CHILIES OBSESSION - Feisty Heat Makes the Tastebuds Tingle

November 08 2017

2014 was quite a year for spicy stories which included #celebgate where racy images leaked onto the internet. Also, it was the year of “large being in charge” - big phones trumped tiny ones; as the comeback kid -- we fell in love with large screens, perhaps to help us snap better images of our #foodporn. And it was Club House for Chefs that caught wind of all things hot and brought it into in the culinary sphere.

A bit of calculated heat in the kitchen can add depth and sensory flair to the overall flavour profile of a dish. The heat that catches you in the back of the throat, the lingering tingle on the tip of the tongue, the buildup of perspiration under the collar and beads of sweat trickling down the forehead makes one addicted for another taste. In building upon the previous year’s wanderlusting GLOBAL MY WAY flavours, chefs offer spices from different parts of the world, infusing their dishes with a scoville spectrum of tastes: from mild aleppo peppers to mind-searingly hot bhut jolokia hot chiles.

These are 5 culinary stars are offering CHILI OBSESSION flavours on a platter.


  1. Bar Isabel - Chef Grant Van Gameren is considered one of the culinary darlings in Toronto and his awards include Best New Restaurant by Enroute Magazine. Here, he uses blistered shishito peppers and tumbles it over a charred, juicy hangar steak.
  2. Pai - Chef Nuit Regular, featured on numerous Best Restaurant Lists in Toronto, uses  chili-based hot sauce nam phrik for her Pad Gra Prow. Holy basil is stir-fried with ground pork, chicken, beef or tofu; it is served over steamed jasmine rice and topped with a Thai-style fried egg. The dish is finished with nam phrik nam pla sauce (made with fish sauce, garlic, chili & lime).
  3. Latin Taste - Chef Lorena Ramos Paz, who trained at the Culinary Institute Le Cordon Bleu - Peru, showcases the best of Latin American flavours in Toronto’s Kensington Market; she makes a talk-of-the-town Papa Rellena dish which features a large golden potato croquette stuffed with spiced beef; it is served with pico de gallo and aji amarillo salsa.
  4. La Carnita - With “Instagram-worthy” eats, the cool kid’s taqueria spot offers great balls of fire a la Mexican Meatballs crafted by Chef Jon Hamilton who uses ancho & guajillo chili topped with queso fresco, crema, and cilantro.
  5. El Catrin - Mexican Chef Olivier Le Calvez, who has been named one of the Top 10 Chefs of Mexico by the Buena Mesa and recognized for his culinary excellence in publications such as Gourmet.com magazine has his signature and crave-worthy dish, Costilla Corta: a meaty braised short rib is generously coated in mole negro then served with chili de arbol, sweet potato puree, and sautéed charred corn.

The heat may have initially flared up in 2014 but the fire still burns brightly; the reality is that we love it - we’re addicted to spice - it gets your blood pumping and your temples pulsating. Best of all, Canada will never be that cold so long as we have our chilies to keep us warm at night and throughout the dead of winter.

Don’t miss which past Flavour Forecast trend we unveil next.