What attracts guests to attend The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo in Toronto may differ for everyone. As I love to eat, cook and follow television shows of select chefs, the opportunity to meet celebrity chefs that I admire, really draws me to the expo.
In 2011, I decided to attend the GFWE (my very first visit) because I wanted to see Chef Chuck Hughes in action at the Food Network stage. This was shortly after he won the lobster battle on Iron Chef America , so he was able to share his experience with the crowd. If you haven’t seen the episode, you need to. Aside from watching how awesome Chuck did, seeing Bobby Flay’s angry reaction to his sous-chef fumbling with the blender is too funny. I also had a chance to meet Chuck after the cooking demonstration as he was doing a charity event for the Prince Margaret hospital foundation. For a small donation, I got an apron with the coolest drawing of a lobster on it (if you are not aware, Chuck’s favourite food in the world is lobster, and even has a tattoo of it) and a signed picture of him. The signed picture will be put inside the Garde Manger cookbook that I own.
This year, I decided to attend the expo once again because I wanted to meet Chef Roger Mooking. I have been following Chef Mooking since his ‘Bass is Base’ days. If you grew up in Toronto in the 90s, you must know the song “Funkmobile.” Yes, MC Mystic is Roger Mooking! I enjoyed watching Chef Mooking’s cooking show “Everyday Exotic” where he used hot peppers and spices liberally and mastered the use of an “obedient ingredient” in each episode. My husband is a fan since his family is also from Trinidad, where Chef Mooking was born.
At his cooking demonstration, like a nerd, I sat front and centre to watch him attentively as Chef Mooking made a delicious meal of ‘grilled filet mignon with black bean sauce with shrimp’. Check out the recipe and make this at home!
After his demonstration, he came out to meet and greet his fans. He was as friendly and energetic as I imagined him to be. Having watching him as a guest chef on the Marilyn Denis show the same week, I found out that he has a 5 week old baby at home and four daughters. Very exciting! He is a definitely a super dad balancing career and family. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him, including his experience on Iron Chef ‘battle hot dogs’, and working with chef Aarón Sanchez on the show “Heat Seekers”, but I was holding up the line for other fans to take a picture with him. I did have a chance to tell him a little bit about myself, my sisters who were with me, and that I was starting a food blog.
As for other exciting news in his pipeline, he will be one of the reoccurring judges on Chopped Canada. I hope his comments as a judge won’t be as critical and harsh as some of the feedback from the judges on Chopped (US version). I don’t see a mean bone in him. Great things are happening in Chef Mooking’s life and I am looking forward to seeing more of him.
I hope that the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo will continue to bring in more Canadian and international celebrity chefs. Both these Canadian chefs are talented, and are a pleasure to watch on TV and even more awesome in person. I am a happy gal having met these idols.
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