Toronto is a city for serious foodies. Our thriving multicultural community has access to seemingly endless authentic regional restaurants and fusion restaurants located across the city. But which ones are worth the trip? Follow these Toronto food critics to find out. These writers are our picks for the top 10 food critics in Toronto—they know good food.
1. James Chatto
James Chatto is an award-winning food and wine writer, food and wine critic and award-winning author of several books. He has written for most major Canadian publications and many others abroad in England and Europe. Chatto was born and studied in England but moved to Toronto in 1987 where he began his food writing career working with Toronto Life magazine. He had a popular monthly column in Toronto Life until 2010. James is currently a creative consultant and Senior Editor for the LCBO's Food and Wine magazine. Throughout his career, Chatto has received notable awards for his work and many nominations. His third book, The Man Who Ate Toronto, Memoirs of a Restaurant Lover (1998), won awards from Heritage Toronto and Cuisine Canada. A Matter of Taste (2004), Chatto's fifth book, is a national best seller, was nominated for a James Beard award and won a Cordon d'Or award and Cuisine Canada's Gold Award for best cookbook of the year. Chatto is known for his insider's approach to food reviews. He befriends and talks in depth with the chefs he encounters, garnering a detailed understanding of their food and passion, and communicates it eloquently to potential diners through his writing. This is not at all the approach of the standard incognito food critique. Chatto's various works are must reads.
Find James on Social Media: Facebook, Twitter
Read samples of his work:
• Pearl Diver
• Brunch at Parts & Labour
2. Rita DeMontis
Rita DeMontis is an award-winning writer. She has worked with the Toronto Sun for more than 36 years and is currently the Sun's Lifestyle and Food Editor as well as National Food Editor for the Sun Media chain. She has appeared on several television stations and shows including City TV'S Breakfast Television, Global TV, CTV Canada AM, CH-TV, OMNI, Telelatino, CityLine, Food Network and Restaurant Makeover. Rita formerly held a weekend radio spot on Newstalk 1010, and currently has a radio show, Dishing with DeMontis, on Sirius XM Canada Talks, Ch.167. In terms of television, DeMontis once hosted an 80-episode national cooking show called Cuchina etc. She has worked as a freelancer for national magazines such as Canadian Living and Partners. She periodically lectures for York University as well as several marketing associations. She also writes a periodic blog on Canoe.ca. She was voted the most popular columnist with the Toronto Sun in 2006. When asked why she loves to write about food, Rita had this to say:
"Food is the great equalizer in our lives. Sustenance is based on sustainability. To sustain someone is to bring peace. It's hard to argue with anyone on a full stomach."
After reading an article by DeMontis, it's easy to understand her mass appeal. Her writing is upbeat, to the point, informative and lacks pretension.
Find Rita in magazines: Toronto Sun News, Canoe.ca
Read samples of her work:
• March is all about healthy eating
• BlossomPure Joy
3. Ivy Knight
Ivy Knight. Photo by Rick O'Brien.
Ivy Knight is a popular food writer who contributes to several publications including Vice, Toronto Star, Fashion, Food & Drink, Food & Wine, The Globe and Mail and Toronto Life. She has published two books through HarperCollins—The Everyday Squash Cook and JK: The Jamie Kennedy Cookbook. Knight is currently Editor in Chief and a key contributor to SwallowDaily.com. Knight's writing offers a unique perspective because of her 10 years of experience as a professional chef. Her writing is very descriptive—you can almost taste what she writes about—and it flows with ease. She regularly reviews great Toronto restaurants.
Knight has had the pleasure of interviewing some of the world's finest chefs, including Rene Redzepi, Martin Picard, Jacques Pepin, Daniel Humm, Thomas Keller, Magnus Nilsson, David Kinch, Vikram Vij, Joe Beef's Dave McMillan and Frederic Morin, Fergus Henderson, Chris Cosentino and Anthony Bourdain as well as food personalities Gail Simmons, Ruth Reichl, Laura Calder, Adam Platt, Kevin Brauch and Calvin Trillin.
Photo by Timothy Musho from SwallowDaily.
When asked why she pursued her career in food writing, Knight replied:
"You asked why I do what I do - I like being my own boss and making my own hours, I love not waking to an alarm clock every day and that my work means I'm constantly immersed in the culture of kitchens and cooks, bakers and winemakers. Let other writers cover politics and sports, I'll take the food beat any day."
Find Ivy on Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Read samples of her work:
• The Best Thai Street Food In Toronto
• On the Street: People's Eatery, Rancho Relaxo & Loka Snacks
4. Jennifer Bain
Saucy Lady columnist and Toronto Star Food Editor Jennifer Bain is a must follow in the food world. This dynamo runs the Toronto Star test kitchen and writes about food and drink with a focus on farmers and food culture. Jennifer has published two print books, Buffalo Girl Cooks Bison and Toronto Star Cookbook: More Than 150 Diverse and Delicious Recipes Celebrating Ontario, and an ebook, The Best of the Holiday Cookie Calendar. When asked why she writes about food, Jennifer said:
"It sounds cliché now, but I started writing about food in 1999 so I could travel the world through all of the multicultural food and diverse neighbourhoods that we have here in the GTA. Sixteen years later, I'm still exploring and I can't imagine a job/life that doesn't involve thinking about food 24/7."
Jennifer's writing is a delightful mix of food porn and food anthropology. Her keen interest in different cultures and their food is apparent, as is her attention to detail. She effortlessly conveys the history and traditions of the foods she enjoys in the exotic restaurants she frequents in our multicultural city. If you are interested in food history and food culture, her column in the Toronto Star is a must read. Best of all, her articles often feature recipes from the chefs she encounters.
Read samples of her work:
5. Corey Mintz
Corey Mintz is a Toronto Star food columnist. His popular column FED, by Corey Mintz appears weekly in the major newspaper.
The FED series is a cross between dinner party and interview. Mintz hosts a weekly recipe video while cooking for his guests in his home. He has been known to host everyone from politicians to scientists to teachers, etc. His videos focus on recipe preparation and are accompanied by an article summarizing Mintz's dinner experience/interview with his special guest(s) of the week. Mintz finishes each article with a written recipe from the video.
Photo from porkosity.blogspot.com
Mintz is a must read and must watch. His articles are witty and he makes a lot of amusing jokes in his recipe videos. Due to his intriguing choices of dinner guests, Mintz's articles often intertwine his food passion with current events and cultural interests. For example, recent interviews discussed everything from opera singing to jury duty. His recipes are easy to follow, so if you like adventurous yet easy cooking, tune in next week. Mintz had this to say about his career:
"I cooked for about six years before turning to my first love, writing. Now I get to do both as a food columnist for the Toronto Star. I'm always looking to tell great stories about how food and people intersect, while trying not to be a spokesperson for chefs."
Find Corey on Social media: Twitter
Find Corey also at: TheStar.com.
Read samples of his work:
• A farewell family feast, Djibouti style
• Laughter, cheese and other keys to happiness
6. Gizelle Lau
Gizelle Lau is a freelance writer and photographer based in Toronto, specializing in food and travel. She is also a digital marketing, content and social media professional. Gizelle has contributed to a plethora of big name magazines like Toronto Life, Forbes Travel Guide, Where Essential Toronto, Eater & Eater, Post City, Centurion, Huffington Post Canada and many more major publications.
Bar Tartine by Gizelle Lau
Gizelle writes intriguing restaurant reviews and interviews celebrity chefs (like superstar gastronomy chef Ferran Adria) with ease. Her interviews are quite interesting as she asks probing and intriguing questions. All of Gizelle's articles manage to extract and feature the uniqueness of the places she dines in, making them a great read. Gizelle also has a personal photo blog which further documents the drool-worthy food she eats while out and about in Toronto and abroad.
Find Gizelle on Social Media: Twitter
Read samples of her work:
• Toronto's 5 Best Spots With A View
• First Look: Soos, a modern Malaysian restaurant on the Ossington strip
• 20 Things To Eat in Toronto
7. Andrea Chiu
Social media guru for BMO by day, foodie and blogger by night, Andrea Chiu is a great writer. Andrea is a true storyteller. Be sure to visit her blog Chiu On This for a mix of life and food stories.
"My favourite stories are told through a culinary lens. It doesn't matter if it's Julia Child, Eddie Huang or a distant relative, I'm most interested in learning about them through what they cook, eat and drink," says Chiu.
Her writing style is upbeat and enthusiastic, which is always a pleasure to read. Andrea writes about the food she enjoys out in Toronto, as well as the food she creates at home. She lets you into her personal life through her blog, which is always endearing, though still maintains some boundaries like referring to her partner as H and not fully naming the other people she encounters.
Andrea has a very popular twitter account where she shares even more Toronto food stories to her 26K+ followers.
Find Andrea on social media: Twitter
Read some of her writing:
• A Cause for Oysters
• A weekend in food (a.k.a. my attempt at the Grub Street diet)
8. Alexa Clark
If you are unfamiliar with CheapEats, they are city-wide food guides for affordable yet delicious restaurants. Guides are available for Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver.Alexa is Founder and Editor in Chief of CheapEats Restaurant Guides, co-Founder of HoHoTO ("the party twitter built"—a holiday party for the tech, marketing, startup and social media community in Toronto to raise funds for Daily Bread Food Bank) and Founder and Host of the Secret Pickle Supper Club, one of the first Toronto underground supper clubs that's leading the trend in theme-based experience dining events in unique and unconventional locations. In 2014, Alexa was appointed Co-Chair of Second Harvest's Toronto Taste—Toronto's premier gourmet fundraiser.
Alexa is a well known food and technology advocate and pioneer in many ways. She has been featured on ABC, CBC, CityTV, The Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen and in many other local and national media outlets. As a leader in and early adopter of social media, Alexa was listed as one of 20 Leading Women in Social Media on Media Style in 2009.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken by Alexa Clark
Alexa is also a blogger, and her blog Unsweetened just celebrated its 11th birthday. The blog features a lot of food and drink content, restaurant reviews and info on Alexa, her pursuits, passions and day-to-day life. When asked about why and how she started writing about food and why she continues, Alexa had this to say:
"I got into the food industry very young working alongside my father, who is a professional Cook, on our organic farm and in a series of restaurants growing up. We spent a lot of time talking food, fishing for trout and foraging for wild food. My food writing began with me sharing these experiences, and evolved into discussing, evaluating and critiquing what was on my plate, how it got there, and the people involved along the way. I continue to write about food because of my deep fascination with the hows and whys of what is grown and produced; how people interact and engage with the food that is so much a part of their daily lives; and in the end the fragrances, textures and flavours."
Find Alexa on Social Media: Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Google+.
9. David Ort
David Ort is a freelance writer and food photographer in Toronto. He is author of The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, a collection of his own recipes featuring Canadian craft beers.Ort contributes both written and visual content to many publications including Post City magazine, Where Toronto, TorontoLife.com, and Food Bloggers of Canada. For Post City, David contributes many food articles and interviews. He writes about local restaurants and chefs, as well as local writers.
"I started out with a blog called Food With Legs. As with most websites of its kind, the only people that read it in the beginning were family members and a few patient friends [...] Eventually, I managed to convince a few editors to pay me to write for their publications [...] that list has grown to the point where I've (almost) lost track of all the articles I've written in different places."
David's articles are often brief but very informative. He gets right to the point of his subject matter—generally why his subject is unique or special. His food photography could be described similarly—beautiful, clean and in-focus.
David also has a blog where he writes about food and, not surprisingly, craft beer. He is very knowledgeable about both and his writing style is down-to-earth, so give his blog a read.
Find David on Social Media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest
Read a sample of his work:
• First Look: Boston's Wahlburger, coming Nov. 15, is more than a family affair
10. Lisa Jackson
Lisa Jackson is a freelance writer and Editor in Chief of Eat Drink Travel.This great website features multiple contributors with a shared passion—food, drink and travel.
"We write weekly about people and places around the world, and provide practical advice for exploring them," says Jackson of Eat Drink Travel.
The site is for travellers, not tourists, as editor Lisa makes clear in the about page. They define travellers as those interested in immersing themselves in the cultures, food and traditions of the countries they visit, rather than imposing their own traditions and culture onto the places they visit (tourists).
Lisa is definitely a passionate food writer and traveller. She has visited more than 25 countries. She writes about history and culture, food and drink, outdoor adventure and the politics of travel. Lisa's passion for food, drink and culture come through clearly in her writing. Her research and attention to detail is notable.
Photo from EatDrinkTravel.com
Beyond Eat Drink Travel, Lisa has contributed to Huffington Post Canada, Taste & Travel, The Globe and Mail and Post City, Up Here magazine, and Travel + Escape.
Find Lisa and her blog on Social Media: Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter (personal).
Read a sample of her work:
• This Man Has the Coolest Job in Canada.
Follow these great Toronto food writers to stay in the know about where to eat out, what to eat and where that food comes from. Each writer offers a unique voice, style and perspective. Their passion for food is as apparent as their talent.