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Chef at Home: Ricardo Larrivée

If you like the affable, comforting persona of chef Ricardo Larrivée from his Food Network Canada show Ricardo and Friends, you can now bring him home with you. Sort of. The bilingual Quebec-based host—episodes of his popular series are filmed in the Chambliss home Larrivée shares with his wife and three daughters—has launched a line of cook- and bakeware available at Sears. The complete collection consists of pots, pans, utensils, and even storage containers. A frequent visitor to Toronto, Larrivée shares his thoughts on this city.

What are your favourite places to visit when in Toronto?

I love the antique stores in Yorkville. Also the Royal Ontario Museum, Pusateri’s, Stillwater Spa, and Kensington Market (at Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West) for its food, bars and ambience.

Do these places vary when you are by yourself, with your wife
or with your family?

I’m usually here on my own, although my wife joins me from time to time when her schedule permits. We love shopping on Bloor Street and Queen Street, and also enjoy live theatre in the Entertainment District on King Street West, as well as performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. When our three daughters are with us, we usually grab a bento lunch from one of the Japanese restaurants on Queen Street West and then catch a movie at the Scotiabank Theatre. They’re crazy about MoRoCo in Yorkville. It’s beautiful and it’s really good chocolate. And, of course, it goes without saying that they also love shopping in the city.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Toronto?

When I find myself in the Financial District, I go to Bymark—the outdoor terrace is great in the summer. Last year, I really got into the restaurants and bars on Ossington Street. My favourite is called Union. I really like C5 at the ROM or the café run by Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner Museum for lunch. For a romantic dinner, we eat at Canoe.

What is the single best dish you’ve ever eaten here?

I really enjoy the hot chocolate from MoRoCo. It’s not complicated but you have to do it right—and they sure do.

Is there something you like to buy here that you can’t get in Quebec?

I buy most of my furniture in Toronto and get it delivered to Montreal. And each summer we take a week to relax in the Niagara Peninsula. We absolutely love the lifestyle there; it’s better than California. We bring back lots of wine, vinegar, jam, honey, and other delicious goodies from the region.

What is your cooking philosophy and is there a Toronto restaurant you feel represents a similar approach?

Buy local, less is more, and remember: food is just an excuse to spend time with the people we love. Union is a place where I feel good and where the produce and producer are valued.

How would you say the dining scene differs between Toronto and Montreal?

Over the last 15 years, Toronto’s dining scene seems to have exploded; it’s multicultural and varied.

Do you have a favourite single item in your new cookware line?

That’s like asking me to choose one of my children. I’d have to say the three-ply Ricardo 11″ stainless steel sauté pan with glass lid because it’s such a staple and so versatile. And I love the handle. Stews, soups, sautéeing, braising, pop it in the oven… It’s deep enough to do all of these things and wide enough to hold an entire chicken. If I had to choose just one, that would be it.

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