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Sponsored by MastroMD  & San DanieleMDRuffinoBarilla and Pastene
August 22h, 2021 at 10:00AM

In 2013, Danny joined 16 chefs from across Canada on season 3 of Food Network Canada’s Top Chef Canada. After battling it out over 13 episodes he was declared first runner up. Smiles was born Daniele Francis in May 1985, to immigrant parents: his father hailed from Egypt, his mother from Italy. Growing up in Anjou with two older sisters and a younger brother, “it was super busy and I was extremely hyperactive,” the frequently fidgeting chef recalls. He studied at Pius Culinary Institute and fell in love with cooking. Smiles began cooking at the Italian restaurant Sapori Pronto, for one of the original owners of the famed (and now closed) Le Latini, while being part of a rock band. Therein lay his inner conflict: a love of music playing against his love of cooking. With a desire to learn more about his heritage, Smiles traveled throughout Italy. He staged under pastry chef Fabio Bertoni and Gualtiero Marchesi, considered to have been the founder of modern Italian cuisine.  Being so young at the time, Smiles admits he didn’t arrive in Italy with the backbone necessary to work in such tempestuous kitchens. But due to those chefs’ military-like ways, he says, he left all the stronger for the experience. Smiles returned home more focused than ever, and a visit to Old Montreal brought him face to face with rock-star chef Chuck Hughes, triggering a seismic move. As he recalls, “My buddy asked me if I wanted to go eat at Chuck’s new restaurant, Le Bremner. Chuck and I knew each other from the industry.” Now, Smiles is Head chef and manager of the Willow Inn in Hudson.

 

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