Viva Italia! Celebrating Italy at George Brown Chef’s School

Of the many courses offered at the Chef’s School at George Brown College, the Italian cuisine programme is one of the most popular. Heck, part of it is taught in Italy – what’s not to love about that?

For the second year, the school has opened its doors to the public in a week-long festival of Italian food and culture. Events included tastings, dinners, demonstrations and a gala tasting event that was held this past Thursday evening that featured chefs from both Italy and Ontario serving up food and wine that high-lighted the best flavours of Italy.

These events are wonderful learning experiences for the students as they work with some of the top Italian chefs in preparation for the dinners and tastings. We were lucky enough to be able to attend the gala and sample some of the food and drink.

Participants included:

Chef Marco Soldati, ALMA, La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana & exclusive partner to George Brown Chef School
Chef Gabriele Paganelli, Romagna Mia
Chef Marco Zandona, Via Allegro
Chef Fabio Bondi, The Local Kitchen & Wine Bar
Chef Mario Pingue, Niagara Food Specialities Inc.
Chef Luis Valenzuela, El Torito
Chef Rob Gentile, Buca
Chefs Eleonora Caldato & Jeremy McRoberts, Mangi & Bevi
Chefs Amede Lamarche & Daniel Gonzales, Pastry Arts, George Brown College
Italian Program PostGraduate Students, Chef School, George Brown College.
Brunello Fine Imported Specialty Foods & Wines
Saputo Cheese & Dairy
Marca Trevigiana Wine Imports
Merchants of Green Coffee
Peroni Nastro Azzurro Beer

And while the Viva Italia festival is over for this year, remember that there’s always events and dinners taking place at The Chef’s House that the public are welcome to take part in. Or you can just drop by for lunch or dinner – it’s one of the best deals in the city.

Chef Fabio Bondi of Local Kitchen and Wine Bar was slightly chagrined that some people were put off by his sardines on red fife toasts. But these were fantastic. Those folks don’t know what they missed.

Whitefish speared with bay leaf branches.

The same fish in its formal presentation with pea puree.

Slicing up pizza from Mangia & Bevi.

Pork sandwiches from Buca.

Prosciutto on a stick from Niagara Food Specialties.

Chef’s School students learn all the culinary arts, including the intricate carving skills for making beautiful fruit sculptures.

Plenty of cheese at the Saputo table.

A selection of bread made by George Brown pastry students.

Serving up gelato to one of the school’s chef instructors.


And let’s end with some sweets, also made by the school’s pastry department. Yes, that’s freshly made nougat. I resisted the urge to steal every piece, but it was a tough call – that was some awesome nougat.