Stirring the Pot with Chef Andrea Nicholson-Jack

Since the age of fourteen, Andrea has been consumed by the art of food: as a creator, teacher and connoisseur.

She is a Red Seal certified chef who received her culinary training at George Brown College in Toronto.  Her professional experience includes positions in respected Toronto restaurants such as Via Allegro, The Fifth, Sequel, Thirty Five Elm and Trattoria Nervosa, as well as travelling the culinary globe and working with internationally acclaimed chefs. Andrea is currently the only Canadian to hold a diploma from the A.P.N. of Naples, Italy, distinguishing her as a Pizzaiuoli.

Andrea’s passion for food is evident in her masterful creations, which celebrate the purity of local and seasonal produce. Support for Canadian farmers and purveyors is a central tenet of her cuisine. Andrea has received several awards for culinary artistry and has been featured on network television. Her credentials and experience identify her as one of Toronto’s top female chefs.

Andrea is now Executive Chef and Director of Great Cooks Culinary Centre (401 Bay Street, Simpson’s Tower, 8th floor).

What inspired you to become a chef?

How delicious food is and the artistic ability to create.

What is your favourite dish at the restaurant where you cook and why?

Rabbit Terrine with sour cherry chutney. I love rabbit; it is my favourite protein to work with because it is so versatile.

The ingredients you couldn’t live without and why?

Any Vinegar – I love to pickle things.

Cabbage – so that my baba (grandmother) can make me her amazing cabbage rolls!

Onions – the onion to me is one of the essential building blocks to a great dish.

Cheese – all time favourite food.

On your day off – what are you cooking at home? If you’re eating out, where do you go?

On my days off I am smoking meat in my new 700lb cast iron smoker from Louisiana. Best meats I have ever eaten so far!

If I am eating out I go to a restaurant called Moldova (5000 Dufferin Street); it is a Russian restaurant on Dufferin just south of Steeles, and the ladies in the kitchen know what they are doing. No fuss, just simply great European food.

I also love breakfast, so I go to Sizzling Jaks (1599 The Queensway) for Jack’s Famous. Eggs, bacon and hash browns.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

Toronto’s farmers markets; it’s great to see our local purveyors highlighting our terroir, and educating the masses by taking them out of the big box grocery stores and buying local.

What’s coming up?

We are taking part in Toronto Taste and the Toronto Zoo’s 2nd annual Seafood for Thought. We are also partners with Ocean Wise and we have teamed up with Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers; a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to providing comfort to women, children and youth through the making, sharing and donating of soup.