We can all agree that Toronto is one of the world’s great multicultural mosaics, a foodie-friendly wonderland where it’s possible to have a global dining experience in the span of a short streetcar ride. Harnessing that incredible culinary diversity and knowledge and using it to create some truly memorable plates is the goal of many of Toronto’s great chefs—Amancio dos Santos has managed to do exactly that.
And we’re especially thrilled that he’ll be bringing the most exciting aspects of Toronto’s international cuisine with him every time he steps into our kitchen. As our new Executive Chef, he’ll be infusing every dish that we serve here at Kiss the Cook Catering with his many cultural influences and incredible expertise. He has already elevated everything from our Festive Turkey Feast to our catered barbecue cookouts and developed an outstanding menu for our delicious new take-home meals.
“Living in Toronto, there are so many cultural influences that keep me excited,” Chef Amancio says. “It’s always good to borrow and adapt from different cuisines when living here and making dishes your own, but I’m always careful to respect the original styles of these cultures. I don’t appreciate people calling food ‘authentic’ when the dishes don’t mean anything to them.”
On his cooking style, he adds: “I’m partial to making a lot of food for the technical aspect, such as pastas, risottos and Thai curries. There are so many nuances to preparing these dishes well, and you don’t fully understand that until you practice making them.”
Originally from India’s Goa state, Chef Amancio moved to Toronto from Dubai in 2004, to attend the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College. Once there, he enrolled in the renowned school’s Italian cuisine program, learning the fine art of pasta and biscotti making, the intricacies of preparing the perfect sauce and the plethora of important techniques that make traditional Italian cuisine so challenging to do well.
The naturally-curious chef began exploring the many flavours of his adopted city, developing an appreciation for, among others, French cuisine—“It’s a building block in the kitchen”—embracing Toronto’s large Portuguese community and exploring that culture’s colonial influence on the fare of his native Goa, while also wandering neighbourhoods such as Toronto’s Koreatown to experience the many flavours that were mostly absent from the menu while he was growing up in the Middle East.
With his training complete, Chef Amancio quickly made his mark on Toronto’s restaurant scene with stints at fine dining establishments such as the Royal Ontario Museum’s C5 restaurant and Perigee in the Distillery District. That led to positions at Black Hoof Inc.’s Raw Bar and Hoof Café, before taking on a sous chef position at Drake 150, where he worked his culinary magic for more than eight years under the influence of one of Toronto’s most renowned chefs, Ted Corrado, who is also well known for his roles as a culinary mentor and teacher.
Now 34, Chef Amancio counts gastronomic celebs Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver as key role models in the kitchen, along with his long-time collaborator, Toronto restaurant scene veteran Jonathan Pong.
After taking some time off to travel and start a new venture, Tropic Thunders Hot Sauces and curry pastes, Chef Amancio was introduced to Kiss the Cook by Corrado who believed that the timing for both parties was perfectly aligned. With Chef Ted’s trusted and glowing recommendation in hand, there was no need for a formal interview. Rather, Chef Amancio and I had a meeting of the minds and quickly came to realize that our philosophies on food, vision for the future of our company and professional goals were parallel. I felt eager to hand over the keys to our kitchen and it has proven to be the best decision.
Put simply, Chef Amancio has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything food-related, as well as a leadership style that quickly changed our kitchen culture by empowering our cooks to learn and grow every day. He takes great pride in cultivating and nurturing a positive and healthy kitchen environment, which is ideal, because we strive to be an industry employer of choice. From a management standpoint, his organizational skills and ability to handle large-scale catering makes complex projects seem effortless. Largely due to his determination to deliver every dish to the highest standards of food quality, presentation and attention to detail, the feedback from our clients has been remarkable.
And apart from his serious technical chops, he’s an all-around great guy!
Right now I think we can distinguish ourselves by making comforting food, because that’s what the world needs,” Chef Amancio says of his vision for Kiss the Cook. “We can get people enjoying favourites like our amazing pot pies, roast chicken, slow simmered sauces, epic Buddha bowls and more.”
“I think Kiss the Cook can move to the next level with an invisible touch,” he adds. “It’s all about the small touches that create a truly unforgettable experience.”
In his view, evolving the Kiss the Cook brand means showcasing the classic dishes that have become our signature over more than a decade in business, while focusing on the key service and presentation details that make everything from our take-home dining packages to our catered weddings and corporate events, so exciting.
Take the recent addition of his beef bourguignon, which our clients have called ‘life changing.’ It’s not surprising that he’s made such an impact in such a short time.
When Ted Corrado first introduced us, he said “Amancio cooks from the soul.” He was right—and there couldn’t have been a better fit for Kiss the Cook than a chef who makes food with such love and care.
Fia Pagnello, CEO
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