Chef Jesse Friesen from Winnipeg’s Pizzeria Gusto Heads to the Canadian Culinary Championships


Chef Jesse Friesen – Pizzeria Gusto

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Winnipeg’s Chef Jesse Friesen of Pizzeria Gusto for a few pre-competition questions.

Chef Jesse Friesen

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Our restaurant, Pizzeria Gusto in Winnipeg is a cozy welcoming Italian restaurant in the heart of river heights. We do authentic Italian with a mixture of traditional & modern techniques, while supporting local farmers and giving Winnipeg a stylish experience. We are about to expand with an additional 40 seats and complete renovation this spring.

I try to cook without recipes as much as possible. Unless I’m working with pastry, every time I use a new recipe, I practice until memorized. I find it teaches discipline & furthers skill set.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

One ingredient which I always have on hand other then the classic ingredients you would find in any Italian kitchen is a specific type of cheese; moliterno pecorino. It’s a semi sharp Parmesan made from sheeps milk, but is finished with shavings of black truffles throughout. It adds a beautiful touch to risotto, gnocchi & pizza.

Chef Jesse Friesen

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

The dish I am doing for the grand finale of GMP is my gold medal dish from Winnipeg but refined. I have practiced countless times and refined all components, large & small. We decided to run this dish as a feature for the past two months in the restaurant and as we prepped the separate components, we involved them and documented of course.

Who is coming with you?

My team consists of my sous chef from Pizzeria Gusto, one of my other employees who is a great friend and chef, who will be leaving us soon to open his own kitchen. As well as the owner of our restaurant group, the operations manager of both restaurants & the front of house manager from Gusto.

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Cookbooks recommended: Winnipeg Cooks. Winnipeg’s contribution to the series which reaches out coast to coast. The cookbook highlights the city’s best talent in the business as well as recipes from their signature dishes.