Food Diaries: Jamie’s Italian

Jamie's Italian - Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie’s Italian – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 3401 Dufferin St.; Toronto, Ontario, M6A 2T9 (Yorkdale Mall)
Phone Number: 416-238-7450

Way back on October 19th 2012 I was sitting in Massey Hall listening to my first Cooking inspiration Jamie Oliver speak (see blog post). I left with very high hopes that one day a restaurant of his would make it to Canada; as he did say when asked by another fan that I’m paraphrasing of course “that if I could bring one of my restaurants to Canada it would be Jamie’s Italian as it would work best here; because of its regimented menu that could be moved to a Canadian market easily.” Well it’s been 3 years 1 month and 19 days and he stuck to his word. Jamie’s Italian is now open in Yorkdale Mall and the moment reservations were up I knew I was going to make this my birthday meal in January and I excitedly made reservations.

For my birthday dinner I had: Antipasti – Garlic Bread With oozy garlic & herb butter; Pasta – Pasta Vongole Tagliolini -Steamed sweet clams with garlic, chilli, white wine, capers, parsley & lemon; Main – Burger Italiano Chargrilled beef burger with melted fontina cheese, crispy schiacciata piccante, gherkins, chilli, crispy fried onions& salsa rosso crudo; Non-Alcoholic Cocktail – Refresher Fresh lemon juice, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade.

The food was great and if you love garlic and chillis; which is Jamie’s thing then this is your menu. I found the pasty spicy of course; but it was tasty and the garlic bread was butter goodness. The server quipped to be careful that those were pickles on the burger but chilli’s as another customer didn’t realize and mistook them for pickles. Yiikes. . This is one the few restaurants where I can say the staff from beginning to end were super friendly and knowledgeable. Also they were using a POS system that was on an electronic device much like an Ipad which made the whole experience sleek, cool and fast. Two can dine for about 60$ including dessert

The spirit of the menu is those things I attribute to Jamie and even Gennaro one of his mentors. His food has always been simple easy and uncomplicated; so if you’re expecting something out of this world then you should try another chef’s restaurants. However; if you want rustic, flavourful food that’s something mama would make for you then this is a must visit for you.

Overall the restaurant will fit in nicely with all the other casual dining franchises and restaurants across Toronto, and being located in Yorkdale mall makes it easily accessible throughout the G.T.A. Just make sure to make a reservation or be ready to wait upwards or 45 minutes for a table until the new shine of the first Jamie Oliver restaurant in Canada wears off. I already want to come back for the burger sans chilli’s of course and taste those fries and maybe a dessert next time around.

Jamie's Italian - Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie’s Italian – Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie's Italian - Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie’s Italian – Candy Coated Culinista

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Jamie Oliver

When: Friday October 19th 2012, 7:00 pm
Place: Massey Hall

Jamie’s in town and I can’t wait. I have been watching him since I was a teenager. I wasn’t even into cooking yet, just liked the show and kept watching. I can honestly say he was the first chef who got me enthused and into cooking even if it was only suggesting ideas to my mom to cook for me. I remember watching him on TVO before Canada had any solely-dedicated food stations and I just thoroughly enjoyed the show and how he made cooking so easily accessible that even a young person like me could accomplish a recipe and not feel intimidated.

I have been excitedly waiting for this event to come around; I even went by Massey Hall the day before to take a picture of Jamie’s name on the Marquee (geeky I know). The price of the show included a copy of Jamie’s Great Britain – 130 of my favourite British recipes, from comfort food to new classics; and we received a surprise copy of Jamie Magazine. Guests of the show were allowed to ask Jamie questions and some would be selected from the audience. I didn’t have a question in mind so I choose a light hearted one – “What was your biggest mistake when you first became a chef? I should have picked a more hard hitting question but sometimes it is nice for celebrities to not be asked the same questions time and time again; and I wanted to mix it up a little. My question wasn’t chosen, but that’s alright with me.

After a short introduction by the host, Matt Galloway from CBC’s Metro Mornings; Jamie came out waved to the audience, accepted his applause and got down to business. Matt and Jamie chatted and he told stories about cooking and his childhood. I seem to find UK people to always be hilarious, witty and charming. Their type of humour is much like my own so needless to say I laughed a lot. Jamie shared a few anecdotes I’d like to share with you all: He was in special needs class back in school. (But he truly wasn’t special needs; it was just how the school system regarded anyone who needed to learn in a different manner). He is dyslexic and the school couldn’t handle his needs back then. The kids in his class would sing “Special needs” to the tune of The Beetles “Let it be” every time he was called to go out to his specific classes. One of the funny moments was Jamie actually sang it for us and we all chuckled. It’s pretty cool that he can laugh at this and see it for what it’s worth. He also mentioned that he grew up around food as his parents owned and ran a pub named “The Cricketers” where he got to practice his skills.

A question was asked of how he likes the Canadian TV food stations and he thought Food Network Canada was better than Food Network America, because the quality of programming was higher in his eyes. He spoke of his Food Revolution and how not enough kids know how to cook; and this needs to be as important as Science, Math and English even if only the basic cooking skills are taught. He believes there are 10 meals that can save your life, and they are just basic recipes that are not made from processed foods that make us unhealthy. He commented that if he could bring one of his restaurants to Canada it would be Jamie’s Italian as it would work best here; because of its regimented menu that could be moved to a Canadian market easily. Jamie is passionate about mentoring and has done so with Chef Derek Dammann (Maison Publique) a gastro pub that Jamie partnered with Derek in this endeavour. Jamie believes you should mentor the up and coming as much as you can, and unlike some other chefs who don’t necessarily like doing this in fear of being out-shined, he believes in it whole-heartedly. As sometimes without a well-established chef’s mentoring you just can’t make it whether it’s financial or other obstacles that get in your way.
Jamie spoke of his love of Scotch Bonnets & Chillis. Any fan knows this and he told us of a story with one of his daughters: she was talking back to him and he was trying to be patient, even though she was pushing all his buttons he tried to let it slide. But when she came back a few moments later all happy and carefree Jamie was still ticked. She asked “daddy can it have a treat”. So Jamie gave her a treat alright, he spiked it with hot peppers and then he could hear her saying off in the distance “mommy this treat is hot”.

Back in his early days Paul Smith the designer used to frequent a restaurant Jamie worked in and Jamie was none the wiser. When Jamie had his first big break he bought a Paul Smith suit and was told by a co-worker that you’ve cooked for him numerous times, and he’s out there right now! He’s the one who sent compliments to the chef. Now Jamie didn’t believe it was him and asked for some ID and upon seeing the ID he was shocked and they have been friends ever since.
Jamie spoke to us about his new show at the time called Food Fight Club, where you find the best of a particular British food from all across Great Britain (eg. Sausage, desserts, cheese), and then they take the dish and products overseas to battle it out with the French, German, and Italians etc. Celebrities will be involved and the studio audience will be able to participate

This was a great night and I will treasure getting to see the man who got me excited about food.

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