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 Chris Goodfellow

Notable Culinary Experience:  Growing up on a food focused family, Chris began his apprenticeship in Stratford, at The Church and Belfry restaurant and the King Edward hotel. After years of fine dining exposure, he furthered his resume at Avalon, Perigee Millcroft Inn, as well as overseas. He was also the Chocolatier for the Ontario government.

Favourite Dish to Eat: Always a sweet tooth, apple strudel

Cooking Inspiration: Professionally , Alain Passard. Personally, his grandmother (aww)

Top 3 Kitchen Tools:  A proper knife, good steel and tasting spoons 

Fun Fact:He once got to make dresses out of chocolate for a fashion exhibit 

Chef Mat Sutherland

Notable Culinary
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. Amajor 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 differen ttechniques 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 atT he Chef Upstairs, Lisa can be found sharing this passion with her students, while they tend to our very own herb garden.

Chef Mathieu Payette

Notable Culinary Experience: Former line cook and chef de partie at Joey Restaurant Group,
Mathieu has slowly transitioned out of the restaurant industry to combine his two passions: teaching and cooking. For the last four years, he has led cooking classes at community centres for youth and children. This summer he was a lead chef at Rooks to Cooks culinary camp in Richmond Hill and has aspirations of owning his own restaurant. His culinary interest combined with a love for travel has taken him all over North America and Europe and he hopes to add Asia soon.

Favourite Dish to Eat:Coming from an Indian and French-Canadian background I really love anything spicy and deeply flavourful, so I’d have to say daal, which is a South Asian lentil dish known for its bold colours and flavours and also Montreal smoked meat sandwiches from Schwartz’s, the best of its kind.

Cooking Inspiration:My passion for culinary was fueled by watching chefs and creators online, and my favourite would have to be Matty Matheson. He has an amazing story which really resonates with me and I truly enjoy his unapologetic and fearless style. His series Dead Set On Life is a must watch, along with his YouTube cooking show.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools:A quality chef’s knife, carbon steel pan and a tasting spoon.

Fun Fact:An avid lover of geography, Mathieu has an extensive knowledge of flags and also is an avid sports fan. 

Chef Branden Hewitt

Notable Culinary Experience:After majoring in history, a year abroad turned into a lifetime passion for travel and a misspent youth backpacking, with the belief that the absolute best way to get to know a country is in the back of a kitchen. Working at varied places from The Yukon to Nicaragua and Thailand. Returning to Canada and graduating from the culinary program at George Brown, Branden has worked with the Four Seasons and Toast in Quebec City, Blazing Kitchen, specializing in film and television (working on sets such as Schitt’s Creek, Suits and The Handmaid’s Tale). This led to various endeavours such as operating a food truck and cooking for the likes of Drake and Cardi B. Branden recently rediscovered a love of teaching through a school board position and loves the culinary freedom The Chef upstairs provides.

Favourite Food: Too many to choose, Thai and Mexican, bright, spicy, fresh but short answer… bread. “You always love the person who butters your toast” 

Cooking Inspiration:Travel, even within your city and exploring a new market- new spices and new produce. Toronto is amazing for its’ multi cultural culinary experience 

Top 3 Kitchen Tools: Sharp knife, sturdy tongs and a dry towel. 

Fun Fact: I love the history behind food and how it shaped the world and every culture. Our brain evolved by 90% the moment we started cooking our food around a million years ago, thereby making calories more accessible. So cooking is quite literally what makes us human. Only moderately enjoys long walks on the beach.


Chef Andy McKinney

Notable Culinary Experience: Chef Andy McKinney has been honing his skills as a chef for 35 years in some of Torontos' top spots such as the Royal York Hotel, Harbour 60 and North 44 to name a few. His career path led him into teaching and in-home catering where his easy going manner and culinary skills truly shine.

Favourite Dish to Eat: Chef McKinney has had the opportunity to travel extensively and soak up culture and culinary experiences in Greece, Spain, Asia and the Carribean. His recent passion is Southern BBQ and
while not a Pitmaster, he's getting pretty good!

Cooking Inspiration: Inspiration comes in many forms and it started as a child - seeing parents entertaining and cooking for friends and family. Then professionally working with dozens of highly skilled chefs of all nationalities at the the Royal York Hotel provided invaluable learning experiences daily. 

Top Kitchen Tools: My microplane, the ever dangerous but effective mandolin and if you can call it a tool, my palate!

Fun Fact: My mother was totally floored when I prepared high tea for Prince Phillip. My kids thought I was the coolest guy ever when I created the flavour profile for Doritos sweet chili heat chips!

Chef Dylan Trevisan

Notable Culinary Experience: Dylan started as a culinary apprentice at the Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise, Alberta. He continued his travels to Sydney, Australia working at the Bathers Pavilion under Chef Serge Dansereau. After spending 6 years away, he returned home and spent time working with MLSE. His lifelong goal was to be a teacher, share his experiences and inspire the next generation to take a similar path. Dylan has recently graduated teachers’ college at Brock University and his culinary and teaching skills make him an invaluable asset to The Chef Upstairs family.  

Favourite Dish to Eat:A very difficult question to answer but one dish I can never get bored of is my Nonna’s homemade Lasagna

Cooking Inspiration: A mix of helping my Nonna in the kitchen, and my mom always having Jamie Oliver on the TV in her kitchen

Top Kitchen Tools: Tiny offset spatula, tongs, and a spoon.

Fun Fact: I am a major sports fan, some of my favourite teams are the Toronto Maple Leaf’s, the Buffalo Bills, and Manchester United

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 .

Greg Heller

Notable Culinary Experience: Greg is the co-founder of The Chef Upstairs. When he purchased the original location with his younger sister (Lori Heller) in 2008, the first thing he did was sign up for Chef Training at George Brown College. While he was a good “at home” chef, he was no match for the chefs working for him. He quickly realized there was a lot to learn and that while his MBA helped him develop a strong business concept, he needed to walk the talk as well.

Favourite Dish to Eat: Pigtails and sauerkraut. His family roots are from Kitchener/Waterloo and this is a staple come Oktoberfest.

Cooking Inspiration: Greg is inspired by his mother who was a great home cook and family entertainer. For her 75th birthday, his father put together an 80 page recipe book with all of her recipes in it. Greg has taken over as the family “pickler” and in late summer he spends many evenings making dills, gherkins, relish, chili sauce and bread and butter pickles.

Top 3 Kitchen Tools: Japanese Chef knife, 9” filleting knife and a diamond honing steel.

Fun Fact: Greg likes to spend his summer weekends at the cottage. Every weekend he catches, cleans and cooks the local smallmouth bass that he then serves on the dock as Panko Coated Fish Bites with a garlic herb aioli.

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