- Who We Are
- What’s ON
- The Waterfront
- Support Us
Top: Vanessa Yeung, Robin Pradhan
Bottom: Sasi Meechai, Sang Kim
About Chef Sasi Meechai-Lim
(defending Longo's Iron Chef champion):
Often called “the artist with the golden hands,” Sasi was born in the epicentre of Thai cuisine: Chiangrai province in Northern Thailand. Her early influences came from her family’s traditional northern Thai cooking which she happily describes as fundamental, fresh, healthy and complex. Acclaimed as the Best Thai Chef in Toronto by respected food critic Sara Waxman, Sasi was the tour de force at the award-winning restaurant, Me Thai. Sasi was invited to participate in the prestigious Bon Appetite Master Chef Series that features some of the world’s top chefs and has made appearances on behalf of Tourism Toronto.
Her ardent love of cooking, perseverance in her culinary creative process and mastery of ancient Thai cooking have developed her own unique food styles that succeed and surpass only by taste. All that — combined with immense talent — was the basis of a precocious career that won awards for her first two restaurants in Toronto. Fodor’s Travel Guide rated her cooking “the best Thai food outside of Chiang Mai.”
About Chef Sang Kim:
Sang Kim is an author (Ballad Of A Karaoke Cowboy, A Dream Called Laundry), restaurateur (Blowfish, Tasty's, KOKO! Share Bar) and culinary consultant. His latest writing project, Woody Allen Ate My Kimchi, is a candid and hilarious look behind the scenes at some of Toronto's top restaurants. He runs Sushi Making For The Soul, an irreverent and fun sushi-making class that directs participants to issues around sustainable sushi.
Please note: Chef Sang Kim will not be competing due to an injury, and is being replaced by Segar Kulasegarampillai.
About Chef Segar Kulasegarampillai:
Segar Kulasegarampillai was born in the Northern region of Sri Lanka. He spent his early childhood there until his restaurateur father moved the family to Madras in Southern India to escape political unrest. Segar immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1992. The next day he was working in the kitchen of Mildred Pierce as a dishwasher.
Segar pursued computer studies at Carleton University, but it wasn’t long before he decided to return to the restaurant world. Shortly thereafter, he was enrolled in the country’s most esteemed culinary institute: The Stratford Chef School. After graduating as a valedictorian in 1999, Segar staged at the world renowned Eigensinn Farm under Chef Michael Stadtlander. He also staged with Chef Morgan Jacobson in Manhattan before returning to his old haunt, Mildred Pierce – this time as Head Chef.
After five years there, Segar moved out west and worked as Sous Chef for Burnaby’s Hart House on Deer Lake until he was able to open his first restaurant named Suvai. He ran this successful French Bistro in Vancouver’s kerrisdale neighborhood for two years before feeling the desire to travel again.
He moved back to Toronto in 2009 with the intent to open his dream restaurant. He set down roots in the family-friendly neighborhood of Davisville, and in December of the same year, made his eponymous debut with Segar.
About Chef Vanessa Yeung:
Vanessa Yeung's culinary journey began as a cook in catering companies in and around the Toronto area. Desiring a deeper knowledge and understanding of food, she applied to the reputable Stratford Chefs School. The intense training and the opportunities that the school provided, led Vanessa to graduate with the Award of Culinary Excellence and a prestigious apprenticeship at one of Canada's top restaurants, Scaramouche. It was there she honed her skills and her palate, to understand that sometimes simplicity is the road to perfection.
After her time as a research and development chef at one of Canada's largest food manufacturing companies, Vanessa felt her true calling was catering and providing personal chef services. She has catered to the Hospital for Sick Children, York University, University of Toronto and the Credit Union of Ontario. Vanessa has also worked as a private chef to some of Toronto's most prestigious professional athletes.
About Chef Robin Pradhan:
The story of Owen Sound’s Robin Pradhan and the Rocky Raccoon Café actually begins in Amsterdam in the early 1990's. After nearly a decade working there as a waiter at 5-star restaurants and hotels, Robin perchance met Shelley Bentz, an adventurous Canadian lady who would become his wife. Fast forward to 1996, when Robin and Shelley had moved to the Bentz’s family cottage near Dyer’s Bay, on the Bruce Peninsula. They had been working as a waitress and dishwasher at a small, summers-only restaurant there, the original Rocky Raccoon Café, when the chance came up to buy the restaurant and name. After customizing the fare to reflect Robin’s native Asian and global cuisine, it didn’t take long for them to start acquiring fans from near and far. A second location in Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island followed before both were closed to focus on a new location in Wiarton. With the opportunity to purchase their own building in Owen Sound, Robin and Shelley were on the move once again, opening the current Rocky Raccoon Café on February 16, 2008, at its more central location on 2nd Avenue East in Owen Sound.
The menu brings the “100 Mile Diet” to life through a large network of local farmers and food producers, allowing Rocky Raccoon Café to serve some of the freshest and best foods available in Grey and Bruce Counties. Local fish, elk, bison, beef, lamb, and chicken, plus organic vegetables, cheeses, wines, and many others provide endless inspiration. The intention behind every dish served at Rocky Raccoon Café is ‘local and living’, a combined effort with local food producers to fill a desire to nourish both body and spirit.
“When you come to eat in my place, I see your life, literally”, says Robin. “You are handing it over to me and saying, ‘Here I am. Here is my body, here is my mind’ … and I am feeding you this meal and telling you that it is good and that it is going to benefit you and you are believing me.
“It doesn’t take much to cook good food. Pots and pans are my canvas, vegetables are my paints and, as an artist, what I try to do is find a balance. Compassion for appetite is the greatest meditation at Rocky Raccoon Café.”
This philosophy is part of what has won Rocky Raccoon Café critical acclaim, earning them a place in Anne Hardy’s “Where to Eat in Canada” guide each year since 2003. 2008 marked the addition of a coveted “One Star” rating to accompany their review, a distinction that Anne admits is extremely difficult to achieve. Her 2008 review raves, “Pradhan is Nepalese and the momos (dumplings with pork, beef, elk, or veggies steamed in rice pastry) he makes … are better than anything you’ll get in Nepal, or in Tibet for that matter.”
Combine the food with an Asian-inspired ambiance; quiet, warm, relaxed and inviting, yet professional and upscale, and you’ve got a great dining event you’ve just got experience!
At Rocky Raccoon Café, we can proudly tell you that more than 90% of our suppliers are local to Ontario, and especially the Grey and Bruce area, allowing us to offer you some of the best and freshest foods around! Below, we are happy to provide a list of many of these farmers and producers. We encourage you to become familiar with and support these local companies in your own kitchen, as we are certainly proud to use their products in ours!
About Andrew Chase (judge):
Andrew Chase began cooking as a child, and with an exceptional mentor: Charles Banino, executive chef of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Paris and Boston, who was a frequent visitor in his parents’ home. Today Andrew’s kitchen philosophy is the passionate – but exquisitely simple – credo of a true food and wine lover: “Find the best, seasonal ingredients, inspire your cooking with fresh ideas, enjoy the cooking process, and share the results with friends and family. And take two sips of good wine between every bite.”
In Homemakers and Canadian Living magazines, Andrew strives to offer readers those fresh ideas through accessible but sophisticated internationally-inspired recipes. His goal for readers is healthy and well-rounded eating, but he also hopes to inspire them to try new ingredients, new techniques and new flavours.
Prior to Homemakers, Andrew was associate food editor and wine writer for Canadian Living. He is also a contributor to Gastronomica (UCLA), the first English-language journal of food and culture; is the author of The Asian Bistro Cookbook (Robert/Rose, 1998), The Blender Bible (Robert/Rose, 2005) and 400 Blender Cocktails (Robert/Rose, 2006) and Canadian Living, The Barbecue Collection (Transcontinental Books, 2010); and from 1999 to 2001 wrote a food column for the Toronto Star.
From 1989 until 2000, Andrew was chef, proprietor and sommelier at a number of critically acclaimed restaurants in Toronto specializing in creative pan-Asian cuisine, including Berkeley Café (Gault Millaut Toque; New York Times Recommendation); Café Asia (named one of the top four restaurants in the city by Toronto Life) and Youki Asian Bar and Bistro (listed among the top 20 restaurants in Canada in Where to Eat In Canada, and highly recommended by Fizz [Germany] and Zagat’s Survey [U.S.]).
Andrew was educated at Columbia University (B.A.1976, Art History and Chinese Language), in New York City, and at National Taiwan University (B.A. and M.A. credits 1981, Chinese and Buddhist Philosophy), in Taipei, Taiwan. Before moving to Toronto in 1988, he worked in Taipei, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Manila. He has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Asia.
About Vincent Leung (judge):
Executive Chef of Senses, Vincent Leung, is known for his modern east-meets-west style. His flare for fusing the best of local fare with Asian tastes to create bold and flavourful dishes is the culinary signature that he brings to the well-respected Senses menu.
The introduction of Chef Leung as the newly appointed executive chef brings him full-circle to Metropolitan Hotels’ repertoire of high-end restaurants where he first apprenticed and began his career. Leung’s classical French training lends itself to tradition and attention to the details of fine dining, while his Pan-Asian culinary explorations inspire an Asian twist on classic dishes.
His authentic knowledge of Cantonese cuisine was instilled during his time in Hong Kong, where he developed his skills in the preparation and use of traditional Chinese delicacies, including abalone, at The Forum Restaurant. Leung also gained experience at Le Parisien, a western-style restaurant in Hong Kong with strong Asian influences. In addition to Chef Leung’s skill in Chinese cuisine, his style is strongly influenced by the flavours of Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Prior to Senses, Leung opened Habitat Restaurant & Bar in Canmore, Alberta. In 2010, Where Magazine ranked Habitat Restaurant & Bar one of the top ten Best New Restaurants in Canada, while Chef Leung was recognized as one of Westernliving Magazine’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40. Leading up to his success as Executive Chef at Habitat, Chef Leung held positions at some of Toronto’s top restaurants, including Monsoon Restaurant, the award-winning Lai Wah Heen and Hemisphere’s Restaurant & Bistro at the Metropolitan Hotel Toronto.
About Christian Pritchard (host):
Beginning his career as an event planner for Canada’s largest food retailer, Christian earned a reputation for planning large events such as Wine Region Tours from Toronto to Niagara and culinary events for corporate private parties. From there Christian further explored his delectable cooking skills and opened his first catering company, Bistrolicious. During this time Christian continued to emcee international trade shows in the communication field around the globe. Christian’s talent in cooking and entertainment was not to go unnoticed as he was then asked to produce, write and star in his own TV series for RogersTV, Durham Region
Christian has become a household name in food entertainment and can regularly be seen on the Food Network (Summer’s Best), RogersTV (Mission Meal, Diggin’ Durham, daytime), CHCH (Morning Live), CBC (Steven & Chris), and City TV (Breakfast Television). He has been nominated for a National Impression Award for his work on Mission Meal. As well as his television work, Christian can be heard on radio programmes such as Arlene Bynon’s travel show on Talk 640 and Saturdays with Ted Woloshyn on NewsTalk 1010.
When Christian Pritchard moved to the Durham Region in 2003, he immediately fell in love with the produce-rich farms surrounding him. Bringing him back to his first love of shopping from farmers for fresh food at the St. Lawrence Market, he could now shop right in his own backyard. He has connected both personally and professionally with the farmers in Durham Region and has become an advocate for local foods.
Now Christian is sought after for speaking engagements and continues to produce and emcee large cooking events in North America and around the world. He has hosted Harbourfront Centre’s Iron Chef competitions for the past eight years and is regularly in demand for food event consulting, speaking engagements, advisory councils for college food programs, recipe and menu development and PR work.
One of Christian’s greatest passions is food education. He teaches hundreds of cooking classes throughout Ontario and is involved in children’s programming with regards to agriculture and food. Christian’s latest venture is The Blue Mountain Culinary Cottage in the mountains of Collingwood.
Christian is currently the cohost of daytime on RogersTV, chef, emcee, food consultant, caterer/event planner and food entertainer. And in his spare time, Christian, the “Rock and Roll Chef”, is a bassist with the bands, Alpha Dawgs and Skinless Chicken.