As the winter settles in and the holidays become a faded memory, we’re all looking for things to look forward to in the deep dark days of winter, right? It takes a lot to get me out of the house on a weeknight in the winter but I have a feeling that I will be making an exception for some of the George Brown College Chefs’ House Rising Chef Series dinners this year! Basically a showcase for up and coming Canadian culinary talent, as well as a chance for the guest chefs to mentor the George Brown students, the Rising Chef Series highlights the emerging talent of one young Canadian chef who introduces and serves a multi-course menu of their own creation. Late last year, I was lucky enough to be invited to one such dinner with a menu by guest chef Luis Valenzuela.
Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Luis Valenzuela started cooking as a teenager, inspired by his mother’s special Sunday dinners. Luis graduated from George Brown with a Culinary Management Diploma in 2002.
He travelled to Italy in 2006 as part of the post-graduate Italian Program, where he trained at the famed “ALMA” Culinary School, and worked in Verona at a Michelin-starred Villa. Luis has since worked with celebrity chefs Mark McEwan and Adolfo Munoz from Spain. The thing he loves most about being a Chef is travelling and learning about cultures and communities through their food. Some of his experiences include growing and harvesting vanilla in Mexico, working in farmers’ markets in Spain and Mexico City, attending culinary conferences on sustainability in Italy, savouring meals in Paris, and travelling across Canada to experience local delicacies. Chef Valenzuela’s food philosophy and goal is to instil in people an appreciation of food: not just the taste, but the culture needed to develop a sustainable way of life. For the past three years he‟s been creating amazing taste sensations as the Executive Chef at Torito Tapas Bar in Toronto. The meal he introduced and served (paired with Rosewood Estates wines) at The Chefs’ House was surprising and delightful:
Pinxtos of Dates with Toscano Cheese wrapped in bacon
Cream of baby leek soup (vanilla-scented) served with spot prawns.
Montaditos of Duck confit with quince and white beans with oven dried tomatoes
Piquillos with braised Oxtail, sultanas and pine nuts served with a sweet corn purée
Semifreddo of nougat with crema catalana “Luis style”
A very modern take on Mexican, integrating ingredients from his home culture into dishes we all know (the vanilla in the cream of baby leek soup was truly magical and the “piquillos” – peppers stuffed were exquisite), creating a true melting pot of flavours. Elegant, surprising and beautifully presented, Luis’ food represents the best of his culture with a modern touch.
Each month throughout the winter and spring of 2012, The Chefs’ House will feature the emerging talent of young Canadian chefs who, like Luis, will create innovative multi-course menus to showcase their talents.
The Rising Stars dinner series offers you the chance to enjoy an exceptional meal prepared before your eyes by the guest chefs and the students of the George Brown College Chef School in the open kitchen of The Chefs’ House restaurant.
Bookings are now open to these unique “Rising Star Chef” Dinners – each with a flavour of their own:
Chefs Amanda Ray & Julie Marteleira from Canoe, Toronto –
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Chef Patrick Kriss from Splendido, Toronto –
Friday, February 17, 2012
Chef Michelle Usprech from Beer Bistro, Toronto –
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Chef Geoff O’Connor from Nota Bene, Toronto –
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Chef Craig Madore from Le Canard Mort, Toronto –
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Time: Doors Open at 6:30pm (canapés served), 7:00pm the Chef will introduce the meal and the first of four courses is served)
Location: The Chefs’ House, 215 King St. East, Toronto
Cost: $85 per person ALL INCLUSIVE (four-course dinner with wine pairings, taxes & gratuity included). Proceeds to benefit student scholarships to support the next generation of “Rising Star Chefs”.
The Chefs’ House restaurant is also open to the public for lunch and dinner each Monday through Friday throughout the year. Reservations can be made by calling 416-415-2260 or online at thechefshouse.com.
Disclosure: I was a guest of George Brown College at the dinner prepared by Chef Luis Valenzuela. I was not under any obligation to write this post and was not otherwise compensated. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.