Sometimes even a bad break can deliver life-changing good luck. That was the case for young Chris Canham when he broke his foot in the summer of 1985. With mobility limited, he took his first job at a restaurant in his native St. Catharine’s, Ont., and watched cooks ply their trade. When a few of them called in sick one night to attend a concert, he begged the owner for a shot to work the line. It was the very humble first step in a long and illustrious culinary journey.
He would go on to work in Asia and Europe, and to compete at the Culinary World Cup and Culinary Olympics—winning multiple medals—between 2000 and 2016. Extensive travel and competition took him from France and Italy to Germany, Austria and Belgium before being asked to cook for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg—a high honour in the gastronomic world. Completing culinary programs and opening fine dining restaurants in India added a new international dimension to his resume.
We’re thrilled that Chris is bringing his incredible expertise to our kitchen as Kiss the Cook Catering’s Executive Chef. We’ve known Chef Chris for many years and had long admired his approach. In reality, we thought it was only a matter of time before we’d work together and he’d have the opportunity to take our experience to the next level. Indeed, his work ethic and dedication to producing incredible food in a positive work environment make him a wonderful fit for Kiss the Cook.
“I came up when nouvelle cuisine was a thing and 50-ingredient dishes were a nightmare to prepare,” he recalls. “I’ve always enjoyed preparing good, creative comfort food and I think that fits in well with Kiss the Cook’s unique brand.
“I really love cooking for family, friends and guests and seeing them smile when they taste my food. That’s what drives me to this day.”
That passion for time spent in the kitchen began in his childhood.
“I lived in a diverse area growing up and food played a big part in my life being around Italian, Polish and Ukrainian families who would have street parties where everyone would bring a dish. Once I started cooking it came naturally to me; It wasn’t work.”
After the early stage of his culinary career, Chef Chris eventually moved into the hotel industry and high-end restaurants. His first head chef was a former German tank commander during the Second World War. Needless to say, it was a strictly-run kitchen where Chef Chris learned the merits of discipline, efficiency and traditional basic cooking techniques—from preparing roux to tasty stocks—that formed the foundation of his extensive knowledge base.
“What I learned from working with that chef is there is more than one way to prepare great food,” he recalls. “I tried to take the best from all the older guys I worked under and move their techniques forward.”
He would go on to develop an appreciation for food history, while experimenting with molecular and other complex techniques. But still, a passion for preparing flavourful, simple, fresh food from high quality ingredients remained his north star in the kitchen.
Chef Chris would serve as the Executive Chef at Toronto’s Westin Prince Hotel (later the Pan-Pacific Toronto), managing several on-site restaurants with about 1,000 meals being served at any given time and a team of 80 staff under his leadership. The results were clear, with the hotel quickly moving up the Westin chain’s rankings in terms of client satisfaction, to an impressive 22nd from a lowly 141st place before he arrived.
He’s bringing those winning processes and philosophies to Kiss the Cook as he puts his own unique spin on our menu.
“I’ve known Fia for many years and I’ve always admired the quality and flavour coming out of her kitchen,” he says. “I want to continue to blow people’s minds by treating our clients like family and cooking great food.”
Expect an ever-changing slate of Chef Chris’ signature recipes to find their way onto our menu in the months ahead. “I do an espresso braised beef short rib that’s pretty special,” he offers. “It’s definitely the kind of dinner that will make you want to kiss the cook.”
Like so many of his delectable creations, it’s one we can’t wait for you to try.
Chris Atchison, Media
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