Taking the title of Top Chef Canada is an incredible achievement in and of itself, but rising to the top among one of the most talented collections of chefs in the competition’s history–including her husband Josh–while being critiqued by the chef you once apprenticed under has to make the victory for Toronto chef Erica Karbelnik extra special.
With a fearless affinity for showcasing elevated interpretations of her favourite Moroccan and Israeli-inspired dishes throughout Season 9, Karbelnik not only succeeded in dazzling her former ONE Restaurant boss Mark McEwan, she managed to impress Canadian viewers from coast-to-coast.
We recently had a chance to catch up with the passionate executive chef of Terrace Restaurant at Elmwood Spa, to find out where the Top Chef Canada champion likes to go for food and drink when she’s not cooking up incredible culinary creations of her own.
I am not a big breakfast person, but I’m a big fan of brunch! I like to sleep in!
My go-to spot for breakfast or brunch is Simit & Chai on King Street in Toronto. They are a cute little Turkish bakery that serves up amazing Turkish pastries and everything is made in-house and from scratch.
My go-tos there are always their delicious Shakshuka with a traditional Simit bagel (not like other bagels—it’s dipped in molasses and rolled in sesame seeds), Turkish coffee, and as many pastries as I can handle.
Growing up in Thornhill, naturally there are only two places I can think of and I’ve been going to them my whole life. Generations of my family have gone to these places and I will continue to go with my kids.
Kiva's Bakery at Bathurst and Steeles. Their matzo ball soup is like getting a big hug from your grandmother. It’s filled with so much love, and you can taste it.
And United Bakers at Bathurst and Lawrence. Standing since 1912, I can’t begin to explain how much I love their pea soup. And of course, a lox and cream cheese spread with all the fixings.
This was a hard one to choose with all the great restaurants in Toronto. But if I had to choose only one, it has to be Café Cancan.
You not only get an amazing dining experience here, but the second you enter, you are immediately transported to Paris, France. The ambiance, the feel of the restaurant, the staff, and the food are absolutely amazing here. The restaurant is plastered in pink and blue with flamingos all around. It’s honestly adorable.
The food is something you just have to go and try. Fresh oysters, beef tartar, bone marrow, foie gras, and their delicious braised meats are more than a girl could ask for. I could also put them in the brunch category for a classic French omelette, truffled eggs, and perfect croissants.
I am not a drinker...anymore. I am now sober and work every day to keep it that way. So, you can usually find me on my couch cuddled up with a nice cup of tea.
If I had to name some local places for great drinks and great company, the old me would be found at Hemingway’s in Yorkville or Yonge Street Warehouse at Yonge and Dundas.