Chef Shahir’s Passion for Food and Entertaining

I had the most amazing epiphany today as I packed up after filming a segment for Cityline. Crew members, and fellow show experts were hovering over the work table where a pile of leftovers remained from today’s cooking demonstration. The segment showcased beautiful, summer fruits, used in the most incredible dishes. A pile of Italian Taleggio (a complex, semi-soft cheese) with pancetta and honeydew agrodolce, roasted peaches with rosemary and seared pork chops, and charred radicchio and strawberry salad remained. And they were all being sampled.

I truly enjoyed piling cheese onto crostinis, dressing the salad and doling out sweet, honey soaked peaches for the hungry crew. Then, it hit me! I knew the key to being a great host. And it’s no different whether you’re hosting a fancy, formal party or if you’re just inviting a close-knit group for a backyard cookout.

Back in my university days – many, many years ago – I took great pride in the parties I hosted in our shared dorm suite. I even emptied out an electrical closet, lined the floors with wood tile, added neon bar signs, and created an extra area for a bar fridge. Hey, every inch counted back then! But this morning I realized the same principles that made me a great host back then, have carried on to my adult life as a professional in the hospitality industry. They’re also the same traits that will ensure all your guests feel welcome at the gathering you host this summer season.

I really believe that people can tell when you genuinely want to take care of them. They can feel the energy behind a dish that you are proud of because you gave it your best effort. They can sense that you care when you ask if their drink needs refreshing. Simply put, when you put in the effort and show that you care, people respond in the most heartwarming and gratifying way. Feeding the crew this morning wasn’t anything special. But you know what? I enjoyed it and they were really thankful and truly appreciative. When you think about it, that’s what being a great host is all about.

Some of my recipes are a bit labour intensive. There’s some shopping to do. There’s prep and planning and cleanup. But, you should know that I created these recipes with a ton of love and care. I’m really proud of them and am happy to feed them to my parents, family and friends. So, if you do decide to try some out (which I really hope you do!), then I hope you carry that spirit of passion and sincerity on to your own guests. Nothing about your cooking has to be perfect. Just put in the time and effort, and I promise you that it will show.

Happy cooking,