Who: Chef Tania Ganassini
Home city: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Tania Ganassini is a classically-trained chef with a focus on plant-forward cooking with locally sourced ingredients. She’s worked in some of Toronto’s top fine-dining restaurants, and co-founded two successful food businesses in Niagara: The Norton Underground, a secret location supper club; and Staff Meal Niagara, a plant-based nutrition-focused meal delivery and catering company.
She has made several television and media appearances, including Top Chef Canada, Chopped Canada, The Marilyn Denis Show, and Visit Niagara’s web series ‘My Niagara Experiences.’
She is currently a culinary instructor at Centennial College, and is passionate about cooking for the residents at Southridge Community Shelter. She resides in Niagara-on-the-Lake with her husband John, who is the executive chef at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery.
Coffee, tea, smoothie or juice — what’s essential to kickstart your day and where is your favourite spot to fuel up?
Smoothies in the summer, tea in the winter. My favourite tea is ceremonial-grade matcha. I find it really helps with cognitive function and mood, but I mostly drink it because it’s delicious. De La Terre Bakery and Café and Balzac’s (in Port Dalhousie) are my go-to spots for a fuel-up.
Favourite date night spot?
Masaki Sushi in NOTL, or Restaurant Pearl Morisette in Jordan for very special occasions.
Essential takeout when you don’t feel like cooking dinner?
Chang Noi’s Authentic Thai Cuisine in St. Catharines. Notably, the eggplant curry, Royal Pad Thai and veggie fresh rolls.
Where do you go and what do you like to do when you need a break from the kitchen?
Walking or running outside is my cure-all. It doesn’t even have to be in nature, but that always helps. My husband John and I love to walk by the water in Port Dalhousie with a beverage from either Balzac’s (my preference) or 416 Coffee (his preference) in hand. We also frequent Rozie’s Café in Port Dalhousie for breakfast and it slaps, as the kid’s say — lots of gluten-free options as well.
What’s a regular stop for you when shopping for ingredients?
Bushel and Peck (St. Catharines) or The Grove (NOTL) for locally made, specialty items like nice cheeses, preserves, local produce and great edible gift ideas. The Peanut Mill and Well Well Well, both in St. Catharines, for health food items and gluten/dairy-free pantry staples.
Favourite hidden gem?
It’s cruel to ask me to pick just one.
My nature spot is a little beach across from a cemetery in Niagara-on-the-Lake that I like to sit by when I need a good think. It’s hidden from view, and I don’t know what it’s called, so I guess it shall remain hidden.
Dinh Dinh and On Fresh in St. Catharines for Asian groceries. Lang Vietnamese Hot Pot in St. Catharines is a very good way to warm your bones on cold winter days.
The Diner House 29 makes some of the best food around, period. Their Iron Rice Bowl is one of my favourite eats in the region.
Honourable mention, though not in Niagara: Summit Garden’s Summit Garden Chinese Cuisine’s dim sum in Mississauga is a death row meal and I crave it weekly.
Author: Tiffany Mayer
Follow her on Instagram: @eatingniagara