Thirty-four-year-old Victor Barry is widely regarded as one of the finest chefs in the country, and at his new Toronto restaurant Piano Piano, he serves “just the kind of food I would cook at home, the kind of food that people want to eat regularly.”

It is hard to square the charming and eloquent chef standing here in the kitchen of his two-Michelin-star restaurant in London, the very picture of calm and cordiality, with the ferocious reputation that precedes him.

Rob Gentile’s got a lot on his plate. In addition to running Buca Osteria & Enoteca—the Italian restaurant he heads in Toronto’s King West neighbourhood—he’s set to open the seafood-themed Buca Yorkville in the new Four Seasons Residences complex before the end of the year and a separate Bar Buca even sooner.

Matt Abergel and Lindsay Jang met in their late teens in Calgary, and today they own Yardbird and Rōnin, two of Hong Kong’s most popular restaurants—he’s the chef, she runs the front of the house.

I can almost hear the clatter of hooves against the cobblestones as my ride pulls into the grand courtyard of the Waldorf Astoria Chicago (formerly the Elysian Hotel). It’s only my imagination, though, as I’m in one of the hotel’s Lexus town cars and not a horse-drawn carriage, but such is the evocative nature of the hotel’s grand design.

Martin Picard, the man who gave the world foie gras poutine and “duck in a can”, knows how to throw a party. At the recent launch for his epic new cookbook, Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack, a pole-dancing bartender in a giant fur hat served maple margaritas from her bar-top perch.

The first time I tasted chef Jeremy Charles’s cooking was at the end of a month-long cross-country eating tour that had me dining in a different venue every day in search of Canada’s best new restaurant. St. John’s was my last stop, and to be perfectly honest, my hopes weren’t that high.

Dressed as he is this afternoon in jeans and a black T-shirt, chef Danny Grant looks more like a college freshman than the man responsible for running a two-star Michelin restaurant. He’s not in his chef’s whites this morning because we’re at the Green City Market, one of Chicago’s best farmers’ markets.

I first met chef Keith Froggett in a forest. He was taking part in a fundraising event at Michael Stadtländer’s Eigensinn Farm, and what stood out for me, apart from the excellence of the roasted quail on a potato galette that he’d cooked over an open fire, was that he’d gone to the trouble of setting up a small stereo and was listening to the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five”. I knew right away he was my kind of chef.

The year I lived in Thailand can basically be divided into time before boiled chicken (BBC) and time after (ABC). The transition occurred early one afternoon a few months after I arrived.