Thu 29 Feb 2024
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Canada’s Podcast

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Canada’s Podcast

Celebrated for her butchery skills and simple approach to food you will recognize Connie DeSousa from her appearances on Top Chef Canada, Top Chef All Stars and most recently a judge for Food Networks Fire Masters. She is one of Canada’s most celebrated female chefs with both an empathetic, yet fierce, approach to her work, life and fitness. Connie is driven to succeed. Once she sets her sights on a goal, she accomplishes it. An avid runner, Connie recently completed the NYC marathon and achieved her personal best as she sprinted across the finish line. Connie’s ambition stemmed from her humble roots, growing up in Erin Woods community in SE Calgary with her Irish mother and Portuguese father who worked hard to achieve success.
Cooking was infused into a young Connie as was her love for sausage making and large family get-togethers where food was what brought them around the table. Graduating from the top of her culinary class, she met her mentor, John Jackson, and instantly she knew they had a partnership for life. Connie has challenged herself to compete in many culinary competitions around the world, including the prestigious Chaîne De Rotîsseurs in South Africa, placing 4th in the world, and participated in the World Culinary Olympics in Germany.
Working internationally, staging at well-known restaurants around the world, mastering nose-to-tail butchery, cultivating relationships with farmers and artisan producers, and challenging the social norms of women in the professional kitchen Connie has dedicated countless hours to her craft. Now, a mother, co-owner of several successful restaurants and businesses, mentor to young chefs and women in the industry, as well as a fitness advocate, and community ambassador, Connie’s success relies on finding absolute balance. In every challenge Connie approaches she desires to fit more minutes in every day, but still manages to defy time and space.
An accomplished chef and co-owner of several award-winning restaurants and businesses, John Jackson has been a leader and a mentor to so many young chefs and entrepreneurs dedicating his time to changing lives and nourishing those around him. Growing up in Saskatchewan, he started cooking at the young age of 15, out of necessity, where he realized that, in a kitchen, social status did not matter and the way to get ahead was to focus, and work hard. He set out on a steady, ambitious career path, travelling and working in some of the world’s most well-known restaurants, attaining success with his many awards, nominations and notable achievements. John studied sausage-making in Italy’s Marche and later landed at the St. Regis in New York. At 29 years of age John was given the opportunity to open the prestigious Mobil 5-star St. Regis Hotel in San Fransisco, California. After the successful opening of the St. Regis, John continued to open multiple restaurants under the Starwood name including the Lagoon by Jean George in Bora Bora.
In 2009, it became clear that it was time to return to home to Calgary. Along with his wife, Carrie, and co-chef, co-owner Connie Desousa, they opened CHARCUT Roast House where they pride themselves in bringing an evolved, but simple approach to dining in the truest Canadian farm-to-table fashion. The restaurant was quickly named Canada’s Best Restaurant and continues to top the list. After CHARCUT, came the opening of charbar in 2015, an Argentine-inspired restaurant with Italian and Spanish influences where the parilla wood-fired grill warms in the heart of the restaurant. Located in the Historical building along the Bow River in the re-established East Village of Calgary, the Simmons quickly became the focal point for cyclists, runners and families exploring the Riverwalk community, and was named Calgary’s best new restaurant for 2015. The most resent adventure is just hatched CHIX Eggshop a \"Fast-Fine Diner\" which is a quirky, nostalgic, counter service–only breakfast and lunch spot with skillfully crafted and quickly served dishes alongside super hip craft beverages and cocktails.
John’s passion for food and business is strong, but his love for cycling is what drives him in the search for balance, with over 14,000km each year (never had a driver’s licence) John finds a way to ride everyday even in the -40c temperatures throughout the winter months. John is active not only cycling races and commuting but also riding for a cause. He formed a team of riders \"The Canadians\" that participate each year in the No Kid Hungry \"Chefs Cycle\" a 480km ride over three days crushing childhood hunger. His magnetic energy is contagious, sharing encouraging and passionate stories to fuel those around him shifting our culinary landscape into a positive and empowering one of balance.
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