The 2019 Barilla Pasta World Championship is happening in Paris this week, and one Toronto chef is hoping his dish has what it takes to win it all.
Chef Kshitiz Sethi of Paese Ristorante in North York will be representing Canada at the competition with his twist on spaghetti con le sarde — a Sicilian pasta dish that traditionally includes sardines and anchovies.
“I was trying to put together something multicultural, I knew I would be representing Canada,” Sethi told CBC News.
He says he adds some non-traditional ingredients to the dish, like lemon, spices and fennel pollens. Saffron and sultana raisins give his version a multicultural twist, said Sethi, who comes from a Punjabi background.
“It’s a traditional Sicilian dish with my take on it … each ingredient comes from a different culture,” Sethi said.
Sethi first learned about the competition when his manager approached him with the opportunity. “I ended up sending my bio and my story with my recipe and luckily I was selected,” he said.
Sethi had to first compete in a round with four other chefs before moving on to the competition in Paris. He says he was happy after winning that first round, adding, “I am really excited, I’ve never been to Paris … I’m going to try a lot of food there.”
While he is excited to compete, Sethi says he didn’t expect to get this kind of exposure so early in his career. “I always thought that I would do really good in cooking but this has come really early … I have been cooking two years.”
Sethi also gained experience helping his father in his bakery when he was a teenager, which is where he discovered his interest in the food business.
“I saw there was opportunity … but I was lacking a lot in terms of experience and skills. That’s when I decided, let me first learn,” he said.
With the help of his sister, Sethi decided to enrol in George Brown College to expand his culinary skills. “I would say this has been the best decision so far in terms of cooking … I’ve got to experience a lot,” he said.
He hopes to one day have his own restaurant.
“I am really happy and proud that I got a chance to represent Canada in Paris.”