On Foodable Side Dish: Best of 2016

Video Produced by Vanessa C. Rodriguez

On Foodable Side Dish” aims to give you an inside look at the trending concepts, exclusive kitchens, and unique chefs in the restaurant business through the eyes of a local from different cities. The show hit major milestones this year — one of them being the first time we hit the food scene in Canada! But which were the best moments of 2016? Watch this "Best of" and find out! 

Chef Amanda Cohen at Dirt Candy

With chef and owner Amanda Cohen at the helm, Dirt Candy’s mission is to celebrate the glory of vegetables like never before in New York City. Cohen, who is vegetarian, and her team have been very successful at doing just that!

Dirt Candy has established itself as a leader in the vegetable-forward movement — and with a few accolades to prove it, including becoming the first vegetarian restaurant in 17 years to receive two stars from the New York Times, being recognized by the Michelin Guide five years in a row, and winning awards from Gourmet Magazine. Now it is honored in this episode of "On Foodable Side Dish: Best of 2016"!

Because the idea behind Dirt Candy’s operation is to educate diners about how delicious vegetables can be, the adventurous chef has menu items with names like "Whatever Pickles" that allow her to be creative and have fun with her dishes, all while exposing her guests to a wide variety of tastes and different kinds of vegetables.

“We call them 'Whatever Pickles' because, really, it’s whatever we find in our walk-in that day. Lately, we’ve been finding a lot of lollipop sprout, which isn’t a vegetable most people are familiar with. We’re having a lot of fun with it,” she said. “Sometimes the biggest flavor comes from the simplest dishes.”

Chef Matthew Hyland at Emmy Squared

The first three meals the Hyland couple shared revolved around pizza. It’s been a love affair with each other and the cheesy dish ever since. It was only natural that the first venture Chef Matthew Hyland took on was with his wife, Emily, also the namesake for their first restaurant, and the concept had to do with pizza, among other delicious fare.

Now with Emmy Squared, their second restaurant, which is located in the neighborhood of Williamsburg in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, the couple aims to reintroduce an underrepresented style of pizza — The Detroit-style Deep Dish Pizza.

The first time Chef Hyland tried this style of pizza was an eye-opening experience for him. The pizza was actually delivered from the Motor City itself.

“It was pretty spectacular because growing up eating Sicilian pizza and grandma pizza here...those were really the only exposure to square pizza we had in New York! ” Hyland said.

The learning curve to perfect the special dish was not an easy one, but after months of trial and error, Chef Hyland is proud of the results demonstrating growth in his craft.

Chef Danny St-Pierre at Petite Maison

Elegance exudes from every dish served at Petite Maison in Montreal, Canada. That’s the goal, according to Chef Danny St-Pierre, whose culinary touch elevates the most traditional of dishes. The remarkable thing is that the price point is still very affordable and the design and decor of the restaurant is very approachable — hence the restaurant name, Petite Maison, which is French for “Little House.”

“We’re like an upscale diner, if you may. A place where people of all origins or budgets can come and see us and have a good time,” St-Pierre said.

We decided to visit Petite Maison thanks to its high ranking in our Top 25 Canada list, which features the best restaurants in Canada's most well-known food cities: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. Petite Maison did not disappoint.

Chef St-Pierre, creator of the inverted poutine — his personal take on Quebec’s national dish, poutine or cheese fries with brown gravy — is restless in the kitchen. During our Top Dish Canada competition, this innovative chef gushed about his homemade rye bread, which they make early every morning, and his spin on the traditional Tarte de Sucre, or sugar pie, before going into detail about his star dish, the jambon braise carbonara, or ham-braised pasta carbonara.

This episode is one of our favorites because it’s dynamic, Chef St-Pierre is fun and unique, and the #foodporn is present all across the board!

Watch each episode individually to learn more:

"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

Which restaurant reigns supreme? Find out in "Top Dish," a multi-part mini-series where the top three Canadian restaurants go head-to-head for the title of best dish. Restaurants and their chefs, one in Montreal, one in Vancouver, and one in Toronto, will fire up their pans and show off why their talent, style, and concept make them No. 1.

How It's Scored

The scoring system for "Top Dish" begins by determining the top restaurant in each city through our proprietary Foodable Labs data, but to shake things up, we've enlisted the top local food influencers to put their taste buds to the test as critics. Each critic's responsibility is to taste the chef's featured dish (sign us up!) and give a serving of the truth — what is their honest, on-camera critique? (Not in front of the chefs, of course. Unless they're watching this now...)

Our critics are asked to privately rate different elements of the dish and experience to determine an overall score. The overall scores for each restaurant are revealed at the end of "Top Dish." But what goes behind each of the scores? Three things: the critic's scorecard (which includes selection, tableware, plating, ingredients, and more on a scale of 1 to 10), food sentiment score, and service sentiment score, the latter two tracked by Foodable Labs. In total, the highest score a restaurant can earn is 270 points.

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Three Restaurants Go Head-to-Head for "Top Dish"

Three Restaurants Go Head-to-Head for "Top Dish"

“Top Dish” is a multi-part mini-series that pits three top Canadian restaurants — one in Montreal, one in Vancouver, and another in Toronto — against each other to reveal the best dish. These restaurants’ chefs will go head to head to deliver the best dish — one they have chosen themselves to best represent their talents, style, and concept.

How It’s Scored

The scoring system for “Top Dish” includes, as per usual, our proprietary Foodable Labs data. But to shake things up a bit, we’ve also enlisted top local food influencers to be critics in each city.

Each critic’s responsibility is to taste the chef’s featured dish (tough job, right?) and then give an honest on-camera critique — not in front of the chef, of course. Perhaps most importantly, our critics are tasked to privately rate different elements of the dish and experience to later determine an overall score, which will be revealed at the end so as not to give anything away. The overall scores for each restaurant are broken down into three parts: the critic’s scorecard (which consists of many elements — from selection and tableware to plating and ingredients — on a 1-10 scale), food sentiment tracked by Foodable Labs, and service sentiment, also tracked by Foodable Labs. In total, a restaurant can earn up to 270 points.

Read More