By Chef Elia Herrera

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Toast and Brown Butter Apples and Pears
Cheese Bread
Ancho Candied Nuts

“The inspiration behind these recipes is to bring back my background as a pastry chef. I love baking —making different types of bread and candied nuts using different techniques.  I am also a big fan of any type of cheese. I always said to myself if I have to pick two items to live the rest of my life with, they will be cheese and bread. One hundred percent. Also, cheese boards have always been traditions back home as we all enjoy them at the end of our meal sharing with family and friends.”

By Ontario Cheese Ambassador Afrim Pristine

New Year's Eve Celebration Board

"The cheeses on this board are world class. They’re sourced from artisanal cheesemakers across Ontario and go beautifully with Elia’s dishes. These are my recommendations, but feel free to use any Ontario blue, Cheddar, Gouda, Brie or queso!”


Chef Elia Herrera

Born in Cordoba, Veracruz-Mexico, Chef Elia Herrera was exposed to the fascinating world of cookery from a very young age. Growing up, culinary exploration was encouraged in her home. Her grandmother pioneered a catering business at the young age of 16 that reached all levels of clientele from celebrities and presidents to Mexican governers and the King of Spain. Elia has followed her roots and has brought the tradition of authentic Mexican cuisine to Canada. Having taken bits and pieces from her training abroad and perfected her culinary techniques in countries like Spain, France, Belgium, Italy and Canada, Elia puts a little bit of herself in every dish she creates. A star of Top Chef Canada and Top Chef Mexico, and having appeared as a judge on MasterChef Canada, Elia is recognized for having the best Tacos Al Pastor in Toronto. She has a strong sense of community both in Canada and in Mexico, having worked with Second Harvest and Eat to the Beat, and created ‘Salut for Mexico’, to support people affected by the September 2017 earthquake.

Favourite Holiday Song: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Michael Bublé

Recommended food bank donation: Lentils are a very affordable ingredient to donate and the nutritional value is very good. Lentils contain a good amount of protein and iron, on top on how delicious and versatile they are.

Ontario Cheese Ambassador Afrim Pristine

Afrim Pristine is Canada’s premier cheese expert and owner of the Cheese Boutique, with over 23 years of experience in the art of cheese making. From studying with some of the world’s greatest cheesemakers as well as hands-on training from his father and some of the world’s most renowned dairy farmers, Afrim was honoured as one of the world’s youngest people, and only Canadian, to be awarded the title of Maître Fromagere in 2013, by the Guilde Internationale des Fromageres in France. Afrim was also the youngest Canadian recipient of the Chevalier distinction from the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Taste Fromage de France in 2007 and was also named to the Top 30 Under 30 food industry list by the Ontario Hostelry Institute.

Favourite holiday song:  Melekalikimaka  - The Beach Boys

Recommended food bank donation: Second Harvest. They’re an emergency service that provides fresh, perishable food to frontline hunger-relief organizations across Canada.

Dairy Inspiration

Tomato sauce and pasta in a black iron skillet, placed on a wooden table

Local Kingston: Atomica Takes Bold Flavour in a New Direction

Once the capital city of the province of Canada, Kingston has been quietly reinventing itself, and you can see it in its local food scene.

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Freshly harvested apples in bins

Ontario's Fruit Harvest is Here!

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VQA Ontario Wines and Artisan Cheese: The Fall 2019 Pairing List

Universally loved and craved around the world, the art of pairing distinctive wines with exquisite cheeses is ancient, going back thousands of years. While the symbiosis is both evident and beloved, many of us find the art of pairing wines with cheeses daunting, an art form reserved for the highly experienced and sophisticated, served to the rest of us on rare occasions.

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