This is what happens when 12 culinary students get to cook with Paolo Lopriore, the world’s 39th best chef

This is what happens when 12 culinary students get to cook with Paolo Lopriore, the world’s 39th best chef

Chef Paolo Lopriore having a short meeting in the Prune’s kitchen (Image: Renée Suen) 

During the second year of their apprenticeship at the Stratford Chefs School—considered one of the most prestigious in the country—students are given the opportunity to learn from seriously talented guest chefs, including many with Michelin stars to their name and not a few regular patrons of the illustrious San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant list. Past chefs have included Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillere, France), Riccardo Camanini (Villa Fiordaliso, Italy) and, most recently, Paolo Lopriore, head chef of Il Canto in Siena, Italy, the 39th best restaurant according to the 2011 list. We stopped by to see what he had to teach and scope out his creations.

Eleanor Kane, the school’s co-founder (and the recently named Woman of the Year by the Women’s Culinary Network), tells us Stratford’s unique International Chefs in Residence program gives students a firsthand experience of what’s going on in gastronomy outside of Canada. During the week, a team of 12 students work directly with the guest chef to host five dinner services at The Prune Restaurant. Each evening, a different student chef takes on the role as head chef and is given the responsibility of managing the kitchen brigade while four of their colleagues work the front of house.

Kane explains that Lopriore first visited in 2010 and made such an impact on the students and culinary instructors that they invited him back. Known for his experiments with the texture and consistency of simple ingredients, the chef told us he hopes that students appreciate the importance of understanding their ingredients—even a lowly carrot is significant in his style of Italian cooking. Lopriore commends the program for giving the student chefs serious exposure to both the front and the back of house, including dishwashing. For their part, the students are pretty happy, too. Beja Cassiano, one of the student chefs who worked directly under the master chef, tells us, “The chance to work extremely one on one with this calibre of chef and learn how to treat ingredients was pretty amazing.”

This week, the celebrity chef in residence is Emily Watkins from England’s much-lauded The Kingham Plough, a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Those interested in attending the student-cooked dinner can make a reservation through the school.