Cooking With FLARE

Cooking With FLARE: Meet Ivana Raca, Rock Star Chef

After eight years as the only female chef in Toronto über-restaurateur Mark McEwan’s kitchens, Ivana Raca opened Raca Café & Bar. Here, she shares her recipe for a killer fall salad and answers our food Qs

cooking with flare


You worked with all dudes before opening your own place. How did you end up with a 100 percent female crew?
I’m very keen on attention to detail, and when I was hiring staff, those with the best attention to detail happened to be women. But never in a million years did I think I’d end up with a staff of nine girls.

What’s your go-to kitchen tool?
A wooden spoon. I’m also a big fan of tongs—they never leave my hand. And a fish spatula.

What do you wish someone else would cook for you?
I would love it if someone made me a risotto that’s better than mine.

What’s a dish you can make with your eyes closed?

How do you mark the end of a long, long shift?
I love chocolate at the end of the night—or a cocktail. My favourite is the Last Word: gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice.

What’s your trashy fast-food order?
The spicy chicken strips with a biscuit and mashed potatoes from Popeyes. Gets the job done.

What’s the best part of owning your own restaurant?
Having someone walk out and say that was the best meal they had ever had.

Video Credits:
Directors/Photographers: Saty + Pratha
Styling: Corey Ng
Hair & Makeup: Tami El Sombati, M.A.C.
Dress, 3.1 Phillip Lim. Necklace and Bracelet, both Cuchara.
Contributing Editor: Danielle Groen
Acting Managing Digital Editor: Andrea Miller

cooking with FLARE

(Photo: Saty + Pratha)

Ivana’s Beet Carpaccio Salad

6 red beets
1⁄2 cup finely diced butternut squash
Salt and white pepper
1⁄4 cup walnut halves
4 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp walnut oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1⁄4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2/3 cup grated truffle pecorino cheese
1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds
Small handful micro greens, such as spicy mix or cress
1 mint sprig

Cover beets with water in a medium-sized pan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium and simmer until beets are cooked, 30 to 40 minutes. Place beets in cold water. Wearing gloves, peel beets and refrigerate until cool. Slice beets—the thinner, the better. (A mandolin helps.)

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Lightly coat squash in some canola oil on a baking tray and season with salt and white pepper. Place walnuts on another tray. Roast both for 15 minutes. Crush walnuts.
In a medium bowl, add maple syrup, red-wine vinegar, walnut oil and garlic. Slowly whisk in canola oil and extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble, fan beets over plate. Pour on dressing and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Add cheese, squash, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. Garnish with micro greens and mint.

Serves 4

More Cooking With FLARE:
Ela’s Beet Risotto
Lauren Toyota’s Vegan Cheesecake
Juliana’s Blood Orange Sipper
Meet Hunky Chef Michael Hunter
Meghan Markle’s Apple Butter Toast
Joy McCarthy’s Chia Strawberry Pudding
Tara O’Brady’s Rhubarb-Rose Gimlet

Heidi and Claudia’s Blueberry Pie