I got a chance to meet Chef Matt Basile last week during a special dinner held at Chef Jessie at the Rockwell Club courtesy of the Asian Food Channel (AFC). Chef Matt “Fidel Gastro” Basile is known as the king of pop ups and food trucks in his native Toronto, Canada and is famous for the Extremo Sanwiches” a Toronto style Cuban sandwich. He currently busies himself running his restaurant, Lisa Marie as well as his food truck “Priscilla“.
He was in town promoting the second season of his show “Rebel Without A Kitchen“. In the show, he takes his food truck “Fidel Gastro” through Toronto and organizing different pop ups based on his beloved street foods.
Octopus with Fennel and Orange Salad. An Asian flavored dish with the small octopus basted with a sweet/salty Hoisin sauce then grilled for an added smoky flavor. It is served with thinly sliced fennel bulb which are nice and crisp and tasted something like sweet white onions. Squeeze a bit of the calamansi to brighten up the flavors of the fennel. Chef Matt discovered calamansi and fell in love with it and is now hoping he can bring it to Toronto. This was paired with a Balvenie 21 year old whisky.
Salsa Verde Beef Hearts. This was my very first encounter with beef hearts and I initially thought it would have an offal leaning flavor. Once I got up the courage, I sliced it and saw that it looked like a medium rare piece of steak. The medium spicy salsa verde added a nice zing to the beef hearts. This would be perfect as filling for a burrito or a soft taco.
Lamb Zoupa with Bread. This was a hearty dish that reminded me of goulash because of the conchiglie (shell shaped pasta) and chunky pieces of lamb. It was even better because it was raining that night and the comforting soup really hit the spot. This was paired with a Balvenie 12 year old whisky.
There were two main course options but Anton and I ordered a different one and just shared so we could taste both.
Moroccan Spiced Beef Tenderloin. A well seasoned a perfectly cooked medium steak topped with crushed pistachios. The twist in this dish is the use of the edamame beans in a mash that was not only new but delicious.
Salt and Vinegar Prawns with Trinity Sauce. I got a piece of this that was almost free from the trinity sauce which turned out to be SPICY. The prawns were juicy and well prepared without the meat turning tough.
Dessert was Elvis in a Jar. Rum infused french toast on the bottom with maple syrup, sweet bananas and a whipped peanut butter cream to cap it off. I actually finished this one off, that’s how good it was despite not really being a fan of peanut butter. This was paired with a Balvenie 17 year old whisky.
The dinner was a great showcase of Chef Matt Basile cooking prowess, with dishes spanning different cuisines but it would have been even better in a pop-up or food truck ambiance.
Catch Chef Matt Basile’s Rebel Without A Kitchen Season Two on the Asian Food Channel starting September 11, 2014. AFC can be seen on Sky Cable (Ch. 22), Cignal (Ch. 30) and Dream (Ch. 27).
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