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Food & Wine Next top chefs: Meet the final 10 Canadians in a star-studded young chef’s competition

Ten of Canada's most promising culinary stars,
all under the age of 30, have been named
semi-finalists in this year's edition of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition. They will face off in Toronto on June 6 with the winning chef representing Canada at the competition's Grande Finale on Oct. 13 in Milan. Which MVP
will you cheer on? Pay Chen compiles the home team's stats

ALISON RAMAGE Chef, Design to Dine, Vancouver

I call myself: "A food entertainer. I am continuing to change the expectations of what food can be at an event with menus designed as an extension of our clients."

My dream dinner party: "It would include my clients, friends and family. Guests would be served selections throughout the evening that incorporate elements designed for each guest. Dishes would be served with the inspiration and story of how they have impacted my life."

The chef I would most like to cook with: "Jennifer Rubell. She is known for her interactive and collaborative events where food and props are used as her mediums. I am inspired by her execution that no idea is too big, too ridiculous or unattainable."

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BOBBY MILHERON Sous chef, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver

Kitchen experience: Attended culinary school on Prince Edward Island and headed west.

The person I would love to cook for: "My dad, who I rarely get to see. I'd make him a dry-aged, bone-in ribeye over charcoal."

My dream dinner party: "A dinner with friends and family in a large field where I would be cooking multiple whole animals and fish over an open fire."

Best advice I've ever received: "Fish loves lemon."


CARMEN INGHAM Head chef, Meat and Bread, Vancouver

International experience: "I have staged and volunteered at restaurants and farms in British Columbia, Washington, California, Italy and Japan."

My signature dish: "It might be a sea urchin panna cotta, garnished with caviar and pickled sea vegetables set inside a Northern Divine caviar tin. Coastal B.C. in one bite."

My dream dinner party: "In the wilderness surrounding a bonfire. All of my culinary role models would be there cooking the dish that best represents them. I would be tending to the fire and shucking oysters; probably eating most of them myself."

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Best advice I've ever received: "Question everything."


HAYDEN JOHNSTON Chef, Richmond Station, Toronto

My signature dish: "I've done a pretty good job of recreating my dad's braised short rib. The ribs are braised in a homemade barbecue sauce and I call them Northern Joe Style Ribs. I moved away from home right after high school to start my career and I cook these ribs whenever I get a little homesick."

The person I would love to cook for: "Mark Zuckerberg. He's a genius with an amazing company and great vision. I like to be surrounded by people who are smarter than me and I try to put myself into situations that allow me to learn."

Best advice I've ever received: "Always work for people who are smarter than you, then be the hardest working person in that room."


JORDAN CARLSON Chef de cuisine, Deseo Bistro, Winnipeg

Kitchen experience: "Seven years working for chef Takashi Murakami, C.M., at the St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg."

My signature dish: "Miso soup. Training under a Japanese chef meant I had to make this almost daily for kitchen staff meals. It took years before my chef and mentor thought it was good enough and even longer until he thought it was great."

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My dream dinner party: "Eating at The French Laundry. The French Laundry cookbook was one of my greatest inspirations when it came to pursing a cooking career. It opened up my expectations of what could be done with food and it's always been a dream of mine to eat there."


JORGE MUÑOZ SANTOS Chef, Bar Oso, Whistler, B.C.

Kitchen experience: "I'm a native of Madrid, Spain, and grew up in my family's restaurant. I've been living and working in Canada for seven years."

My dream dinner party: "It would have me as a guest with my girlfriend and four of my chef idols: Nacho Agüeros, Eneko Atxa, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Ángel León. Ferran Adrià would be cooking a tasting menu with Canadian ingredients and Cirque du Soleil would be performing in the background."

The best advice I've ever received: "You are only as good as the people you work with. Meaning that you want to be with people who are like-minded and share your passion."


MICHAEL LOYER Sous chef, Chez Victoire, Montreal

Current favourite ingredients: "Beets, milk, black garlic and anything I can grow or make from scratch. I love beets because there are so many ways of transforming them – or even just to use it as a natural food colourant. Milk is amazing for the simple reason that you can make cheese out of it. I love black garlic for its unique taste, smell and texture. Making it is also pretty interesting."

In five years I'd like to be: "Part of a restaurant that is almost self-sufficient. The restaurant would be supplied by a giant greenhouse attached to it, fully equipped with reusable energy, and all waste would be transformed into compost and so on. Everything would be made in house like the cheese, the beers, wine – even the hard liquor."


SEAN MACDONALD Co-executive chef, Market Restaurant, Calgary

My signature dish: "Duck and Carrot. The dish is: pan-roasted duck breast brined in fennel juice, carrot puree, roasted date jam, carrots par-cooked in their juice then caramelized and dried, pickled and shaved raw fennel, and star anise jus."

The person I would love to cook for: "René Redzepi. I would love to hear and learn from his criticism. I know René enjoys fresh shellfish as much as I do, so I would make a light scallop crudo, followed by my gnocchi Romano. At Market Restaurant this has become a popular dish that customers insist I never take off the menu. To finish, I would serve him my signature, Duck and Carrot. I'm very proud of this dish and I hope he would enjoy it as much as I do."

Best piece of advice I've received: "Work smarter, not harder. You can always find a more efficient, cleaner way of getting the job done if you focus."


STEVEN SQUIER Sous chef, Delta Bessborough, Saskatoon

Kitchen experience: Started as a dishwasher in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Current favourite ingredients: "Ingredients that are grown and local to Saskatchewan like natural tree syrups. For example, using the buds of a birch tree to enhance other more common ingredients."

My dream dinner party: "A backyard barbecue with some of my favourite chefs and friends. We would have the smoker going and an open-pit barbecue. I would have a mix of chefs from my career and some of the bigger-name chefs I look up to, like Anthony Bourdain, Sean Brock, Éric Ripert, Chris Cosentino and Magnus Nilsson."


Yoann Therer Sous chef, Araxi, Whistler, B.C.

I'd love to cook for: "My idol, Thomas Keller. I'd make the best steak frites he's ever had. When a classic French dish is well-executed, it can make for an amazing meal. It also helps that proper fries are close to my Belgian roots."

My dream dinner party: "No more than 20 guests including myself. Mammy [grandma] is cooking a classic French meal. Serving a bouillabaisse, followed by a salad and a juicy beef roast with potatoes and green beans. And, apple pie for dessert."

Type of chef I'd like to be: "Fun, energetic and innovative. One who is open to my kitchen staff's ideas and suggestions."

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