Official Liaison College Blog

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Chef of the Day in Durham

Francis is a mature student and he has a passion for cooking.

Recently it was his turn to execute a "Chef of the Day" luncheon as part of his Level II practicum.  Armed with great ideas and a theme for his luncheon, he set out to operate his mock restaurant in earnest.

It's one thing to prepare foods using recipes and all the time you need, and it's entirely something else to create 3 courses under the pressure of a live customer with time constraints.  That's a whole new kettle of fish!

And that's exactly what Frances chose for his luncheon menu - traditional fish and chips.

Using a specified budget, he created the menu to the penny.  Ten of his family members reserved their table and the pressure was on!
The recipes were tested and re-tested to perfect the dishes.  When the luncheon date finally arrived, they were as ready as they could be.  Chatting with some of the guests that day, there was a definite race between the tartar sauce and the dessert as to which was the home run.  In all, one diner exclaimed that it was "the best fish and chips I've ever had period".  Now that's what the Chef wants to hear!
Dessert - "to die for" Bread Pudding

Soupe du Jour
Try the Dessert for yourself - apparently it's the Bailey's Ice Cream and the homemade bread that kick this one up a notch:

Portions:              24 Metric

500gr melted butter
  • 674gr water
  • 40gr Yeast instant
  • 1100gr flour
  • 26gr salt
  • 40gr sugar
  • 54gr non-fat milk
  • 40gr shortening
  • Yields 2000gr
  • 1000gr eggs
  • 2.5L milk
  • 500gr sugar
  • 4ml salt
  • 30ml vanilla
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp nutmeg
  • ½ cup diced apricots
  • ½ cup diced raisins


1.       Put the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla in a bowl mix until combined then slowly add the milk in while you do that keep stirring until all mixed in and looks like custard then add the cinnamon, nutmeg

2.       Then make sure the melted butter is poured over the diced bread then put the diced raisins, apricots in with the bread that’s in the pan. Then pour the custard over the bread put in the refrigerator for 1 hour until bread has soaked up the custard

3.       Then put the pan with the bread in a larger pan fill with 1inch of water and bake at 325f for hour or until set.

4.       While that is being made you make a apricot, raisin, cranberry sauce for the bottom for the bread and butter pudding sits on for the glace you melt the jar of apricot marmalade in the microwave then put it on the stove for about 5 to 10 minutes until reduced to a glace.  


Makes:                 2.88L

  • 908gr milk
  • 908gr heavy cream
  • 2 vanilla bean
  • 396gr sugar
  • 56gr corn syrup
  • 2gr salt
  • 30 egg yolks
  • 6oz baileys



1.       Combine the milk, cream, vanilla, bean pod and seeds, half of the sugar, syrup, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, 7 to 10 minutes

2.       Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and steep for 5 minutes.

3.       Meanwhile, blend the egg yolks with the remaining sugar.

4.       Remove the vanilla bean pod and return the milk mixture to a simmer.

5.       Temper one third of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.

6.       Add the tempered egg mixture to the remaining hot liquid in the saucepan, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.

7.       Strain the ice cream base into a metal container in an ice bath. Stir occasionally, until it reaches below  40F/4C, about 1 hour

8.       Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours.

9.       Process the base in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.

10.   Pack the ice cream in storage containers or molds as desired, and freeze for several hours. Or overnight before serving.  


Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Life of Pie - Thornbury Bakery Cafe -

The Story of Trish Smith - Liaison College Graduate

Meet Trish Smith, born in Orillia and raised in Whitby, ON. On graduating she entered the IT field and while on the job she met her future husband, Dave.  They were both successful and thrived in the IT realm travelling extensively. They ultimately moved to New Jersey, USA to accept promotions.  They had a family and the last of their three children was born in the USA.

Health issues brought them back to Canada where family support was nearby.  Trish began to visualize her next career, why not trade her lucrative but hectic IT career for time with family and doing something she loved?

Like the story of The Life of Pie – she saw possibilities in everything she envisioned and food seemed to be part of that vision.  Was it pie in the sky? Could this be her new career? She loved cooking – why not give it a try!

Trish enrolled at Liaison College in Downtown Toronto and began her culinary journey; she excelled and quickly developed her love and passion for food – especially baking.   She graduated with Honours at the top of her class and was awarded the merits and a reference book signed by her Chef Instructor, Chef Mick Elliott CCC.  It was a proud moment.

With three children growing quickly and the oldest already in high school, Trish and Dave were ready to turn the page in their next chapter of life. They decided to explore the possibility of a simpler and quieter life outside of the GTA.  It was on a weekend ski trip to Blue Mountain with her sisters, that the notion of making Georgian Bay their new home started to develop.  In August 2008 they moved to Thornbury and within a month they purchased a business. Trish and Dave became the proud owners of the Thornbury Bakery Café on Bruce Street.

The Thornbury Bakery is a local landmark and traditional in its offerings; Trish decided not to make any drastic changes right away.  She inherited many delicious and comforting recipes with the business  so, the legacy continued.  This welcoming and bustling business is a familiar place for locals and visitors alike. They come to enjoy the freshly baked goods, piping hot coffee and other tantalizing beverages along with a full breakfast and lunch menu.  They are known for their amazing homemade soups.  It’s almost impossible to resist the tempting vision reflected in the glass display case at the front counter. It’s here that Chelsea buns, decadent squares, freshly baked breads, marvellous muffins, and a host of delectable pies and cookies await you. Eyes feast on the array of bountiful and aromatic delicacies conjuring up memories of a cozy home kitchen. It’s impossible not to weaken; everyone takes home some of those old fashioned memories.

Trish values her customers and friends in the region; it’s been 5 years since she and Dave bought the business. She continues to provide a welcoming gathering place and source for delicious meals and baked goods. 

With the addition of gluten free products and a growing wholesale market, Trish is feeding her passion.  As she fondly refers to her gifted reference book from her Chef Instructor she is reminded to “keep it sexy”.  It was obvious to Trish, that her dream wasn’t just “pie in the sky” Thornbury Bakery is a dream come true!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Autumn Pop Up Dinner with Entertained Catering and Chef Alex

Lots of things can "pop up" ... but dinner?

That's a given if you speak to Chef Alex, a Liaison College grad who heads up Entertained Catering and specializes in pop up dinners (among other things).

Chef Alex caught the Liaison College "food bug" from Chef Tracy, Director and Chef instructor at Liaison College South Coast; they met at a trade show and Chef Tracy's exuberance and passion for food, especially local and fresh foods, rubbed off on Alex in a big way.   Alex found his calling and very quickly enrolled in the culinary program with a vision of exactly what he would do with his skills and knowledge.

Recently, Chef Alex sent out an invitation to his "foodie fans" enticing them to experience a pop up dinner.  Here's the invite:

|Entertained Catering is proud to present our first regional pop-up dinner at Pingle's Farm!

Our dinner will be set in the amazing atmosphere of an apple orchard in full bloom! Our meal will consist of 4 courses all created using local produce and will include a glass of local wine! Keeping in mind that our event is outside, please dress warm. If you are interested in attending please RSVP by September 24th with the number of guests. All questions and RSVPs can be sent to

|Our Menu:


Roasted pumpkin soup served with walnut pesto, fresh sage, and sea salt crisps.


Apple roasted pork served with balsamic roasted parsnips and carrots, and red wine and apple braised red cabbage.

Palate Cleanser:

Apple cider granita.


Apple caramel cheese cake crumble.


Our food sleuth, Michele, ventured out for the dinner and was not disappointed.  The ambience and food were exceptional and of course the surroundings were inspired for the season.

Nestled among the orchard in full splendour, the dinner "pops up" with a colourful presentation and a rustic vibe, the dinner is a successful event with many happy foodies.

Well done Alex - we will be watching to see where you might "pop up" next!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Battle of the Bulge

The raging war for size supremacy is well underway as Chef Steve, not to be outdone by Chef Vince, has entered his specimen in the Zucchini Showdown of 2013.  It would appear that bragging rights for super sized summer squash is not easily won or even definitive.

Since Chef Vince laid his over-sized green giant on the prep table, Chef Steve wondered aloud if his garden variety gourd was worthy.  Game on.

 The students in Brampton, however, had a twisted take on the Zucchini Wars.

These poor, helpless veggies were tormented before they met their fate.

They came to an unfortunate end in one sense.  Yet, all was not lost:

We are delighted to be the official taste testing team!
(I wish!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Courgette is by any other name just a Zucchini

The zucchini or courgette is a summer squash which can reach nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo.  Thank you Wikipedia

I was recently introduced to a very large specimen - of Zucchini that is - home grown by Chef Vince.  Apparently this was not his biggest, but he brought it to Liaison College Barrie to share with his class.  I extended a bit of a challenge (make something delicious from this humble beast) and Chef Vince accepted without hesitation.  Mainly since the "gourd head" didn't make a great student?

So the students bid their friend adieu and considered the tasty results.
I offered a tried and true recipe from my collection for the class to try.  It's a moist and flavourful zucchini bread that can also do double duty as a muffin.  First thing in the mise en place process is to gather the ingredients.  How much zucchini did they actually have to work with?
The colossal specimen was weighed and measured.  There was a lot to work with.  Strategies began to formulate.
And then the manual labour began.
But the results were amazing!
Tempted?  Try the recipe!
Zucchini Bread Recipe
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups grated fresh zucchini
2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
1              Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter two 5 by 9 inch loaf pans.
2              In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter.
3              Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and stir it in. Add the flour, a third at a time, stirring after each incorporation. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg over the batter and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.
4              Divide the batter equally between the loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.
Yield: Makes 2 loaves.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's EPIC!!

That's a word in the common jargon of today's youth:  EPIC - it generally means outstanding or great.  But in the case of EPIC Burger it might mean a colossal case of food borne illness. 

Every year the "EX" attracts foodies to see what gastronomically outrageous food items will be on hand for sampling.  And this year's big ticket item is the Cronut Burger featured by EPIC Burger.

Ben Mulroney was even on site and helped to make one of these king size artery cloggers; after taking just a bite he declared it to be tasty and the leftover "buns" that he took back to the staff at his studio thought it was very good, too.

So what is a Cronut Burger??  having never had the pleasure, I have to base my analysis on other people's views:
  • a combination of croissant/donut cut in half makes up the "bun"
  • the burger is a large size cheeseburger with bacon
  • once assembled, burger gets dusted with sugar

So while some have thoroughly enjoyed their Cronut Burger experience, others, as reported last night took ill and some were even hospitalized.  Today, according to reports, the EPIC Burger stand at The Ex was closed down by health officials looking for a culprit.  The internet is all abuzz with burger badmouthing today!

Having taught the Food Safety workshops a few times, narrowing down the cause of illness may be difficult unless the micro-organisms are there to be found.  It could be something as otherwise inconspicuous as a dirty wiping cloth or utensil that was left in the warm air and allowed germs to multiply. 

Anyone who has ever had food poisoning knows that it's no fun.  Luckily it usually lasts only a day or two. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Next Celebrity Chef?

At the Liaison College Barrie graduation ceremony yesterday, the guest speaker was an alumnus of Liaison College.  I was looking forward to meeting her and getting some insights into her progress from student to Executive Chef.  What I didn't expect. but was delighted to meet, was the dynamic, energetic, friendly and passionate woman with the colourful hair with a personality bubbling with passion for her profession as a Chef.  And mentor, as it turns out.

Chef Ericka was groomed for the foodservice industry at a very young age (12) at her family home on Christian Island north of Barrie where, she tells me, she had very humble beginnings in the bush foraging for food items and creating such things as Choke Cherry jam.  Her mother, however, planted the seed for foodservice.  Her mother was the chef at the Georgian Peaks in Collingwood for years and then operated a snack bar and road house closer to home in their community.  Nowadays you will find her mom tirelessly preparing her famous meat pies (they are legendary and hard to come by).

Ericka graduated from Liaison College in 2007 or so, and since then has been working her way through local kitchens learning and perfecting her craft.  At 32 years old, she has been working in the industry for over 20 years.  Hard to believe!

Ericka coached the grads assembled by telling them that the industry was for the passionate; you get out of it what you put into it.  Ericka is living proof that hard work and dedication do pay off.  Today she is the Executive Chef at Christie's Mill - Inn & Spa - a posh resort at Port Severn - and her weekly hours in the kitchen are enhanced with endless amounts of paper that pile on her desk.  It's a 7 day a week job - speaking at the grad afforded her a much needed break.

Some fun facts about Chef Ericka:
Largest Function Ever - the G8 Summit at Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville
Best accomplishment - she has a wonderful 9 year old son
Food Philosophy - pay attention to details; be dedicated; keep it simple
What she aspires to - Celebrity Status
And when I asked her about Celebrity Chef status she simply replied:  "Google me"
I did.  Impressive.  A star that's definitely on the rise!
Thanks for making us look good, Chef Ericka!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Food is a Family Affair

I've come to a couple of conclusions and when I share the following anecdotes with you, you may come to similar conclusions or be able to add your own to the roster of precarious (and often funny) food tales.

My father-in-law will be 96 years old in the fall.  He's lived a good, full life and is still full of life with a lot more living to do.  He's been married for 71 years to the same lovely bride and they enjoy living in their long time family home surrounded by grand children and great grand children.  Life is good.  The twinkle in his eyes is a give away to the rascal that dwells within; he's a naughty boy with a prank or two up his sleeves.  The other thing he has is a very good appetite.  He enjoys food and loves to eat.  It seems, however, that his appetite is not filled with the regular 3 squares and he is always on the look out for a snack.  Sweets are great.  So is fresh cold cuts right out of the fridge.  But his favourite go-to snack is a cheese slice or two.  The only trouble is, he peels the cheese and enjoys the tasty square.  Then he deposits the wrapper in his pants pocket or sweater pocket.  Only to be discovered on laundry day - and you can be sure that he's not the lord of laundry.  The cache of empty wrappers is a source of many conversations and many chuckles as we visualize Grampa by the fridge rummaging for cheese slices.  I thought it was particularly funny because my husband inherited his dad's knack for singles slices.  Today while I was hanging the laundry out on the line, a small square of plastic fluttered out of the pocket of his shorts.  I chased the piece as it blew gently in the breeze and to my surprise (not really) and total amusement, I see that it's a cheese wrapper.  Nicely tucked into the pockets of a pair of shorts and tossed in the wash for a good rinse.  Like father, like son.

In this next story I have to be a bit vague to protect the guilty.

I was chatting with a chef instructor the other day and we were reviewing the menu for an upcoming kids cooking camp.  I suggested that he could use produce and get a delivery from the supplier.  But he waved off that suggestion in favour of a personal shopping trip.  While my husband detests any kind of shopping and most of all for groceries, this chef seemed almost euphoric at the thought.  So I agreed that he should personally see to the shopping for the campers needs and he was delighted.  Weird?  I must have had a look on my face that said so without words and he continued to tell me that he LOVES the grocery store.  In fact, he exclaims, it's one of his most favourite things to do ever!  So much so that he volunteers to go shopping for his family.  Several times per week.  His wife will say "honey, where are you going?" and he tells her shopping for groceries.  One day, on just such an excursion, he heads out to the local grocery store only to feel that he is being followed - that ESPish feeling where you think you're being watched.  He looks around.  Nothing.  He continues to browse the aisles and the neck hairs bristle.  There is someone there!  He spins around quickly and spots a head just as it disappears around the corner of the aisle.  Honey?  Is that you?  and around peeks his wife.  Sheepish.  She thought he was having an affair.  And never for one minute thought it might be with Aisle 3.  For the love of fresh produce.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rafting in the summer - it's not what you think

Summer time is everyone doing things outdoors in great weather and taking it easy.  Or is it?  Having been around the kitchen for many years there are some concepts that don't sink in right away.  Like the raft, for example.  Some might immediately visualise Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and a lazy river.

But today I finally got the culinary meaning of  "raft".  Sure, I've heard it a thousand times, but it wasn't until today that I actually witnessed the real thing.

consommé - one of the basics in a French cuisine repertoire - requires a raft

consommé starts with a mirepoix (a finely diced combination of celery, onions and carrots) among other things including egg whites (see the recipe below from the Food Network's Emeril Lagasse)
When the ingredients start to cook they form a "raft".  The raft acts as the filter for the consommé and ends up floating to the top of the stock pot. 

when the consommé is finished you have to gently poke a hole in the raft to get to the clear, crisp consommé that is beneath

The result is a perfectly clear and filtered consommé that can be used in many aspects of the French kitchen and, when reduced and chilled produces aspic. But that's for another day.  Happy rafting.

Chicken Consomme: Basic Clarification

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001
Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
30 min
2 quarts


  • 4 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced leek
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup peeled, finely chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme (stems and leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon (stems and leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (stems and leaves)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 8 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 8 cups chicken stock, defatted

Optional Garnishes:

  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Chopped chives, for garnish
  • Lemon slices, for garnish
  • Toast points, for garnish
  • Diced seeded tomato and finely shredded basil leaves
  • Thinly sliced mushrooms and minced fresh parsley or chervil
  • Small, thin bread rounds topped with finely shredded Parmesan and toasted
  • Diced carrots and fresh peas
  • Finely shredded savoury crepes
  • Lettuce/chervil chiffonade
  • Shredded leeks lightly Sauteed in butter


In the bowl of a food processor, combine the ground meat with the onions, leeks, celery, carrots, thyme, tarragon, parsley, garlic, and black pepper. Puree on high speed.
In a bowl, combine the egg whites with the pureed meat mixture. Stir well to blend.
Place the stock in a large pot and add the "raft" (the pureed meat-egg white mixture). Bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent the raft from sticking to the bottom and sides of the pot. (Once the stock has come to a boil, do not stir again.) Reduce to a simmer and puncture a hole in the centre of the raft for the stock to circulate through and clarify. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Gently poke a hole in the raft large enough to fit a ladle. With a ladle, gently scoop out the consomme into a clean pot or bowl. Strain through a layer of cheese cloth to finish clarifying.
Serve hot with desired garnish. Alternatively, transfer consomme to a shallow bowl or roasting pan and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, covering with plastic wrap only when the consomme is cool enough that no condensation forms on the plastic. When the consomme is completely cooled, cut it into 1/2-inch cubes and divide between consomme cups. Garnish with sour cream, chopped chives, and a lemon slice and serve with toast points.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let Them Eat Steak

There's just something about summer that evokes the smell, sizzle and taste of a BBQ steak.  In a quest to conquer the concept of  bovine BBQ bliss, I thought it best to go to the ultimate source.  A trusted source:  Chef/Butcher and former Liaison College instructor - Michael Cortese - now the proud owner and operator and chief meat maestro at Cordino's Fine Meats in Barrie.

Cordino's Fine Meats & Deli @ FaceBook

Rule number one:  find out where the meat is coming from; happy cows make for better tasting beef products.
Cordino's buys their beef from a friendly farm in Schomberg where cows are able to graze in fields and enjoy their days in the outdoors.

Rule number two:  Insist on dry aged meat (versus the wet aging process which occurs in the kryo-packages that meat is stored in upon slaughter - and left there until cut for sale)

Rule number three:  select your cut of meat with your own taste in mind and don't forget about the cheaper cuts which, when prepared properly, can be a surprisingly delicious option.
Rule Number four:  make sure your meat is dry (using a paper towel for example) before seasoning and it is recommended that you brush the meat with oil before seasoning with salt and pepper only according to your taste
Rule Number Five:  make sure your grill is hot and clean - a charcoal grill is recommended - and your meat is cooked only until desired doneness is reached; pros will use the finger method to test for doneness (pressing the meat and the firmer the more done it is) but you can always fall back on a meat thermometer until you reach "pro" status
Rule Number six:  when you pull your meat from the grill, make sure you let it rest for 2 min so that the juices (which are flowing quickly due to heat) are allowed to settle back into the flesh for full flavour impact
Enjoy your steak.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Game of Thrones for Business?

I have a new addiction; thanks to my step daughter, Sarah.  Game of Thrones.  The HBO series, now in its third season, is a medieval saga surrounding the kingdoms and their battles for control of the throne.  Just as I am reeling from the Season One finale (it's like a page turner where you can't put the book down and burn the midnight oil just to get to the end) I open my email to find a news alert from Jeffrey Gitomer (he's a sales and marketing guru who puts out email blasts of encouragement to his readership).  Today's alert caught my eye in particular because of its reference to thrones....  here's the excerpt:

Is the Sword of Damocles Hanging Over Your Head!?

Dan Heffernan, General Manager of Dale Carnegie Digital

The flatterer Damocles was once given the chance to see for himself what it was like to be a king. He tasted the exhilaration while sitting on the royal throne, until he looked up and saw a sword dangling by a string over his head. In a flash the flatterer gladly gave the seat back to its rightful owner.

To be a leader is to act, and to act is to take risks. Think about it. Is it possible to separate leading from risk-taking? Some who aspire to lead have a tough time making a decision under pressure. They blanch like Damocles when they notice the sword, responding to the natural risks of leadership by inaction, avoidance, or even reckless reaction, any one of which is likely to increase the consequences of the risk. How do you handle risk?


Monday, July 15, 2013

Chef of the Day

Many gourmet cooks aspire to the notion of business ownership.  Whether it's a B&B, fine dining establishment, organic loca-vore bistro, food truck or catering - just a few of the options that has enticed Liaison College graduates.  It all started with a chance to be Chef of the Day while in class.  Business ownership without the risk is one way that Liaison College students are introduced to the operation of serving live customers.

Students are required to create a menu, prepare the costing, the ingredient (shopping list) and execute the menu for real customers.

From the Farm is owned and operated by Cynthia Peters, a Liaison College graduate who envisioned a special place where foodies could gather to share good food and knowledge. 
With over 9,500 "likes" and followers, Gorilla Cheese is the brain child of Liaison College grad, Graham Smith. This business plan class project didn't just go viral; it went LIVE.
The 3rd mayor of Whitby, Ezra Anne, built a family home in 1836.  Today this heritage home houses the Ezra Anne's B & B owned and operated by Liaison College grad, Christine Bilas.  Christine offers accommodations, private parties, weddings and other events; she even incorporates her passion for sailing into the mix.

Taking a stab at the trendy BBQ fad is Liaison College graduate Steve Varnasidis in Cambridge ON.  Steve's venture, Q BBQ Public House , features all of the regular BBQ and smoking favourites you would expect to find.
Join us for a Chef of the Day experience and meet the future chefs coming to a neighbourhood near you!