Inside Open Kitchen, a dinner series benefiting female chefs

Ivana Raca, Cory Vitiello, Afrim Pristine and more kicked off the first event at Ufficio


Open Kitchen Toronto wants to do just that for young female chefs. The new initiative, created by restaurateurs Stacey Patterson and Jennifer Coburn (Ufficio) and chef Ivana Raca (Ufficio and Resto Boemo), is rolling out a series of dining events, with the aim of funding a scholarship for female-identified students at George Brown College’s culinary program.

The three held the inaugural dinner – the first in a series set to feature Lynn Crawford and Elia Herrera, among others — at Ufficio on Monday night.

“It’s so important to support each other in the industry,” Raca said before the dinner began. “I know we all have our head down and we’re always working, but it’s so important. If this rubs off on even one female chef, you’ve done your job.”

In an effort to involve the other side of the gender binary, Raca recruited Afrim Pristine (Cheese Boutique) and Cory Vitiello (Flock), who took their marching orders from Raca in the restaurant’s tiny (and open) kitchen. The $150-per-plate event was packed – and raised enough to fund a year’s tuition (plus books, chef ware and knives).

Here’s a closer look at the atmosphere, drinks and food.

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Natalia Manzocco

Raca gave the final black truffle grating to her signature Insalata d’Ivana.

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Natalia Manzocco

Caviar chips topped with creme fraiche and Northern Divine caviar.

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Natalia Manzocco

Kendall Mitchell shucked dozens of Raspberry Point oysters.

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Natalia Manzocco

Drake bartender Sandy de Almeida handled the cocktails, including the Rust & Bone, made with cedar-infused Lot 40.

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Natalia Manzocco

The Insalata d’Ivana features shaved asparagus and king oyster mushrooms, pickled honey mushrooms, ricotta salata and white truffle vinaigrette. 

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Natalia Manzocco

Lobster tortelli was one of two main courses (the other was sea bass with lentils).

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Natalia Manzocco

Dessert was a pavlova with a kirsch and cherry compote, chocolate crumbles and painstakingly-applied white-chocolate curls.

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Natalia Manzocco

Sarah Keenlyside contributed truffles from CXBO for dessert.

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Natalia Manzocco

Nothing but love in that room.

For information on upcoming events, visit Open Kitchen Toronto.

nataliam@nowtoronto.com | @nataliamanzocco

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