep, cook or preserve their catch.
Ptarmigan with wild greens and cranberries
Season the ptarmigan or duck with salt and pepper on both sides. Set a pan over medium-high heat, add 4 tablespoons of the butter along with the olive oil and sear the meat on both sides, turning only once; 1 minute per side for ptarmigan, and 2-3 minutes per side if you’re using duck. Transfer to a plate to rest while you prepare the cranberries.
Add the cranberries to the same pan the ptarmigan cooked in and add a pinch of pepper. If your pan is dry, add 3-4 tablespoons of water. Add the wine and sweet gale, bring to a boil, then whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and let it reduce by half.
To serve, thinly slice the meat and arrange it flat on your plate. Drizzle with a couple tablespoons of cranberry sauce and a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Garnish with thinly sliced berries, leaves of wild sheep or wood sorrel (or sliced radicchio or fresh lemon balm) and fresh edible flowers.
Sheila Flaherty has been known as Nunavut’s celebrity chef since her appearance on MasterChef Canada in 2017, the same year she cooked for the visiting British Royal Family and other dignitaries. Earlier this year she became the first Inuk chef to develop the menu for A Taste of the Arctic in Ottawa – a feast that included caribou, Canada goose, muskox, reindeer, seal and narwhal. Now 51, Flaherty is about to take on a new role as executive chef of First Air, Canada’s airline serving all points north.
Arctic char chowder
Debone the fish and remove the skin and pin bones. Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks; set aside.
Put the head, skin and bones in a large stock pot and fill with about 6 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for an hour and strain the liquid for fish stock. (Save the head, it’s delicious to eat with a side of sweet gherkin pickles.)
In a Dutch oven on medium-high heat, combine the butter, onion, celery and carrots.
Add salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until tender. Add 5 cups of the fish stock along with the potatoes, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
As it simmers, whisk together the milk and flour and stir it into the soup. Add the char, return to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.
Taste and season if necessary, and remove bay the leaf. Serve with your favourite palaugaaq (bannock).
It’s coming up on a year since Brian Ng, 29, opened the Wayfarer Oyster House in Whitehorse, the only Northern eatery to make Air Canada’s long list of best new restaurants for 2019. Having grown up in his parents’ restaurant, Ng gravitates toward classic Chinese along with Thai, Italian and French flavours on a seafood-focused menu that focuses on oysters from the east and west coasts, and shifts with the seasons. Ng jokes that he was an Italian grandmother in another lifetime; he always has fresh pasta on the menu, such as creamy tagliatelle with locally foraged morels, which typically spawn the year after one of the region’s frequent summer forest fires. His worldly curiosity in the kitchen is diversifying the city’s food scene.
Tagliatelle with morels and cream
In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Mix the egg yolk and olive oil in a separate bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the egg yolk mixture. Mix gently with a fork until the dough starts coming together. Knead, spraying with water, until a ball forms and continue to spritz the ball to allow any remaining flour to stick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for half an hour.
Run the dough through a pasta machine on setting 4 or 5. Cut into thin strips and dust with semolina. Rehydrate the dried mushrooms by putting them in a bowl and covering them with warm water for half an hour. Rinse thoroughly to get rid of any grit. Save some of the mushroom water, strain it through cheesecloth and set aside.
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add the cremini mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Cook until the vegetables are softened and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved morel water and a healthy splash of white wine and let the alcohol cook off a bit. Add the cream, morels and thyme. Heat to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove the thyme stems and season with fish sauce, lemon juice, salt and white pepper.
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, or until almost al dente. Reserve some pasta water.
Add the cooked pasta to the cream sauce and mix until you achieve your desired consistency, adding a splash of pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Serve in a nest, finished with cream sauce, garnished with chives, Parmesan and breadcrumbs.