The Team - The Chef Upstairs

Chef Julian Pancer

Notable Culinary Experience: Julian has been the co-owner and culinary instructor at The Chef Upstairs since 2014. He is also co-owner of Pancer's Original Deli, a Toronto landmark since 1957 and family owned for 4 generations. He is the house chef of Market&Co. at Upper Canada Mall and The Food District at Square One Shopping Centre. Julian began working in restaurants at the age of 11 in his family’s deli after discovering his love for food in his mom’s kitchen. He is a graduate of the George Brown Chef School and has learned his trade working with many talented chefs. His experience includes Trump Hotel & Tower in Toronto, Sous Chef at Ciao Wine Bar in Yorkville and Head Chef at The Tavern on Spadina.

Favourite Dish to Eat: Anything fresh, spicy and preferably with his hands. Honourable mentions include sushi, curries, tacos, pho, ramen and Ethiopian cuisine… and of course, pastrami on rye.

Cooking Inspiration: His mom, his family’s deli, Anthony Bourdain and his travels.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools: Silicone spatula, small wire whisk and his hands.

Fun Fact: Julian is an avid lover of music and performed and sang in bands for over a decade.

Chef Taylor Lewis

Notable Culinary Experience:Taylor has been cooking since before she could reach the counter tops in her grandmother's kitchen. She worked at The Drake for over 5 years, and contributed to their seasonal menu changes and multiple new restaurant openings during her time there. She has been inspiring others to cook and teaching aspiring chefs of all ages for the past 5 years. She is a graduate of the George Brown Chef School, and has worked in a multitude of culinary settings including restaurants, catering kitchens, bakeries, cooking studios and private events. She is also an avid baker who loves to create custom wedding cakes and design elaborate sugar cookies. 

Favourite Dish to Eat:I love dumplings of all origins, and I can't resist a big bowl of kimchi soon tofu jigae. My biggest weakness is my love of sourdough bread. 

Cooking Inspiration:My grandmother's baking, my
grandfather's cooking and my extensive collection of cookbooks. 

Top 3 kitchen tools:Microplane, rolling pin and bench scraper 

Fun fact:When she's not in the kitchen, Taylor loves exploring the outdoors, camping and cooking over an open fire

Chef Mat Sutherland

Notable Culinary Experience:Starting his culinary journey in his childhood, Mat became the Chef and Owner of award-winning Toronto restaurants Fat Cat Bistro and Fat Cat Wine Bar, as well as Fat Cat Catering. He gained his reputation for a farm-to-table approach that focused on local, seasonal ingredients. Mat has benefited from a wealth of world travel that inspires him, and which placed him at the forefront of creating private dining and Chef’s Table experiences that paired the best of fresh, simple ingredients with diverse, innovative approaches. After leaving the hustle of restaurant life, Mat has found new rhythms in the joy of teaching and sharing his food passion in various settings, ranging from back-country adventure catering to intimate in-home dining.      

Favourite Dish to Eat:An almost impossible question! Grilled Beef Ribeye topped with Roquefort Cheese, paired with real Arugula.

Cooking Inspiration:The food that the farmers, foragers, fishers, and hunters provide us with.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools:A good chopping board, a sharp knife, and a mortar and pestle

Fun Fact:If you want to attract a Polar Bear in the Arctic, cook corn tortillas.

Chef Elizabeth Malacarne

Notable Culinary Experience:Elizabeth has been a true baker and chef at heart since she was a small child.  Her family’s history with the kitchen dates back to her ancestors in Italy who owned a knife sharpening shop. She spent days with her father traveling from kitchen to kitchen doing deliveries for their family business. Being in the kitchen from such a young age instilled a deep knowledge and love for the art of food within her. Growing up, her stepmother and father were always hosting and cooking up a huge feast for family and friends. From baking with her mother at such a young age, Elizabeth started her own baking business specializing in decorated sugar cookies. She has worked in various restaurants in several cities.

Favorite Dish to Eat: A perfectly cooked steak with all the seafood and of course cupcakes. 

Cooking Inspiration: My mom. We would make sugar cookies for every and any occasion. Nothing can beat being in Nova Scotia and baking cinnamon rolls
with my grandmother. 

Top Three Kitchen Tools: Mini spatula, Mini whisk and a piping bag.

Fun Fact:She loves being surrounded by her family and friends with great food, wine and of course her dog Sophie is always around.  

Chef Pierre Beaumier

Notable Culinary Experience: Chef Pierre received a diploma in kitchen business management from College Limoilou Charlesbourg in Quebec. Chef Pierre followed his path one step at a time, honing his skills as a dishwasher, bagel artist, chocolatier, fish monger, line cook, restaurant manager, entrepreneur and chef. Pierre has worked in a three Michelin star restaurant in Tokyo, well as fine dining in a Relais and Châteaux in Quebec.

Favourite Dish to Eat: Chef Pierre used to have a serious sweet tooth for all things pastry and desserts, but a slowing metabolism can also slow certain cravings. Now his go to meal is a perfectly cooked salmon filet, white rice, and miso soup… oh and not to forget a warm mochi cake wrapped in seaweed and a little soy sauce.

Cooking Inspiration: Chefs like Escoffier, Carême, and many other early influencers. One contemporary chef that he finds truly inspiring is Raymond Blanc; a fascinated character and owner of Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, who demonstrates the purpose of cooking in a beautiful way.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools: His three “Y-shaped” peelers that he carries with him in every kitchen: A fine peeler, a julienne peeler, and a serrated one.

Fun Fact: Chef Pierre is passionate about Japanese cooking. He is known amongst certain circles to have mastered the art of chicken katsu. He also operated and instructed at his own martial arts dojo. The discipline Chef Pierre has achieved in life is clear to see, while instructing others.

Chef Obadiah Sahu

Notable Culinary Experience:  I was inspired to get into culinary by my mum and dad. Professionally I started cooking at 14 years old, in kitchens in India while studying. I did my BS in Nutrition. I worked for Taj group of hotels before starting my world culinary travels. I ended up in Niagara-on-the-Lake and was part of the opening team for Ravine Estates Winery, Treadwell Cuisine. I also worked with Peller Estates Winery, Tony De Luca and spent some time with Willow Cakes and Pastries as head baker. Continuing with the opening trend in Toronto, I went on to open Maple Leaf Tavern, Cluny Bistro, Madrina, Ballaro Fine Dining. I love sharing my love of food with everyone at The Chef Upstairs!

Favourite Dish to Eat:  Rice and Dhal, with fried bread in butter 

Cooking Inspiration:  Dad & Mum. Albert Adria and
The Roux brothers.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools:  Hands, Copper sauce pot and off
set spatula

Fun Fact:  I love music and have played bass in many bands. You will always find me grooving to music while cooking.

Chef Lisa Ursi

Notable Culinary Experience: Chef Lisa received her culinary diploma and red seal certification through George Brown College in Toronto. A major highlight in her career, includes running a small cafe and being given the opportunity to create and experiment with different styles of cooking This experience challenged her to tap into her creativity and explore different techniques and a variety of cuisines.

Favourite Dish to Eat: Margherita Pizza

Cooking Inspiration: Chef Lisa’s love for cooking comes from countless hours (and courses) spent with her family preparing, eating, drinking, and sitting around the table spending time together. Coming from an Italian family, food has always been a big part of her life and she loves the way it brings people together.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools: A sharp knife, a tasting spoon, and a good cutting board.

Fun Fact: Chef Lisa is a passionate gardener, being given the gift of a green thumb from her grandmother aka Nonna Angela. During summer camp at The Chef Upstairs, Lisa can be found sharing this passion with her students, while they tend to our very own herb garden.

Chef Luis Hu

Notable Culinary Experience:  Luis's culinary journey has taken him on a globe-trotting adventure, allowing him to learn from the rich tapestry of world cuisines. From the bustling markets of Europe to the vibrant street food stalls of Asia, he has absorbed the diverse and intricate techniques of many great culinary traditions. Each restaurant he has worked in has left an indelible mark on his culinary repertoire, with experiences such as Noma, Figo, and the former Weslodge in Toronto. Luis firmly believes in two aspects: the art of food transcends borders and beyond that, everyone can cook. As a chef, he finds joy in sharing his passion for food and the stories behind each dish, inviting others to embark on a journey through the world's culinary wonders.

Favourite Dish to Eat:  Seafood Paella, Jambalaya and a good Southern Fried Chicken. Anything with deep and complex flavours that build on one another.

Cooking Inspiration:  Hard to choose but an inspiration from when he was younger was Bobby Flay but more recently Thomas Keller. Another prominent inspiration is his grandmother ironically had little culinary prowess when he was born. She is the one who taught him that the journey of learning is perpetual and that never be afraid to experiment.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools:  Zester, a spoon for tasting, and a sharp knife.

Fun Fact: Luis was originally a paramedic and was slated to go to medical school before he decided to pursue his passion for food and cooking.

Danielle Pancer

Notable Culinary Experience: Danielle is the Events Manager for both studio locations and a lover of all things food…. One of the reasons she married a chef!

Favourite Dish to Eat: Sushi, pasta and anything Julian makes for dinner!

Cooking Inspiration: While she doesn’t cook often (and is great at re-heating), she is inspired by her mom’s and Julian’s creativity in the kitchen. It’s pretty amazing to see people pull a whole bunch of random stuff out of the fridge to bring together a unique and delicious meal.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools: Top 3? Just a fork and knife.

Fun Fact: Danielle’s first cousin is Gal Gadot, aka WonderWoman .

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