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Michael Bonacini, owner with his partner Peter Oliver of six of Toronto’s top restaurants, including Canoe and Auberge Du Pommier. He’s also a regular guest chef on CityLine with Marilyn Denis, airing weekday mornings on Citytv.
Q: What is your fondest memory from your family kitchen?
A: My father preparing Bolognese sauce. It would take three days for it to cook. The kids would grind the meat, pick the herbs from the garden and stir the pot. The sauce would last a week to 10 days. The aroma would linger for days. It was great!
Q: What is your favourite food to cook?
A: I enjoy cooking seafood, it requires a delicate hand and there are so many varieties. Sundays, my son and I cook pasta. It’s a tradition. I could not live without my pasta!
Q: Do you use cookbooks?
A: I use them to keep up with trends, new ideas, and adjust recipes to suit the restaurants. Cookbooks are a fabulous source of inspiration. Everyone should have a library of cookbooks.
Q: How did the first meal you cook turn out?
A: You seldom get it right the first time. One of the first dishes I prepared was junket (similar to Panna Cotta). I also made Welsh cakes. They both came out successfully. I still make them today.
Q: What kitchen gadget can’t you live without?
A: A knife is an extension to one’s hand. I love the Japanese mandolin. It shreds finely. I have one at home and at the restaurants.
Q: What traditions from your background involving food do you partake in?
A: I grew up in the U.K. One of the traditions I’ve kept is having a kitchen garden. We grow many things, including leeks, spinach and herbs.
Q: Is there a cultural dish you prepare on the holidays?
A: For the turkey dinner at Christmas or the ham at Easter I have to do the carving. It is a special request by my family to bring my carving knife and fork to all family gatherings.