Many start a new year with a list of health proclamations about eating-healthy-this and not eating that. And while we at The Chef & The Dish always encourage mindful eating, we think it’s much more fun to challenge your palette with new and interesting things, pushing the boundaries of flavour and tasting foods you’ve never even heard of (it's why we love cooking classes!).
1. Cook Over an Open Fire
This year, make something over an open fire (not just a hotdog or s'mores). Maybe it’s Paella which is common in Spain, or perhaps try your hand at naan bread!
2. Eat Some Bugs (or Maybe Just More Legumes)
We challenge you to eat an insect...or at least look for other sources of protein. Make Meatless Monday occasionally stretch to Tuesday, too.
3. Master Your Signature Dessert
Maybe you’ll find your inner baker, or perhaps you'll want to master an impressive no-bake dessert like Panna Cotta. Regardless, decide on a dessert you want as your personal signature - and master it.
4. Scour the Spice Market
Whether its Za’atar, Turmeric, or Togarashi - we challenge you to visit a market or grocery store and buy a spice you’ve never used before. Bring it home and then find an authentic dish to make. We think your mouth will be very happy. Check out our Spice Advice for some tips!
5. Find Your Perfect Burger
Some want cheese, others want it with mayo, mustard, and extra pickles. Some want grilled onions, others want it stuffed with bleu cheese and topped with bacon. We never judge, this one is all about you. Make it your quest to find your perfect burger.
6. Channel Your Inner Home Chef
Find your inner home chef. Create a dish that is your 'home meal' - one that is your staple, what you're known for, one that you've experimented with, adjusted, perfected, and everyone seems to love. You can do it!
7. Make Old Fashioned Candy
There's something fantastically whimsical about old fashioned candy. Experiment with old school treats like peppermints and toffee - the kids will love you!
8. Up Your Cocktail Game
Maybe it's with your favourite spirit or a liqueur you've always been curious about - try your hand at a new cocktail and invite the friends over for some serious sampling.
9. Shuck an Oyster
Invite over friends for a dinner party, lay out six oysters for each person, and watch everyone be amazed by your skills. You can do it. Need some help? Check out our Oysters 101 Guide.
10. Go Beyond Sushi
Whether it’s seaweed snacks, Onigiri, Japanese pickles, or Okonomiyaki - go beyond sushi and dive into more traditional and authentic dishes. Chef Yoshimi Daido, culinary instructor in Tokyo will help guide the way. Go on and eat a Japanese dish that you can’t pronounce.
11. Devour Weird Looking Fruit
Go to the grocery store and pick out the weirdest looking fruit you can find, go home, eat it and then learn all about it.
12. Eat Cereal for Dinner
Sometimes life gets super busy, so why not have fun with life's crazy times? During your busy season, invite over the friends and ask everyone to bring their favourite cereal - you supply the milk (extra points for 'special milk' spiked with some bourbon!). Snuggle up with blankets on the couch, hover over your bowls and maybe even throw on some cartoons in the background.
13. Explore New Kinds of Fermentation
Fermented foods like Sauerkraut, Kimchee, Kombucha... are proven to be very healthy and known to provide important nutrients, recalibrate your immune system and add good bacteria to help aid in digestion.
14. Appreciate Anchovies
We can understand why anchovies are so alienating. They can be fishy, they're rarely used properly (in North America), and we guess they can look a little weird but anchovies add wonderful depth to meals. If you want a great recipe, check out the traditional Peperonata recipe from Chef Daniela.
15. Be Mindful and Celebrate Simple
One of our favourite recipes is Simple Roasted Tomatoes. Cover them with olive oil, a liberal amount of salt and pepper, and then let them roast in the oven until nice and caramelized. Not only does it celebrate the ingredient, but it let's the tomatoes find their inner awesomeness with slow roasting. Find your favourite one-ingredient dish that you transform into something incredible.
16. Discover a New Cuisine
If you’ve never tried Jamaican, this is the year to seek out Jerk Chicken. Filipino is all the rage right now, try to find some local Lechon. Never got passed Butter Chicken at the local Indian hotspot? You’re totally missing out. Try Vindaloo or Rogan Josh. Thai will change your life, go ahead - order it spicy.
Related: Thai Cooking Classes
17. Eat Your Way Through Italy (at Home)
Experience the different ingredients and flavour profiles in Calabria compared to Liguria. Our regional Italian cooking classes will help you find an even deeper appreciation for Italian cuisine.
18. Become a Regular
No place fancy, not a diner by a celebrity chef, just a good old fashion local haunt where you have your favourite stool and everyone knows you when you come in.
19. Boil A Lobster
Lobster requires nothing but butter to be delicious, but even experienced cooks find lobster a challenge. Any gourmet should know how to boil and prep lobster and have a couple of good standby recipes for those special occasions. In a matter of minutes you can have a epic meal your friends will rave about. We can help you with our Lobster Cooking Class.
20. Serve Your Red Wine Cold
Whaaaa?!?! says (almost) every wine snob out there. Yes, this is part of Culinary Checklist. According to Bloomberg, several red wine styles including Beaujolais and Grenache actually taste better when chilled. It’s said to bring out the brightness. Rather than listening to what you’re supposed to do, drink your wine the way you like it best. It’s that simple.
21. Travel Just for Food
Now of course, if you can hop a plane to South Korea to experience authentic Bulgogi - amazing, but this culinary checklist doesn't require you travel so far. Maybe there's a restaurant an hour and a half away from where you live that has fantastic burgers. Make the trip! It'll be worth it.
22. Buy a Truffle
Black Truffles are one of the world's most rich and luxurious delicacies. The intense aroma, earthiness - with a slight garlickiness, butteriness - but not really... the flavour of a freshly grated truffle is truly an experience. In the Umbria region of Italy, where they're harvested - pasta topped with freshly grated truffles is a norm. Why can't you be so lucky?! Splurge on a real truffle.
23. Order Table Side Service
Whether its fresh mozzarella or guacamole made right at your table - seek out table side service, and watch the magic happen!
24. Preserve Anything
Save money, stock your pantry, eat fresh - what other reasons do you need? Peaches and Sun-dried Tomatoes, here we come.
25. Eat at a Restaurant With a View
If you can secure a seat at the restaurant on the top floor of the CN Tower, you'll be dining in one of the world's tallest structures admiring a sprawling view of downtown Toronto. Restaurants on the beach are so calming. Restaurants outside world monuments like the Taj Mahal - total bucket list. Find a restaurant with a truly stunning view and eat in near silence.
Japanese Cooking Classes
Okonomiyaki, a savoury Pancake sometimes called Japanese pizza is taking the world by storm. Skype Chef Yoshimi, who's based in Tokyo, into your home for a private cooking class. Together you'll cook a selection of traditional Japanese dishes.
Okonomiyaki Cooking Class >
Italian Dessert Cooking Class
Master your signature dessert this year - and make it Italian! Learn how to make Tiramisu, Panna Cotta, and Chocolate Ricotta Cake with the help of Daniela, owner of Daniela's Cooking School in Rome. Skype her into your home for a personal and private cooking class!
Italian Dessert Cooking Class >