viva italia at george brown
There are so many benefits to living in a large, vibrant city such as Toronto, one of which being a thriving culinary scene. From ma and pa establishments, to high end dining, to fresh food markets and specialty shops, the selection and options are seemingly infinite. A particular tier of food service that may often go unnoticed is the training of chefs, and the dining options a culinary institution.
It wasn’t until last year that I first experienced the fresh skills of the students of The Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts at George Brown College, thoroughly enjoying The Marriage of Food and Wine presented by graduating students. A couple of weeks ago a fabulous foodie friend and I returned to the college for an exclusive experience for only 14 diners in The Culinary Studio.
This chef’s table feast was prepared by Sophia Kudla, a Culinary Arts – Italian post-graduate student, as part of Viva Italia!, a week long series of events. (If you missed the Viva Italia! celebrations, you can enjoy prix-fix lunches and dinners prepared by the culinary arts students at the Chef’s House restaurant – delicious meals, at reasonable prices.)
For only $60 inclusive, we were delighted with a four-course meal, plus an amuse bouche and two wine parings. The quality and presentation rivaled any top meal I’ve had in the city, clearly expressing the passion for food that Sophia absorbed on an immersion term working in a restaurant in Liguria, Italy.
‘Having the sea at my doorstep was a blessing; getting to work with fresh fish, live shrimp, sea urchins, and scampi was unforgettable. But the love and the passion people have for the food will remain in my heart’. This enthusiasm for fresh seafood was evident in the sublime menu we enjoyed.
Fresh oysters and tuna served with a sweet pepper salsa and garnished with four diverse salts that uniquely altered each bite.
Handmade fan ravioli served with sea bream and fresh herbs, in a ragu of red shrimp and fillets of tomato and basil. The dish was presented with an almost translucent leaf of basil, achieved by briefly frying in about an inch of canola oil.
Fillet of sea bass with a typical salsa of Liguria and a floret of thin oven baked rosemary potatoes.
The dessert played savory along with a touch a sweet – fogliatina with layers of chinotto yogurt mousse and toasted pine nuts, accompanied by a persimmon coulis and a phenomenal basil frozen parfait, finished with subtle basil simple syrup.