Posted by: njbrown | March 14, 2011

Canadian Celebrity Chefs – the Quebec Three (Contains Iron Chef Spoiler)


It has struck me that the chefs who host Canadian cooking shows are – by and large – more personality-packed than the American chefs on the Food Network.  This is surprising, given our experience living in Canada where most of the people we know are low-key, kinder and gentler.  Quebec has produced three chefs who seem truly unique.  (I am referring to Ricardo as a chef, although technically that is incorrect, as to my knowledge he’s never headed a kitchen.)  Ricardo is a delightful Québécois who cooks from his home for his lovely wife, delightful children, and uniformly attractive friends.  He takes us on trips to Quebec farms and food producers all the time maintaining his sunny smile and joie de vivre.  Food Network describes Ricardo this way:  Riccardo Larrivée — or simply Ricardo to his fans — is Canada’s most successful bilingual celebrity chef. Over the past twelve years, Ricardo has become a household name in Quebec. Ricardo’s easy-going personality, humour, and charisma has led him to be called ‘Quebec’s answer to Jamie Oliver.’

At the other end of the spectrum is Martin Picard – rumpled, wild-haired and totally committed to foie gras at his restaurant Au Pied de Cochon (At the Pig’s Foot).  I don’t often watch Martin because foie gras has never been on my list of foods I want to eat, and on one show he was stuffing something into an unplucked fowl of some sort to cook in the great outdoors, and it was more than I could handle.  Martin’s show is The Wild Chef, and he certainly seems to be wild.  I hope his life expectancy isn’t shortened by all that foie gras.  I haven’t found Anthony Bourdain to be given to superlatives, but these are his words on Martin:

“Martin Picard is a fantastically talented chef, a friend, an inspiration,” writes Anthony Bourdain in his introduction. “Au Pied de Cochon is simply one of my favourite restaurants on the planet—and the Rabelesian Martin Picard one of my favourite chefs.”

Somewhere between Riccardo and Martin is Chuck Hughes.  From the neck up, he looks like the perfect all-American (all-Canadian) boy.  Lovely smile, nice short haircut with a part, etc.  However, his exposed arms are covered with tattoos – most of which, it appears are food-related.  Chuck’s restaurant is an “edgy” place in Montreal where rock music prevails.  Chuck will compete against Bobby Flay this Sunday in Iron Chef America.  So far, Rob Feenie of Vancouver has bested an Iron Chef, and David Adjey tied his old CIA roommate Michael Symon.  Lynn Crawford and Michael Smith have lost.  In roaming the Web to try to find out how Chuck fares, it seems that he beats Bobby.  It should be an interesting show as Chuck’s food on his show seems pretty straightforward.  He has said his mom makes his desserts, so it will be fun if he brings her.

Nancy

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