In a time when traveling to our favourite food destinations to explore the dynamic spectrum of Canadian culinary culture has become somewhat limited, being able to journey vicariously alongside Food Network Canada host John Catucci while he checks off his Big Food Bucket List has been a fun escape a la television.
Before the debut of series' second season, we spoke to Catucci about the uniqueness of Canada's culinary landscape, his hopes for future seasons, and the importance of supporting local restaurants. Since then, Catucci and the Big Food Bucket List have shone a light on some of the country’s best and most buzzworthy dining destinations, spanning from Vancouver Island to Lunenburg, N.S. with several succulent stops in between.
As someone who’s eaten his way across the country, the charismatic host has developed a broad perspective over the years on what sets Canada’s food and beverage scene apart from the rest of the world.
With six episodes left to air in the sophomore season of Big Food Bucket List, we caught up with Catucci to find out which season 2 stops have stood out the most.
We visited a restaurant in Victoria on the show called The Ruby and they did a duck confit on waffles. So instead of chicken and waffles it was duck confit with waffles and it was just spectacular. Rich and decadent on fluffy waffles with maple syrup. Anything duck confit, I’m into it, but I’ve never had it in breakfast form. So I was very happy with that.
Descendant Detroit Style Pizza in Toronto makes one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. They do a "Truff-Ghi" pizza that has a whole bunch of cremini mushrooms with this truffle cream and a bunch of cheese. I love Detroit-style pizza. You could eat the whole thing by yourself quite easily, but they cut it into these perfect little squares that you can share, but you might not necessarily want to share it.
It’s this combination of the mushrooms and the truffle sauce and the lemon zest that they put onto it at the end that just adds this brightness. Sometimes truffle can just be a little overpowering at times but when they add that lemon zest it just kind of brightens up the whole dish. It’s so delicious.
The Beach Pea Kitchen and Bar in Lunenburg, N.S. did these scallops that were just so perfectly seared and there’s nothing like getting fresh scallops that were just brought in on a boat that day.
Toronto is lucky. We can get incredible seafood here flown in the day after its caught, but to get something that’s just come off of a boat and served to you within hours of being caught is pretty magical.
And to eat it in Lunenburg as well, which is this beautiful little fishing town with so much history, it just feels like you’ve been transported to another time.
There’s a great place in Montreal called Agrikol. It’s a Haitian restaurant with such a cool vibe. It doesn’t feel like anything you’ve ever experienced; you walk in it’s got a great vibe, great cocktails, and amazing food.
They have this pork shoulder dish called a griot and it’s like a classic Haitian dish. It’s pork shoulder and it’s marinated and simmered for hours and then they fry it up to a crisp. It’s served with these pickled vegetables as well, which is a big thing in Haitian cuisine. You get this crunchy, savoury pork shoulder with these pickled vegetables. That combination together is just magical.
It was the first time I’d ever had Haitian cuisine and I was so into it. It was so good.