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VL 1-on-1 with Ted Corrado executive chef at Drake One Fifty, Drake Hotel and Drake Devonshire

I had the very distinct pleasure of sitting down with Ted Corrado, executive chef at Drake One Fifty, Drake Hotel and Drake Devonshire, leading up to the Taste of Toronto Food Festival.

It was evident within minutes that simplicity is a theme which runs through not only his work but also his life.

Our conversation was scheduled to take about 30 minutes or so, but his generosity allowed the conversation to carry on beyond that. While I listened to his answers to my questions I discovered immediately that Ted is an artist in the truest sense of the word.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Ted Corrado: “I look at everything around me. I look at what’s happening right now. I go out to Prince Edward County (he stops at this point to flip through some pictures on his phone of craftsmen he had recently gone to see there.) This is what I look at… the artisans… the farmers. I like the simplicity of South American cuisine… perfect combinations in a simple package… tacos, just like pizza or burgers… simple.”

What do you think are some of the most exciting culinary trends right now?

TC: (He laughs a little at his and thows the question out to his mixologist on the other side of the bar) “I don’t really follow trends. I dunno… I love fried chicken. I love mixology (again gesturing to his mixologist) I just hate the concept of trends. I think it’s just more important to be true to yourself.”

What do you wish Toronto had more of?

TC: “How do I say this? Do you go to Montreal ever? I wish we had more soulful restaurants.” (This reviewer happens to agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment which caused us to launch into a whole conversation about who is in the kitchens of these “soulful” restaurants which Ted concluded was “someone’s grandmother just killin’ it…”

What is your favourite place to shop for ingredients?

TC: Kensington, the food terminal and Prince Edward County.

Where do you like to eat when you go out in Toronto?

TC: “Bar Raval, Campagnolo… I mean these people really know what they’re doing!

What is your favourite place to travel for food?

TC: “Probably anywhere in Italy. I ate at this place once. I wouldn’t even be able to find it again… don’t know the name of it either… lots of winding roads and we wound up in a cave! There was no menu… they just kept bringing food out. Of course Montreal too.”

What is the last thing you ate?

TC: “Tacos in Kensington Market… very good.”

Do you have a motto by which you live your life?

TC: “Yeah, I guess… ask for forgiveness not permission. You know, when you know in your gut what the right to do is then you just do it and you don’t wait around for approval.”

Ted Corrado is an artist. It is evident in both his cooking and his speech. His commitment to his art a lifestyle. Look for Ted at Taste of Toronto this July.

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Stacia Carlton is a culinary school graduate and a food writer. She writes about all things food at www.bestillandeat.com