Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Groundhog Day": A 7 Chef Competition at Cava Resto, Toronto

Groundhog Day is a competition of invited chefs for the best pork dish of the night. The annual competition has 2 prizes, one, a trophy and the second, a $250.00 gift certificate to The Cookbook Store.

The present competition had the following chefs: Ted Corrado of Compass Canada, formerly chef at C5 of the ROM; Teo Paul of Union Restaurant (; Ryan Donovan of Marben Restaurant (; Ryan Crawford of The Stone Road Grill ( Niagara on the Lake, Ontario; Mark Cutrara of Cowbell restaurant (; Guy Rawlings of Lucien restaurant (; Albert Ponzo of le select restaurant (

Non-competing host Cava's pork and beans by chefs Doug Penfold and Chris Macdonald. White navy beans with picked chunks of pig's trotters.

Spicy pork sausage in a tortilla, accompanied by fermented celery. My 3rd fave dish of the night.

Different parts of the pig presented as rilletes, chicheron, sauteed and liquified and fried terrine.

Pig's head and cod terrine, roti and saucisson. My second favourite dish of the night.

Albert Ponzo's (Le select) wild boar head cheese imbedded in foie gras terrine, with quail egg and guanciale en gelee, duck skin walnut crumble, brioche, prune and pear mostarda and pickled beet.

Chef Ryan Donovan's pork en croute with radish, pickled turnip, grainy mustard and verjus. The best visual presentation of the night.


Chef Mark Cutrara of Cowbell Restaurant presented a delicious heritage pork cotechino sausage flavoured with allspice, cayenne and nutmeg, and was accompanied by lentil du puis and pickled cherry "bomb". From a taste perspective, tied for my second fave dish of the night.

Chef Ryan Crawford's "fat-tastic dessert": "The Barnyard": smoked maple bacon ice cream "pig" with crispy "pig" tail; bacon "trough" with bacon caramel mousse; bacon caramel corn; cinnamon sugar crackling "dirt"; confit apple compote. All pig elements came from "home grown" Berkshire pigs. This dish was a triumphant success in every way...execution, flavours and presentation! The photo really does not do it justice. A clear winner for most of us and the grand prize winner at this event.

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