Meet Stratford’s #NextGen Chefs

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Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto. Ryan Donovan of Richmond Station. Mark Cutrara, formerly of Bar Hop and Cowbell. Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station. Aaron Linley of Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill. Cory Vitiello of FLOCK Rotisserie + Greens.

These top Toronto chefs and restaurateurs above share a common trait - they’re all graduates of Stratford Chefs School, a not-for-profit career college “focused on the innovative, hands-on training of high quality, aspiring chefs and culinary entrepreneurs.”

Yesterday, the Stratford Tourism Alliance held an invite-only pop-up at the home of two alumni - Richmond Station - to introduce Stratford’s next generation of chefs and chef school alumni: Jamie Crosby of The Prune, Meaghan Evely and Vincent Stacey of Pazzo Taverna & Pizzeria, and Ryan O’Donnell of Mercer Kitchen + Beer Hall.

The afternoon soiree featured delectable samples including Pepperonata Stuffed Plin with parsley and parmesan, Marinated Mussel with wild leeks, lovage and ginger, and Maple Tartlette  boasting brown butter, Islay scotch whisky, and charcoal cream, and libations from Junction 56 Distillery and Black Swan Brewing Co. It’s no wonder Stratford is such a culinary destination with a burgeoning local craft brews and spirits scene.

Did you know that SCS offers year-round cooking classes in their state-of-the-art school that are open to the public? Calling all home cooks and food loversL check out Open Kitchen’s course outline and register for one of their fabulous classes, including Best Brunch, Flavours of Quebec, The Art of the Burger, Southern BBQ, Big Batch Cooking, Dim Sum, Fermentation: Bubbly Beverages, Knife Skills, Cooking with Cannabis, and Pressure Cookers & Instant Pots, for starters.

The occasion also marked the unveiling of the 25th edition of the Stratford Culinary Guide - a staple for restaurants, pubs, cafés, shops and producers in Stratford (also available in hard copy at the Stratford Tourism office, and SCS’s new book Farm to Table: Celebrating Stratford Chefs School Alumni, Recipes & Perth County Producers by Andrew Coppolino.

To learn more about current featured chefs, follow the twelve-week blog series, Stratford’s #nextgen Chefs.

Who knows? They may end up running one of Toronto’s best restaurants.