Name: Steven Eliot Gentile (aka Stefano Elio Gentile)
Hometown: St Leonard
Favourite cuisine: Italian
Drink of choice: Booze
Inspiration: Nonna and Dad
Culinary bio: Makin magic in the kitchen since 1984.
My Austrian grand parents owned the Hessler’s Meat Market, a butcher shop out in Winnipeg, Manitoba. My father has a talent for looking into an empty fridge and cooking up a delicious meal with what he can find. My favourite food scene is in the film “What About Bob” when Bill Murray stays at the doctor’s house for supper and goes crazy over how delicious the food is. I hate wasting good food. I am also the official food photographer.
I love food for it’s surprising colors, textures, and transformative qualities. Most of all, I love food because it’s an adventure, in which I discover new cultures, cooking techniques, and most importantly, new friendships. Honestly, what’s better than sitting around a table with a bunch of friends, sipping delicious wine and tasting authentic, made-with-love recipes? My staple, never-to-be-missed ingredients are onions, garlic, paprika and some form of seafood.
Coming from an Italian/Moroccan background, dinners at my house were always interesting. One night, my Dad would make spaghetti aglio e olio and the next my Mom would make stuffed Israeli artichokes. All this to say that my palate is very well traveled. I love homey-style food as well as clean and simple flavours. I guess it depends on my mood (and the weather in Montreal).
Born in the cold winter of 1983, Jean-Francois Michaud quickly learned the basics to keep warm: Kraft Dinner, grilled cheese and frozen pizza. Once he got bored of eating the same things, he quickly learned to cook delicious meals with whatever is around the house. Overall, J-F is a full bodied cook, just like a perfectly aged Single Malt Scotch. His Italian heritage reveals a pallet marked by fresh vegetables, smelly cheeses, perfectly cooked meats and delicious fresh pasta. Oh wait, there are no vegetables, cheeses, meats or pasta in the house. Do you wanna just order pizza?
I am by no means a culinary genius. However, what I lack in innate talent I make up for with my desire to discover new flavours. This curiosity pushes me to constantly expand my foodie knowledge and try out new things in the kitchen. I love complex flavours as much as I do simple ones when done right. Coming from a predominantly French Canadian background (with a few other things in the mix), I strive to perfect staple dishes such as fèves au lard and creton. As humble as these classics may seem, it takes many attempts and many more failures to get them just right, but that’s what makes cooking so fun. In the future, I would like to learn how to cook decent Thai and Indian food. Until then, I will keep honing my skills with each and every throwdown!
When I cook solely for myself, I am sadly a functional cook (read eating to stay healthy and alive). When I cook for others it’s another story. To me it is a way of communicating, learning, teaching, experimenting and showing I care. I love finding new recipes (tastespotting.com rocks my world) which I usually only use as inspiration and never really follow other than for an idea of ratios for ingredients. Most of the time I pull off interesting results and I do think that its partly due to the love I put in it as well as the fact that I’m not scared of messing up (after all fresh pizza is always a phone call away).
This is what I strive for each and every time I cook – for it to turn out so good that, even though you’ve eaten to the point of bursting out of your pants (hey, I’m Italian, I always cook for double the amount of people), you need a piece of bread to wipe off all the wonderful flavours sitting at the bottom of your plate.
I’m all about keeping things simple in the kitchen and I pride myself on being able to whip up a great last-minute meal (the spicier the better) with whatever is in the fridge. Since I often forget to go grocery shopping, this usually yields some pretty interesting results (foie gras pizza anyone?) My inspiration is usually spur-of-the-moment, depending on who’s coming over. I’ll try anything once, but always keep a bottle of Sancerre handy just in case.