World-class chef Oscar Turchi is a legend in the making. His reputation as a culinary genius is spreading rapidly throughout Niagara and the GTA.
The owner and operator since 2002 of Savoia Hors D'Oeuvres Inc. in St. Catharines, with wholesale and retail sales in Niagara and Toronto, Turchi offers an exquisite array of handmade hors d'oeuvres that fill a previously empty market niche in Niagara. Thanks to natural talent and two decades of tutelage under top Italian chefs on both sides of the Atlantic, Turchi tantalizes even the most sophisticated palates with morsels that both surprise and satisfy.
Discerning chefs throughout the GTA are snapping up his miniature creations by the thousands, glad to present them as their own, while sparing themselves the creative effort and time-intensive preparations. Meanwhile, Savoia hors d'oeuvres are a highlight at private parties fortunate enough to enjoy Turchi's culinary touch.
Turchi's story begins in Turin, in the Piedmont area of Italy, where he grew up as the youngest of three children in a close-knit, loving family. He spent time in the kitchen with his mother from a very early age, especially on weekends, when, by tradition, Italian mothers prepared a week's worth of fresh pasta for their families. The young chef-to-be asked his mother many questions about food. Why did she do this? How did she do that? At age six, he announced he wanted to become a chef one day.
In pursuit of his dream, Turchi as a young man earned his hotel and food services diploma in Torino. He practiced his art at various five-star restaurants and hotels in Italy during the 1980s, gradually working his way up the culinary ranks to the level of sous chef. Eventually, broader horizons and greater opportunities beckoned, and he immigrated to Canada in 1992.
Turchi spent his first year in Canada as executive chef at Ristorante Giardino at the Gatehouse Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From there, he moved to the Toronto restaurant Borgo Antico, where he won rave reviews; and then on to the Oro Restaurant, also in Toronto, where he truly came into his own as a neo-Italian chef de cuisine.
By 2001, Turchi had all the experience and skills necessary to be the star chef at Toula, an internationally acclaimed Italian restaurant that was making its North American debut in Toronto. Food connoisseurs griped about jousting with bellboys and luggage racks to get to Toula, on the 38th floor of the Westin Harbour Castle hotel; but Turchi's food, as always, had everyone glowing. "Trust me," wrote food writer Sara Waxman in the Sunday Sun. "It's all worth the trip."
Today, more than 10 years after immigrating to Canada, Turchi's taste memories of Piedmont remain strong. Many an ecstatic diner, in eating his pasta or nibbling his hors d'oeuvres, has felt transported to Italy. Savoia hors d'oeuvres, in fact, are the concentrated essence-the reduction, if you will-of all that Turchi has learned, both in Italy and Canada, about flavor orchestration and food design. His bite-sized morsels are elegant, intricate artworks. Their masterful use of color, line and shape feeds the eyes as surely as their flavors and textures ravish the palate. At Savoia, satisfying the appetite is only the beginning!