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Five Minutes with Adrian Forte

adrian forte

On Wednesday, August 26th, the recently re-opened Café Boulud in the Four Seasons Hotel hosts guest chef Adrian Forte for a collaboration dinner with CDC Nicholas Trosien.

In support of the local BIPOC community, the proceeds will be directed to Olympia’s Gift, a Toronto-based charity that assists post-secondary business students of African descent. For Jamaican-born Forte, the evening is also poignant because chef Daniel Boulud was a guest judge during his own recent run (to a 3rd place finish) on Top Chef Canada.“The main takeaway,” Forte revealed of Boulud’s comments on his cooking in that episode, “was perfecting the appropriate usage of heat in my cooking.” Ever since,  Forte has been working on “perfecting balance while working with capsicum.”

This Wednesday you can experience the results. Forte’s four-course collaboration with chef Trosien hangs exuberantly summery Afro-Caribbean flavours on a solid frame of French technique.  And if you can’t get a ticket, go to Chef Forte’s Instagram account for his Jerk Chicken Coq au Vin recipe.

Five Minutes with Adrian Forte:

Did you ever think since graduating from George Brown you’d end up in the top 3 of Top Chef Canada?

It never crossed my mind. My main focus has always been promoting multi-ethnic Afro Caribbean Cuisine

If you could summarize your experience at George Brown in three words; what would they be?

Laborious, gratifying and bewildering

What was the first thing you did after receiving a call to audition for TC?

I went straight to my home kitchen and started to work on the recipe for my audition dish.

Who was the first person you told?

My girlfriend.

How did it feel to compete against primarily white competitors?

Indifferent. The colour of their skin wasn’t going to make an impact in the competition. At the end of the day, flavour is king.

Why do you think there are so few black faces in the culinary community?

Because of the lack of representation, people need to see people that look like them doing things they never thought they could. That’s the main reason why I became a top chef contestant, I wanted to inspire the younger BIPOC generation to aspire to be more than just athletes, musicians and entertainers.

Did you feel that you had to ‘represent’ for black people in the industry? If so, did that add on to the pressure of the competition?

For sure, this was the first time someone from the black community was on Top Chef, so I had to make sure I represented properly. Didn’t feed in to any stereotypes, but more importantly, I had to do well. There was definitely added pressure, but I tend to thrive when I know what is at stake.

What do you think “post-covid” dining will be like?

A lot of ghost restaurants and socially awkward outings. I can’t get behind someone serving me with a mask, glove and visor on. It will feel too “medical” and won’t have the same effect it once did.

Has your restaurant had any setbacks with the ongoing pandemic?

Don’t own or operate any restaurants. I work as a chef consultant and culinary producer. Currently business has picked up as a lot of owners and hospitality groups are trying to pivot to solutions that will generate revenue, and that’s our speciality at chef du jour creating solutions.

We both know that the culinary community is exempt from racism and many other isims- how do you think Chefs can bring awareness to their ensure black people (and of course other minorities) feel included from prep cooks to executive chefs?

Anti-Black racism workshops should be mandatory in every facet of every industry, not just hospitality. Employers should make it a prerequisite for all job applicants. WHMIS, Sexual Harassment in the workplace and Anti Racism.

Ebeni Skinner

Ebeni Skinner graduated from the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown in 2016–and has since worked in kitchens from PEI to BC. Currently, she is a chef at Montreal’s Le Butterblume (reopening this September). One day hopes to return to her native Nova Scotia to open a self-sustaining farm-to-table B&B with its very own oyster beds. Adrian Forte is one of her culinary heroes.