Six Toronto chefs that are offering mini cooking classes on Instagram

Six Toronto chefs that are offering mini cooking classes on Instagram

Separated from their restaurant kitchens, some of Toronto’s top chefs have taken to Instagram to share what they’re cooking in isolation— from elevated pantry staples (hello, black truffle KD) to quarantine cocktails. If your Covid-19 routine includes experimenting in the kitchen, now is as good a time as any to learn how to make La Palma’s famous red sauce or Massimo Capra’s favourite negroni. Here’s what six Toronto chefs are cooking up at home.


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Craig Harding

Where he normally cooks: Constantine and La Palma.
Where he’s cooking now: A cottage in Muskoka, where he’s isolating with his wife, Alexandra Hutchinson.

What he’s making: Lots of comfort food, like La Palma’s famous bolognese sauce, Moroccan and Ethiopian stews and lots of fresh vegetables—to be preserved in his new chest freezer, which he bought a week ago. Next up: braised oxtail and gnocchi. “I wanted to document some of my favourite dishes, and this really just gives me something to do,” says Harding. “It’s been a great way to connect with people and remind everyone of what my passion really is. Seeing people share videos of the dishes they’ve recreated has been really cool!”


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Romain Avril

Where he normally cooks: Romain has worked at La Société and Lavelle, but just before the pandemic hit, he was consulting for restaurants and teaching at George Brown College.
Where he’s cooking now: His St. Clair West home.

What he’s making: “The real question is, what haven’t I made?” asks Avril. Brioche, scrambled eggs, decadent French toast and vegan dishes like artichoke caponata and plant-based moussaka. Up next: elevated Kraft Dinner and some regional French dishes, including cassoulet.

“The first day we were asked to self isolate, I decided to make a video. It was like a calling. I enjoy teaching, and I felt like this was the best time to share, as many people are stuck at home but they don’t necessarily know how to cook. I’m here to help. As long as this lasts, I’ll be cooking for you guys.”


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Tomer Markovitz

Where he normally cooks: Markovitz worked as a culinary consultant for businesses and franchises, including Parallel. His own restaurant was scheduled to open this spring, but that’s been postponed.
Where he’s cooking now: His Corktown apartment.

What he’s making: “Because I have so much time on my hands now, I’ve been able to get into some complicated recipes. Everything I cook is improvised from what’s in my fridge and pantry, but I try to keep it interesting and cook a different cuisine for every meal,” says Markovitz. So far, he’s shared baked goodies like brownies, chocolate chip cookies and challah, as well as Thai pad kra pao (basil chicken stir-fry), shakshuka and caesar salad dressing.

“Connecting with the community is important to me—they’ve been supporting me since day one, and now they need it in return. I was already cooking at home, so I figured why not share it online and inspire others to feed their souls the way I do? I get a lot of messages from people asking questions or telling me that my videos help them stay sane while in quarantine. Now it’s just a part of my daily routine. It makes me happy knowing that what brings me joy in life is also bringing joy to others, especially during a time when they need it most.”


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Devan Rajkumar

Where he normally cooks: As a private chef, he’s travelled and cooked in Turks and Caicos, Nepal, India, Pakistan and the UK. When he’s in Toronto, he cooks for his catering business ChefDev, makes appearances on Cityline with Tracy Moore and is the brand ambassador for the Food Dudes.
Where he’s cooking now: His parents’ house in Richmond Hill.

What he’s making: “I’ve been cooking comfort food meals where I try to provide lots of tips and tricks while utilizing pantry staples,” says Rajkumar. He’s posted tutorials for grilled cheese with chimichurri, KD with black truffles, butter chicken, steak with bearnaise sauce and vegan coconut cauliflower curry (Tuesdays mean vegan recipes). Up next: tiramisu and creme brulée, as well as instructional videos about knife skills, mother sauces and how to store produce.


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Massimo Capra

Where he normally cooks: Capra’s Kitchen in Mississauga.
Where he’s cooking now: His Lorne Park home.

What he’s making: Creamless cream-of-broccoli soup, funghi trifolati, braised dandelion, squid ink risotto and recipes for some of his favourite cocktails, like a negroni and a caesar. Up next: more seafood recipes, a gnocchi tutorial—including an overview of the types of gnocchi found in various regions of Italy—as well as more salads and vegetable-heavy dishes. “I think this is a great way to keep in touch with people, and perhaps lighten the load for all the worried minds out there,” says Capra.

Matthew Duffy

Where he normally cooks: Duffy is a full-time baking instructor and program coordinator at Centennial College.
Where he’s cooking now: His East York home.

What he’s making: A whole lotta bread-based recipes—he’s already posted challah and wood-fired pizza tutorials, and plans on streaming a guide to sourdough, croissants, puff pastry, babka and matzah for Passover. “What we cook in a professional kitchen can be quite challenging, so I’m trying to simplify things for people at home, without sacrificing quality,” says Duffy. His videos feature his adorable sous chef, two-year-old daughter, Juniper, whose challah-braiding skills are quickly catching up to her dad’s.

“I wasn’t posting too much at the beginning of all this, but then I posted a story with my daughter mixing dough, and I got hundreds of messages from people thanking me for posting something positive and uplifting. I’m just trying to help people find something to do with their days. Without neglecting the seriousness of what’s going on right now, my posts are meant to be a fun and positive distraction.”