The best eats from an all-chef hockey fest in Prince Edward County

When Toronto and Montreal's finest meet, it's a tailgate for the ages


Chefs generally thrive on some healthy competition, but at the Drake Devonshire earlier this month, that got cranked to a whole other level. Two hockey teams, featuring an all-star lineup of Montreal and Toronto chefs (including Jamie Kennedy, Chuck Hughes, Cory Vitiello and Anthony Walsh, to name a few) met in Prince Edward County to battle it out on the ice, but not before engaging in some A+ trash talk.

There were, of course, killer game concessions — as well as a packed schedule of eats and tastings before and after, including a killer afterparty at the Drake Devonshire. Chefs who weren’t even playing that weekend, like Craig Wong, even made the trek to nosh on some rare treats from Montreal chefs and support their buds. In short, it was the hottest Toronto food event of the winter — and it didn’t even go down within city limits.

On the morning of February 4, guests at the Dev awoke to find chefs already at work wrangling a whole lamb, which cooked from noon until night on an open flame outside the hotel entrance. 

The day kicked off with a “tailgate party” at Norman Hardie Wines — actually a packed tasting and snacking session inside the winery.

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Natalia Manzocco

Garde Manger brought smoked Quebec char on rye…

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Natalia Manzocco

…while Joe Beef did fantastic smoked meat sandwiches complete with their own house mustard.

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Natalia Manzocco

There were also riesling pours by the glass (hey, it was after 11 am).

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Natalia Manzocco

Then it was off to a pregame whiskey and cheese tasting co-hosted by Lot 40 and Cheese Boutique, high over the Essroc Arena in Wellington. Lot 40 master blender Don Livermore led chefs and guests through some samples from the vaults.

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Natalia Manzocco

There was also a lot of cheese.

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Natalia Manzocco

A lot of cheese.

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Gil Wertheim

The unexpected smash hit: A Quebec Bleu D’Elizabeth, over which Cheese Boutique owner (and Toronto Grinder) Afrim Pristine grated some crystallized maple syrup.

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Gil Wertheim

Here, Garde Manger chef and Food Network Canada host Chuck Hughes explains to Pristine in great detail what’s about to happen to him on the ice.

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And then, the puck dropped.

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Natalia Manzocco

Smoke Signals chef Nick Chen-Yin, aka the Grinders’ “secret weapon”, tries to slide one past Mashers goalie Christopher Morgan (of Liverpool House).

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Gil Wertheim

Drake chef Ted Corrado in action.

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Gil Wertheim

Check Flock chef Cory Vitiello’s jersey number.

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Natalia Manzocco

Meanwhile, over at the concession tables, Grant Van Gameren ladled out a dill-and-sausage soup. (Local player Jess Jones, of the CWHL, wore his jersey on the ice in his stead.)

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Natalia Manzocco

The Drake’s Alexandra Feswick served tomato soup…

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Natalia Manzocco

…and grilled cheese sandwiches to go with.

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Natalia Manzocco

Over on the Montreal side, Garde Manger brought an entire Serrano ham to the game and sliced off slivers for guests. (Also adjacent to the Montreal cheering section: The beer garden.)

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Natalia Manzocco

Eventually, the Grinders emerged the victors (6-2), and the trophy was passed to Corrado, who did a victory lap with the trophy.

Barn Buner Hockey for Vice

Johnny Lam

So did coach Jamie Kennedy (though he didn’t have skates, so he kind of did a celebratory shuffle-jog instead).

Barn Buner Hockey for Vice

Johnny Lam

Capping off the night: A raucous strolling dinner back at the Devonshire.

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Johnny Lam

Spicy noodle soup with seafood by Montreal’s Park.

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Natalia Manzocco

Boudin noire from chef Derek Dammann of Maison Publique.

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Natalia Manzocco

Jamie Kennedy’s oxtail poutine.

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Natalia Manzocco

Le Bremner‘s chicken skin crisps with lobster and caviar.

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Natalia Manzocco

Tuck Shop and Liverpool House shucked oysters as the cocktails flowed late into the night.

Barn Buner Hockey for Vice

Johnny Lam

nataliam@nowtoronto.com | @nataliamanzocco

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