On the premiere episode of “Chef Artois,” it’s paella or bust


“Chef Artois” is a new limited series that’s inviting diners back inside Toronto’s top restaurants. On this bite-sized cooking show—episodes are a satisfying 10 minutes long and the city’s chefs aren’t doing the cooking. Instead, diners are donning aprons and letting chefs judge their culinary chops.

The series was created in support of Rally for Restaurants, an initiative founded by Stella Artois to help support the restaurant industry as it rebuilds in the wake of the pandemic.

In each weekly episode, two Torontonians will step inside the kitchen of a Toronto restaurant to compete for the title of Chef Artois and win a $1,000 prize pack. The premiere takes us inside Madrina Bar y Tapas, located in the cobblestoned Distillery District. Here, chef Ramon Simarro joins “Chef Artois” series host Pay Chen to welcome contestants Brittany Karac and Sonny Patel. Their task: impress Simarro by executing a perfect seafood paella in an hour or less.

According to the Barcelona-born chef, “the easiest mistake for the contestants to make is over cooking the paella.” The dish demands perfect timing: a few minutes too many and the rice is mush and the seafood turns to rubber. Simarro’s standards are high; he’s worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and has been lauded by local critics for his excellent tapas, including a terrific mille-feuille take on patatas bravas that Toronto Life called the “city’s fanciest fried potatoes.”

For Patel and Karac, two home cooks with no professional training, the pressure’s on and the countdown hasn’t even started. With 60 minutes on the clock, the contenders step into the kitchen to be presented with their ingredients, including bomba rice imported from Spain and spot prawns and clams from British Columbia.

On the chef’s mark, the frenzy of chopping, stirring and sautéing begins. It’s anyone’s prize to win. Patel, who works as a magician, might be used to performing for a crowd, but Karac looks calm… maybe even a little cocky. She’s made paella before. Will her confidence get the best of him? Or will the magician have a trick up his sleeve? It’s anyone’s cookoff to win.

Tune in here to find out who will be being named the first-ever “Chef Artois.”