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Chef Deborah Keegan

Deborah is an ex Montrealer who decided to immigrate to Toronto in 1983. A hard decision but worthwhile. During her first 13 years in Muddy York, she worked in the public relations, advertising and communications industries holding senior administrative positions. But, Deborah's dream was to become a chef. In July of 1996, she followed that dream and she decided to enroll at The Chef School of George Brown College. Although she was told it was too late to enroll for the coming year, Deborah's determination and stubborn streak won out. After a meeting with the Chair of Hospitality and daily phone calls to his office to declare her desire and commitment, she was in!

In 1997 Deborah received a Diploma from George Brown College in the Chef Pre-Employment Program and that summer worked at Ristorante La Fenice, one of Toronto's best and most authentic Italian restaurants. Deborah believes that simple, fresh, in season, and quality ingredients are what eating is all about, and Italian cuisine had long been a standard of this philosophy. Deborah immersed herself in all things Italian and entered the Culinary Arts Italian Program at George Brown College. Deborah graduated at the top of her class and received both the John Arena Special Achievement Award and The Culinary Arts Italian Class Award.

Now she was on her way to Italy! First stop was a study session at The Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners (I.C.I.F.) in Asti, Piemonte and then on to work at Albergo / Ristorante Villa Palma in Bassano del Grappa, Venetto. Here she became a member of the Association Cuochi di Vincenza. Deborah has also worked in Bologna at Ristorante L'800, in the heart of Italy's gastronomic region.

She returned to Canada in 1999 and worked in some of Toronto's best Italian restaurants, including Mistura and Prego Della Piazza, where she also became a pastry chef. In 2000, Deborah and her partner Timothy Knowles taught Italian, Mediterranean, Greek, Spa and French Farmhouse classes in the Continuous Education Program of George Brown College.

The desire to return to Italy was strong and, in the summer of 2001, Deborah and Timothy developed the first of their culinary adventures to Italy. Traveling in June, they led a group of 12 people to culinary hotspots starting in Asti and continuing onto Genoa, Cinque Terre, Portovenere, Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Parma, Modena, ending in Bologna and many more in between! The group dined at fabulous restaurants, visited renowned wineries and production facilities such as Barolo, Parmigiano Reggiano and balsamic vinegar of Modena.

In 2002 Deborah and Timothy launched The City Kitchen, a food, wine and travel adventure operation. They continue to teach and offer exciting culinary tours to Italy and a variety of other culinary services. In 2004, in conjunction with the Sports Clubs of Canada, The City Kitchen will be traveling in September and October on a food, wine and cycling tour of Sicily. Deborah and Timothy also teach classes at various locations of the LCBO in the Toronto Area.

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