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We at GFR are really enjoying the breadth of the programming at this year’s Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival, and the inclusion of Chef Elizabeth Rivasplata, a young, exciting Peruvian Chef who shot to fame through her competing in the second season of Top Chef Canada, adds even more diversity to the mix.

If you would like to catch up with Elizabeth at Savour Stratford then check her out on Sunday the 22nd of September at 12:30pm on the Toronto Star Culinary Stage.

Here’s our interview with the woman herself:

Good Food Revolution: I’m not sure if you have spent time in Stratford before Elizabeth? What you think of Stratford, what comes to mind?

Elizabeth Rivasplata: To be honest I haven’t , but from what I’ve heard I’m looking forward to spending some time there and also really looking forward to Savour Stratford, Its going to be an awesome festival.

GFR: And what are you doing at Savour Stratford later this month exactly?

ER: I’ll be doing a demo at the Toronto star culinary stage.

GFR: And are there any interesting locally sourced ingredients that we can expect to see in your demonstration?

ER:  theme of this year is Globally Inspired, Locally Grown. I’ll use locally grown ingredients to produce a traditional Peruvian dish. The demo will be very simple , I tried to find a dish thats full of flavour and textures but at the same time will be easy to reproduce for anybody who attends the demo.

GFR: You hail from Peru… what does Peruvian cuisine mean to you?

ER:  , I was born and raised in Lima -Peru, Peruvian cuisine its where all started for me, it is were I always go back for inspiration. I’m also very proud and excited with all the recognition Peruvian cuisine is getting now, there is so much to show to the world about Peruvian food , so many new/old ingredients .

GFR: And how does it influence the way that that you cook today?

ER:  fresh and simple , and letting the good ingredients speak by themselves. I always try to incorporate either a ingredient or technique from a traditional Peruvian dish in my menus.

GFR: Over the years you have worked in Peru, the United States, and Canada. Through these experiences how would you describe the main differences between these places when it comes to food culture and hospitality?

ER: Each place has their own in terms of cultivation, distribution, preparation and appreciation of food. Working in three different countries gave me an insight on what food and hospitality represents in each one.

Fast food is popular in the three countries , but I also find that Peru and Canada have very strong regional cuisines based on the available ingredients and the ethnic groups who settle in the different regions making it more diverse and interesting if i compare with the States in terms of traditional cuisine.

GFR: When you were a young Cook, where did you take your inspiration from?

ER: Now that I look back , I would say my family dad and grandma, they are not chefs but the way they treat and respect food was what got me into cooking and what inspires me until today.

GFR: I only recently discovered that you were your country’s national Tae Kwon Do champion for 12 years. Were many of those skills transferrable to the the kitchen? I’m guessing discipline and not the more aggressive bits?

ER: LOL , Yes discipline and the capacity to concentrate and keep focus even when there is a lot of people and stuff happening around you.

GFR: You came to broader recognition through television’s Top Chef Canada. What did you learn through your participation in that “reality” show?

ER: It was fun, but at the same time very stressful experience. I’ve learned a lot about myself and also about the “reality” show business

GFR: I’m guessing that people would come up to you in the street after that exposure? How was it dealing with all that fame?

ER: It was ok… overall a fun experience that not too many people gets to experience.

GFR: You were recently in the role of Executive Chef at The Beer Hall restaurant. Firstly, are you a beer drinker?

ER: I’m not at the BeerHall anymore , I’m looking into new challenges right now and yes I’m a wine lover and a Beer drinker.

GFR: And did the beer offered there force you to adapt your cooking style?

ER: I did a lot of testing and research in order to get the food and pairings rights, and I had to adapt my cooking to be able to incorporate beer in most of the dishes from savoury to sweet.

I got a lot of support from the Brewery , specially Joel Manning the brewmaster who was awesome and passionate about beer as much as I am about food.

GFR: So do you think that beer goes better with food than wine?

ER: You can pair beer with food ..but I would say that pairing beer with food its a little bit more complicated than with wine… an as I mentioned before I’m a beer drinker, but a wine lover, please don’t make me pick one.

GFR: Where do you enjoying eating on your days off?

ER: I’m always on the go, trying new restaurants and going back to the old favourites (I really enjoy the food at the Black Hoof )

GFR: As well as presenting your session at Savour Stratford, what else do you hope to do while you are there?

ER: I’m looking forward to enjoy all what Savour Stratford has to offer this year

GFR: Thank you so much Elizabeth, thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to sharing a glass of wine/beer with you at Savour Stratford!

ER: And I look forward to sharing a couple of glasses of wine/beer with you. All the best !


Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution
… And he’s going to try to get the real stories from Top Chef Canada from Elizabeth down in Stratford.