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International Guest Chefs

Blog post #5 by 2014-15 student blogger Eli Silverthorne

It is hard to fully encapsulate the culinary aptitudes that the Stratford Chefs School instills in its apprentice students. Its structure is as unique as it is comprehensive. Having students run a functional kitchen five days a week is an excellent approach, enhanced by the fact that students work hands-on with guest chefs. The school’s International Guest Chef series has students work alongside some of the world’s most notable chefs, an opportunity unheard of elsewhere in the country.

This years guest chefs, Francesco Lagi, from Villa Mangiacane in Tuscany Italy, and Michael Hazlewood from London England’s Toasted, represented two very different approaches to cuisine, each extremely successful in concept, and delightfully educational in execution.

Chef Lagi was 100% authentic to his Tuscan heritage, terroir cooking methodologies and culture. He is knowledgeable in his craft, and eloquent in his stories of his Villa in Tuscany, where they produce Chianti Classico wine and forage for mushrooms daily. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity work with him in the kitchen, and wonderful to dine at one of his five meals as a guest.

For me, the smoked trout dish stole the show, and stands out as the best dish that I have tasted all season! The textures of the crispy chicharrones, the buttery flavour of the smoked salmon, the crunchiness of the cubed apples, and the richness of the sherry vinaigrette foam underneath were absolutely sublime. Involving a smoked product, hitting all the right textural notes, perfect flavour affinities, and a healthy dose of acidity meant this course was a home run by my standards.

It was an absolute pleasure working with each of these uniquely talented chefs and experience the realization that excellence can be achieved many different ways.

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