Top Chef Canada’s Janet Zuccarini makes Cavolo Nero Kale Salad

By / Food / April 25th, 2020 / 2

With Top Chef Canada’s eighth season well underway, we’re excited to try the next recipe from the Top Chef judges.  First, we saw head judge Mark McEwan’s Charred Octopus and Chickpea Salad. Then, we made our own ricotta with host Chef Eden Grinshpan’s Sugar Snap Peas and Mint Salad. Last week, we tasted Chris Nuttall-Smith’s Farinata. Our fourth dish, Cavolo Nero Kale Salad, comes from resident judge Janet Zuccarini.

Powerhouse restauranteur Janet Zuccarini is the sole owner of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group. She built her brand from a single restaurant – Trattoria Nervosa in Yorkville – to what is now a nine-restaurant brand that spans two cities, Toronto and Los Angeles. They are constantly expanding as well. In 2019, Janet was named as Businesswoman of the Year by the Italian Chamber of Commerce. In addition to these accolades, she also happens to be the first woman in Canada to become an AVPN certified Pizzaiola. Recognized as a Deloitte Best Managed Company, the empire that Janet and her team have built is notable not only for the successes it has seen to date, but also for its contribution to community-building programs that support women and children. Gusto Gives Back – the charitable arm of Gusto 54 – oversees homegrown “Mini Chefs” programming as well as regularly contributing to organizations like Foodshare and The Stop that feed and teach people to eat in healthy and sustainable ways.

Read her full bio on Food Network.

Try out Zuccarini’s spring-inspired dish this weekend and don’t forget to tune in to the next episode of Top Chef Canada on Monday.

Janet ZuccariniCavolo Nero Kale Salad

Enjoy this with Debbie Por Favor cocktail (recipe below). Makes one serving.

1 1/2 cups lacinato kale, tough ribs removed and finely julienned
1 tbsp pecorino, grated or finely shaved
1 tsp toasted pine nuts
2 tsp dried Zante currants
6 tbsp Lemon Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
1 tbsp Parmesan, grated or finely shaved

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let stand for a few minutes to let everything marinate and soften. Plate and garnish with additional grated parmesan and pecorino.
Yield: Makes 1 serving

Lemon Vinaigrette

5 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until combined.

Debbie Por Favor

1 oz reposado tequila
3/4 oz fernet branca
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz maple syrup

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake the mix nicely for about 20 seconds. Strain the mix into your favorite coupe glass and place one of the averna shard on the glass rim for garnish. You can eat the caramel averna shards as you drink your cocktail or simply throw it into your drink and enjoy your Debbie Por Favor changing flavour from one sip to the other as the shard melts into the drink.

Averna Caramel Shard Garnish

250 g sugar
1/2 oz amaro averna
Parchment paper (cut in small pieces)

Place sugar in a small saucepan and heat sugar is dissolved and warned into a golden brown caramel. Remove from heat and add the Amaro Averna, stir constantly until the mix gets slightly cooler. Use a spoon to drizzle the caramel onto small pieces of parchment paper – feel free to get creative with the shapes.

Let the caramel drizzles cool down until they are completely solid. Move them into a plastic container, storage them in a dry and cool place or use immediately for garnish.


Top Chef Canada season eight airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network Canada. This season’s winner will be crowned Top Chef and receive a grand prize of $100,000 provided by Interac Corp., a 2020 Lexus RX Self-Charging Hybrid Electric SUV, and an eight-night guided tour of Italy for two courtesy of Air Transat.

Visit foodnetwork.ca for an inside scoop on the upcoming season including full cast bios, competitor predictions, videos, image galleries and more. Check back week-to-week for recaps of each episode’s best moments, a closer look at the winning dish of the week, tips from the guest judges and more.

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