Who: Chuck Hughes -Chucks Day Off (Airs on Food Network Canada)
Alright so I am about to gush about Chuck Hughes, he is absolutely my most favourite Canadian Chef. Don’t get me wrong I have a bunch of Canadian chefs that I call my favorites, but there’s something about this man. Yes he is handsome and has an accent, but that’s not it. Yes he is tattooed which I find really cool; but it’s this man’s passion for food. Even the simplest of dishes he makes on his show “Chucks Day Off” exudes love and passion for his customers, employees, distributors, electricians, cleaners, the neighbours on his restaurants street and I could go on. He just loves making food for the people in his life in those minor and major roles. He’s a down to earth guy that loves what he does and nothing is better than that.
When he won Iron Chef America (a show I love to watch) I was glued hoping he’d win. The secret ingredient was Lobster and Chuck loves lobster, he has one tattooed on his arm. He made a lobster roll with a bloody Caesar cocktail, lobster poutine, lobster and onion ring salad with carrot butter and avocado and lobster-mushroom risotto and jerked-spiced lobster. (Some of these recipes are in his books.) Let me tell you it didn’t look good. I thought he was going to lose for sure, the critiques from the judges didn’t seem so nice and his face looked a little beaten down, but he won! He beat Bobby Flay who has a pretty good record on Iron Chef. So Chuck became the first Canadian to win and did what Roger Mooking and Lynn Crawford couldn’t do. I was so happy and even my dad watched it too and when we were talking the next day he said, “Did you see Iron chef, that guy you’re always watching won” to which I replied “Yes dad, yes I did and it was great.”
I have been watching his show for years but sadly the only book he had out was in French so my limited ability to read French would have ruined any recipe I tried. When he released Garde Manger in English I picked it up right away! This was my chance to finally try some of his cookbook recipes without the need of a translator!
Mr. C. and I were supposed to visit Garde Manger on our trip to Montreal, but those plans fell through and I was left wondering if I will ever get to visit his restaurant or have a chance to meet him, but my chance was on the way. His signing was at 12:00pm and I arrived minutes to 10:00am on a Mother’s Day. This was going to be my first mother’s day after my mom’s passing , so instead of staying at home and being down and depressed, Mr. C and I decided it would be a good way for me to get through the day and with it being Chuck and all, it felt designed just for me. I was first in line and was very thrilled about that thinking the whole time “This never happens to me!” Normally the biggest fans are there earlier, but then I realized I am the biggest fan.
He didn’t talk much prior to the actual autograph signing, but he made up for that when I got my book signed. Being the first in line has its perks, I got a few precious extra minutes with him. He shook my hand (I hadn’t had that yet at any of the book signings I have been to) and I told him that I loved his White Chocolate Meringue recipe; which was a hit with my husband who is not a fan of Meringue and an Irish co-worker who absolutely loved it. He told me that he is not a fan of Meringue himself either, but he makes it because people love it. The same can be said for Fennel and a lot of his recipes have Fennel in it. He then told me that you can’t be a chef and cook just what you like, which is very true, it would be hard to make any money. So I got my signature and thanked him for coming to see us in Toronto, and walked away one happy girl. We were treated to finger sandwiches, coffee and a lovely three tiered cake from Pusateri’s Fine Foods, a gourmet grocer in the same mall as the bookstore. All in all it was a great day, and my best book signing yet! It made a very hard day that much better.