Food & Drink

Cookbook fracas: Susur Lee, Marc Thuet and other Toronto foodies displeased as Canadians left out of 100 Emerging Culinary Stars

Cookbook fracas: Susur Lee, Marc Thuet and other Toronto foodies displeased as Canadians left out of 100 Emerging Culinary Stars
Shut out: Canadian chefs have been left out of COCO

The country’s top chefs and food writers are outraged that an upcoming book profiling the world’s 100 most promising chefs does not include any Canadians. The 448-page book titled COCO: 100 Emerging Culinary Stars Chosen by 10 of the World’s Greatest Chefs will also contain recipes by these young, non-Canadian chefs. When Toronto writer Shaun Smith learned that there is still one slot left in the book, he promptly started a letter-writing campaign to the COCO’s British publisher, Phaidon, making the case for squeezing in some CanCon.

The letter (full text below) explains how disappointed the signatories are with the list. It’s an impressive collection of names: 24 of Canada’s top chefs and food writers have thrown their support behind Smith’s campaign, including Susur Lee, Jamie Kennedy, Marc Thuet, Anthony Walsh, Guy Rubino, Anne Yarymowich, Lucy Waverman and Toronto Life’s own James Chatto.

For the most part, the culinary A-listers say it’s Canada’s penchant for humility that led to the omission. Ame (formerly Rain) chef Guy Rubino told us that “Canadians do not celebrate Canadian talent nowhere near to the extent other countries celebrate their own talent…Books are created to sell books, and publishers/authors are going to feature chefs that will maximize their sales.” Globe food writer Lucy Waverman agrees. “We don’t toot our own horn enough so we miss out on getting included in these food lists. We don’t push what’s good even though we have many up-and-coming young chefs. I don’t know where Gordon Ramsey ate when he was here.”

Anthony Walsh of Canoe was shocked about the list. “If Jamie Kennedy was on the panel we’d get some Canadian contingent,” he says. “[The book has] a broad topic, but they should still do due diligence. It’s complete ignorance.”

Curious about the melee, we contacted the publisher in London. Phaidon’s representative, Aimee Bianca, had this to say:

We understand the disappointment of not being included. However, the decision of who is chosen in the book is not Phaidon’s, rather the 10 noted chefs who curated the emerging talents in the book. That’s what makes this book so special, that they are chefs chosen by their peers, without editorial interference.

That became obvious to us when we looked closely at the list of 99 confirmed chefs. Most of the chosen ones are from the same countries as the panel members. Here’s how the numbers break down:

CHOSEN CHEFS Japan, six Spain, six Hong Kong, five Australia, five U.K., 17 France, 11 U.S.A., 21

PANEL OF CHEFS Ferran Adria (Spain) Mario Batali (U.S.) Shannon Bennett (Australia) Alain Ducasse (France) Fergus Henderson (U.K.) Yoshihiro Murata (Japan) Gordon Ramsay (U.K.) Rene Redzepi (Sweden) Alice Waters (U.S.) Jacky Yu (Hong Kong)

“I don’t know if we were snubbed because it was all personal opinion,” said Mildred’s Temple Kitchen chef and co-owner Donna Dooher, who also signed the letter. “Maybe it’s time to look internally to see what’s wrong with us because we’re the only ones who can really make a change.”

She says it’s great to see the country’s culinary community band together, something she doesn’t see very often, to raise the country’s profile. Still, Dooher isn’t bitter about the exclusion: “I’m a cookbook and food book junkie so I’ll buy it even if there’s no Canadian talent. Boycotting the book isn’t going to solve the problem.”

*This story has been updated. For further developments, click here.


Dear Ms Terragni [Emilia],

We are writing to express our surprise and disappointment that, in assembling the list of emerging chefs for Phaidon’s forthcoming book, COCO, the ten esteemed curators behind the volume chose not to include any Canadian chefs in the book.

We have great respect for these ten curators, but as a group of senior chefs and culinary professionals in Canada, we have direct and immediate contact on a daily basis with numerous younger chefs and can assure you that there is a wealth of vital, emerging talent in Canada’s culinary community. To not include any of these young Canadian chefs in COCO leaves a rather large hole in the book.

We are given to understand that there may be a final spot still open in the book. One is better than none. We would encourage you and the COCO curators to look Northward to Canada to fill that last spot. We would be only too happy to assist with recommendations if desired.

We look forward to learning your thoughts on this matter, which, even as we write, is receiving widespread attention in the Canadian culinary and bookselling communities, as well as the media.


SUSUR LEE, executive chef and partner/owner, Shang, New York; Madeline’s and Lee, Toronto |

JAMIE KENNEDY, executive chef and owner, Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar, Gilead Café, & Gardiner Café, Toronto

ROB FEENIE, food concepts architect, Cactus Club , Vancouver

KAREN BARNABY, executive chef, The Fish House in Stanley Park, Vancouver |

SINCLAIR PHILIP, co-owner, Sooke Harbour House, Sooke, BC

MARC THUET, executive chef and co-owner, Conviction, Petite Thuet & Atelier Thuet, Toronto |

DONNA DOOHER, executive chef and co-owner, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Toronto

GUY RUBINO, executive chef and co-owner, Ame and Ushi Oni, Toronto

LORENZO LOSETO, executive chef, George, Toronto

JASON BANGERTER, chef de cuisine, Auberge du Pommier, Toronto

ANTHONY WALSH, corporate executive chef/partner, Canoe, Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants, Toronto

ANNE YARYMOWICH, executive chef, Frank, Toronto

MARTIN KOUPRIE, executive chef and co-owner, Pangaea, Toronto

JEFF CRUMP, executive chef, Ancaster Old Mill, Ancaster, ON

SAL HOWELL, proprietor, River Café, Calgary

LUCY WAVERMAN, award-winning cookbook author, Toronto

JAMES CHATTO, award-winning cookbook author, Toronto

NAOMI DUGUID, award-winning cookbook author, Toronto

JENNIFER MCLAGAN, award-winning cookbook author, Toronto

ANITA STEWART, award-winning cookbook author and culinary activist, Elora, ON

DARYLE NAGATA, executive chef, Pan Pacific, Vancouver

PINO POSTERARO, founder and proprietor, Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill,


MICHAEL NOBLE, principal and chef, Notable Restaurant Works


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