Chef: Sonia Mondino
Where: Pray Tell
Describe your current food style: We do small plates, multi-ethnic food with large Asian and Italian influences.
Training: I went to George Brown College for two years.
Influential food travels: I never really travelled when I was younger so was influenced by my Italian Nonna, but this year I travelled to Japan and that made me see a whole different way of cooking.
Mentor: Growing up, my nonna, but work related would be David Lee and Geoff O’Connor, both at Nota Bene when I was working there and Nathan Middleton, chef at Home of the Brave. I’ve known Nathan since the end of culinary school and he’s always pushed me to try my hardest and stay positive.
Meal of the moment: I would have cavatelli with olive oil, anchovies and rapini. I love simple food… I want the flavours to speak for themselves.
Trashy food favourites: I love any sort of sour candy.
Best breakfast: I rarely eat breakfast but I’m really into juices so I go to Anti Vice Juicery for their green juices to make I make sure I get all my veggies.
On trend ingredient you can’t get enough of: Sriracha… I literally use so much of it when I eat. For cooking, I use a lot of ginger.
Go-to Toronto resto: So for a fast meal, I love Pho Linh. I also love NAMI on King Street East.
Go-to Toronto bar: Honestly, I rarely drink… but if I do, I go to Track & Field, because you can play bocce ball and shuffle board. I really don’t have time to be hungover!
Advice to a new chef: I would say to listen to your mentors because they’re always there to help you to grow into a good chef. It’s hard work and some days you’ll wonder why you’re doing this but remember, nothing is easy. Your passion and hard work will push you through those hard days.
Kitchen mantra: Stay focused, work hard and have fun with your work. Let the food speak for itself!
Daily inspiration: Making my family and loved ones proud. When I said I wanted to be a chef, my family thought it would be hard because of the long hours. They’ve been so supportive so when I had my soft opening, seeing my family cry made me so proud of what I had accomplished. My Nonna just burst into tears while she was holding this bag of tomatoes for me from her garden.