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Q&A: The Drake’s Ted Corrado on this weekend’s hockey game that pits Toronto’s top chefs against Montreal’s

Q&A: The Drake's Ted Corrado on this weekend's hockey game that pits Toronto's top chefs against Montreal's
Chef Jamie Kennedy (left) coaches Toronto Grinders captain, Ted Corrado. Photo courtesy of the Drake

This weekend, a whole whack of Canada’s culinary all-stars will gather in Prince Edward County, where they’ll put it all on the (goal) line for the first ever Chef’s Barn Burner Hockey Game that pits the Toronto Grinders against the Montreal Mashers. The charity event—which benefits Community Food Centres Canada—also includes snacks and a ticketed, post-game feast at the Drake Devonshire featuring dishes from Montreal’s Joe Beef and Garde Manger, St. John’s Raymonds, Toronto’s Richmond Station and many others. We spoke with Toronto’s team captain, Ted Corrado, corporate executive chef of the Drake, to find out which city has the edge, and why chefs make excellent trash talkers.

Wrangling more than 20 of the most in-demand chefs from Montreal and Toronto couldn’t have been easy. How did this all come together? It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a few years. Danny [Smiles], Chuck [Hughes] and I have always talked about playing hockey together. I was doing a Chefs for Change dinner with Danny and I said, “Dude, let’s do this.” We decided to make it a charity event for the CFCC, so there’s a greater purpose and not just a bunch of guys playing beer league. Once we put it out on social media, my phone just blew up.

Team captain Corrado (centre) giving a pep talk—or trash talking. One or the other.
Team captain Corrado (centre) giving a pep talk—or trash talking. One or the other.

I gather this is the realization of a dream? So you’re a big hockey guy? Ha! Yes. I’m a first-generation Canadian, and for my parents, assimilation meant Hockey Night In Canada every Saturday night. I grew up playing street hockey and eventually mastered skates. Now I play every week.

You’re captaining the Toronto Grinders. Be honest—what are our chances? Well the Montreal crew plays twice a week and none of the Toronto guys manage to get together. We’re actually having our first practice tomorrow morning to see who can skate.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but sounds like smart money’s on Montreal. We’re definitely doing a kind of Bad News Bears thing. I know they play twice a week, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good. But it’s all in good fun—we just want to provide some great entertainment for a good cause.

Smoke Signal's Nick Chen-Yin might be Toronto's secret weapon.
Smoke Signal’s Nick Chen-Yin might be Toronto’s secret weapon. Photo courtesy of the Drake

Anyone who might be a secret weapon? I think maybe Nick [Chen-Yin] from Smoke Signals. He was a last minute addition. He plays three times a week, so I’m hoping he can dance around these guys. We’ve also got Jeremy Charles, from Raymonds in St. John’s, who’s going to play on the Toronto team. Word on the street is that if he didn’t get into cooking, he could have pursued a career in hockey.

Hockey players are known for their trash-talking abilities. How do chefs rank? We had an email going around and there was a lot of chirping going on. Some of the Toronto guys gracefully backed out when they realized they needed to own hockey equipment.

When you say “chirping,” are we talking “Yo Mama” jokes and that kind of thing? No, we’re not going there. But this morning I posted, “Can’t wait to sharpen my knives on their hands of stone.” Saying someone has “stone hands” means they don’t have any finesse. Afrim Pristine and Cory Vitiello have been chirping the most. We’re trying to stay away from the mom jokes, though—no locker room talk.

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Are there any women on the teams? We have Alexandra Feswick from The Drake on our team, and Montreal has Nora Gray’s Emma Cardarelli. I searched high and low—a female chef who also plays ice hockey is a bit of a unicorn.

We’re talking about two pretty bro-y professions. Right, but I didn’t want it to be bro-y. Women from the Canadian national team will be at the event, and I’m sure they’ll make us guys look like a bunch of hacks on the ice.

The game is being played in P.E.C., which is in Ontario. Does that at least give Toronto some kind of hometown advantage? I actually think of the County as more of a Montreal town. Norm [Hardie] is a huge figure there and he’s very connected to the guys from Joe Beef. A lot of people who live there are from Montreal or have connections to the city. And then Toronto is a city that people want to hate. I’m sure there are moments when people who live in the County are annoyed with all of the Toronto tourists.

Canoe's John Horne (right) gets a talking-to from chef Jamie Kennedy.
Canoe’s John Horne (right) gets a talking-to from chef Jamie Kennedy. Photo courtesy of the Drake

Has there been a bet placed in advance of the big game? Like losers have to admit that the other city has way better restaurants? There are definitely major bragging rights at stake.

There is a longstanding culinary rivalry between Toronto and Montreal. Presumably you think we have the edge. I’ve gotta be honest, I think I’d have to give it to Montreal.

Wow! A little loyalty maybe? When I talk to chefs from Montreal, they talk about how much they love coming to Toronto, but there’s just something so magical about Montreal city that’s hard to describe. Everything is a lot smaller, privately owned and there’s just this overall warmth and character. We have that in Toronto, but then we also have these massive restaurants where you can go and have great experiences and great food. But that ambiance, that Old World feeling—we’re lacking in that.

Is it the European heritage? Exactly. There’s a Quebecois unity, there’s soul. The cuisine is really rooted in classic stuff—it’s food that your grandmother used to make, and you can taste the love that goes into it.

But can Montrealers get Korean-Mexican fusion at 2:30 in the morning? Right. In Toronto there are so many different types of food. You can get everything and you can get it at almost any hour, which is amazing. And you look at a place like Alo that’s so creative and innovative. We definitely have a lot of great stuff going on here.

Complete this sentence: Montreal is to poutine and Toronto is to _________. Whatever’s trendy.

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