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Backyard Barbecue, Chef Legends Edition

Only the pig was harmed during this annual gathering of Toronto chefs.

WATCHING THE SUCKLING PIG SPIN seductively on the rotisserie, its skin already bronzed and crisped, flesh dribbling juices as it turns above a row of foil-wrapped potatoes nestled on the grill beneath, it’s hard to avoid thinking the obvious: Not all backyard barbecues are created equal. But then, consider the guest list, and the home.

We’re at chef Marc Thuet’s house, near Yonge and Davisville, and his chef, Dragan Marcovic, is manning the rotisserie. The guest of honour is Franco Prevedello, who, in the ’80s and ’90s, opened most of the Toronto restaurants that are still worth remembering. To name a few — Biffi, Pronto, Splendido and Centro, where Thuet was his chef, originally alongside Michael Bonacini (Oliver & Bonacini), who is also here tonight. As is Jimmy Molloy, who, before becoming a leading Toronto real estate agent, was a manager at Centro. Joey Bersani, who opened Bersani & Carlevale with the late Michael Carlevale
— another Prevedello alumnus — is here, too.
The summer barbecue is an annual event, the cast usually a little bigger. Soma founder and former Centro pastry chef David Castellan could not make it this year, as he was traveling overseas. Mark McEwan, who worked for Prevedello at Pronto before launching North 44, had an unchangeable scheduling conflict. And Centro alumnus David Lee has decamped from Toronto to oversee, from Florida, Planta’s expansion in the U.S.

But no matter. Six industry legends (and one honorary, well-seasoned food writer) is enough for a party. So, while the pig rests, we settle in for Champagne appetizers around the backyard table and talk old times, and a little scurrilous gossip, before moving indoors to the dining room for the main event. And yes, there were leftovers.

Photography by Ashley van der Laan

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