As Methodz, a purple jersey shimmered from a screen when he helped his team along their first Toronto Home Series finals win on Sunday, July 26, 2020.
As "Chef Tony", he transforms into a caricature of his own imagination. Armed with a stove, apron and video camera, Zinni uses the persona to tackle some of his own food cravings that come after rounds of Search and Destroy.
Behind the camera are also memories of family meals, which surrounded Methodz with traditional Italian foods - many he keeps to heart and stomach along his eSports career.
In these moments, Chef Tony also keeps his camera on to talk with his followers across social media. For audiences, they're taken into a different side of Methodz, who dives into Italian recipes inspired by his early life in New Jersey. Despite being hundreds of miles from home for the Call of Duty League, Zinni is also Toronto Ultra's "in-house chef" and resides in the city.
His off-game cravings have also taken him deep into the 6ix's food scene, where he found new love at first bite through its diverse menus in neighborhoods such as Little Italy, Greektown and Toronto Chinatown.
CGMagazine sat over a virtual dinner table to chat with Methodz/Chef Tony, asking more about his fixation for Chicken Parmesan while learning how Call of Duty lead him to the doors of Toronto's own chefs.
CGMagazine: I've heard that you've worked up quite an appetite yourself going around Toronto and just in and out of your league games. How big would you say your appetite gets as a league player?
Methodz: Yeah, I mean, I used to be about 65 pounds heavier, and I would like to think that my appetite is still the same. I'm really jealous of all the people who can eat a lot and not gain weight because I eat one brownie and I gain a pound. But a big foodie, you know, I've always just loved food. My dish has always been like chicken parm, that's kind of what I'm known for as the "Chicken Parm Guy".
But sort of during this quarantine period, I took on another persona as Chef Tony. Basically I record episodes called Quarantine Cooking with Chef Tony, where I put on silly aprons and chef hats and I cook in my kitchen. And I put on a bit of a hiatus from that, because I think right now, all my focus needs to be going towards competing in the team, but I'm definitely known as the community foodie.
CGMagazine: Through playing a lot of the matches that go on across the day, by the end, how hungry does the team get across that time?
Methodz: Oh, yeah I'm starving. Definitely, you know, because what I like to do is I really don't like eating much before I play. You know, my breakfast is usually healthy and then I'll pretty much just eat granola bars throughout the day to give me energy. It's definitely not many full meals throughout game days. But I max out at the end of the day for sure.
CGMagazine: And when you're hungry across the league games that kind of affect the way your team plays?
Methodz: Yeah, I mean, I wouldn't say I'm hungry during while I'm playing. It's just I'm not going to eat like a super big meal full of a lot of stuff that's really gonna leave me you know, groggy or tired. Like I said, I just kind of stick to like wherever protein bars or granola bars, I definitely do a full breakfast. I think that's really important to get your initial energy. I usually do eggs and English muffins and turkey bacon. Then after that, it's usually like Nature Valley bars, Fiber One bars. And that pretty much keeps me held over until the end of the day.
CGMagazine: And at what point did you decide to become the team chef? I mean, Was there some kind of a spark or a moment that popped up one day?
Methodz: I think I was just laying in bed one night. I couldn't sleep, but I was thinking of different ways that I could capture the attention of my followers and sort of gain more traction with different communities. And I sort of just tied a bunch of things together. I would definitely say looking to Dr. Disrespect. You know, I come I looked at him as an example of "I can play a different character". The Chef Tony thing just kind of makes sense. So I put on the apron, I started talking with my Italian accent and it made sense for me personally.
CGMagazine: And when you were starting off with your cooking show, well, what were some of the recipes that you wanted to dip your toe in?
Methodz: The first one was an egg omelet. And we did some Rigatoni Bolognese, we did some meatballs. A lot of people are anticipating my chicken parm episode, which will inevitably come out at some point. So yeah, mostly I try to do Italian dishes. I'm thinking of new ones that are a little shorter in time because some of the ones I've uploaded, there are eight, nine minutes long. I think it's hard to capture people's attention for that amount of time. So I'm constantly thinking of new recipes. disclaimer, I'm not really a good chef, I sort of just follow recipes but I'm working on it.
CGMagazine: On some special days during some milestones or highlights, do you give yourself something as a reward?
Methodz: Oh, yeah. With a big day, it's Chicken Parm Night. Always
CGMagazine: What makes the chicken parm so special for you and the team?
Methodz: Me being from New Jersey, we have a lot of good Italian spots, especially where I grew up. My dad's favorite meal is chicken farm, and it's just what I love to eat. You know, I love it so much. We actually have a lot of European guys who never had it before. So at the first home series in Minnesota, we went to a nice Italian spot and I forced them all to get chicken parm.
And the majority loved it. So that was amazing for me to see. But chicken parm is just something that, you know, it's hard to explain. I just, I just genuinely love it. I love going to different places and trying new chicken parms. And if I frequent the same places, I still get the same meal. You know a lot of people like to switch it up and get different dishes, which of course I'll do every now and then. But for the most part, I stay loyal to my parm.
CGMagazine: And thinking back to the days when you were growing up in New Jersey, what kinds of (other) food were you surrounded with as a kid? I know you mentioned some of this before as well.
Methodz: So definitely a lot of Italian food. My mom is actually not Italian at all, but my dad is Italian. So she was sort of conditioned to cook a lot of Italian food. So you know, baked Ziti, rigatoni, meatballs, bolognese, chicken parm, chicken marsala, you know, this, things like that. And then definitely some fish dishes. You know, you got salmon, tilapia, my mom's pretty versatile when it comes to cooking. I'm super grateful to have a mom who's a wonderful cook.
Sunday nights will look something like this: Some rigatoni, some meatballs and some sausage. Some braciole. Oh, maybe some chicken parm, a nice loaf of Italian bread. It's uh, you know, if you came to my house on the holidays, you'd understand. A lot, a lot of good food.
CGMagazine: Now that you're in Toronto more often and you are exploring the food scene, what are your impressions of it so far?
Methodz: Yeah, I mean, I love it. so far. My favorite restaurant is a place called Lee by Susur Lee, it's like an Asian fusion spot. That place is unbelievable. I've been to a few Italian places. Cafe Oro di Napoli has some great bolognese. Really it's trying to try something new every time we go out. And the food's good and very diverse. I like how Toronto has a Little Italy, Chinatown. You know, you have all these different places that you see all these different cultures and different types of food. And they pretty much have anything for whatever you're craving.
CGMagazine: Did you have like a plan to see which restaurant got to you, or did you follow your appetite?
Methodz: Yeah, I have a huge list in my phone. So I'm a big foodie as I told you, so I follow pretty much every single Toronto food Instagram you can find. So pretty much if I'm laying in bed at night, I'm scrolling Instagram looking at food. And you know, if I find a spot that I think looks cool, I'll throw that into my notes. And then you know, I'll hop on Yelp and just search the highest rated restaurants in my area and that's pretty much how the spots are found.
CGMagazine: How excited are you to check out the in-house dining experiences compared to having all of it takeout?
Methodz: Just a completely different experience. You know, the food's usually better when it's fresh. There's a place called Ristorante Soto Soto, that is pretty famous for Drake loving it. And I definitely need to head there. Because, you know, I was gonna order for takeout and then everybody was like, "No, no, no, you need your first experience to be there". So I'm excited to actually get there and get that full restaurant experience just because it's definitely a lot different and a lot more expensive, when you're ordering out.
CGMagazine: When you mentioned that you're cooking for an audience online, have they been also helping you out? Giving you any kind of advice as soon as you look at the comments to see how you did?
Methodz: Definitely, I mean, most of the comments, there are pictures of food that people have made after seeing my recipes, which is awesome to see. I get countless tweets of chicken parm now because I'm known as Chicken Parm Guy. You know, it's just awesome, because, you know, most of my fan base knows me for being a good comedic gamer. And now having that food side of me really be out there, you know, it's sort of like all my worlds colliding. And I love to see the collaboration with the fans, the other pros, and pretty much everybody involved to know: we all like to eat.
CGMagazine: Of course, you grew up in New Jersey and were surrounded by a lot of the Italian food in and out of home as well. As soon as you touch down to Toronto to explore that kind of food scene, how do you think the city compares?
Methodz: You know, I think Jersey holds the crown for Italian food, just like New York does. I do think Toronto food, especially Italian food is really good. Like I said, Little Italy is great. You know, you have Trattoria Taverniti and a lot of spots that are that are incredible. But, there's just something different about Jersey. Maybe it's nostalgia and just being home. The Jersey Italian food has my heart, but Toronto will really shock you.
To be honest: coming to Toronto, I didn't really know what to expect food wise. And I know that it's a diverse city, a lot of different cultures. But I wasn't sure how it would stack up against, you know, what I knew and love. And I was pleasantly surprised by you know, so many options and so much good food and just the people too. I mean, the people here so welcoming and nice. It's just been a great experience overall.
CGMagazine: Whenever you're experiencing some cravings, or even at times where you just want to eat a particular thing, is there some kind of a mantra or something that your brain tries to tell you?
Methodz: I mean, listen. It's always a battle. Sometimes you want to give in and and it's okay to do that. Just as long as you get back on track and sometimes I tell myself, "wait for your cheat meal". It's sort of feeling out how I've been doing that week or that month, whatever it may be. And you know if it's a bad day and I'm upset, I'll eat some stress food. You know that that's just the way life is sometimes. You want to enjoy your life and that means enjoying the food you like, but it's got to be in moderation.
CGMagazine: And typically curious to know as well: What's on the stress menu?
Methodz: (Laughs) chicken parm.
Oh, also I'm a big fried chicken sandwich guy. I will say Toronto has the fried chicken sandwich game on lock. They do an incredible job, a lot of different natural hot chicken places and overall just fried chicken places that I love. I mean PG Clucks and Porchetta & Co. They also do a good sandwich so I'm definitely seeing what Toronto has to offer on the chicken sandwich game.
CGMagazine: So let's say you were stuck in a room with Chef Tony. Or you're at a restaurant with him, just talking to him. What kind of a guy is Chef Tony like?
Methodz: He's pretty laid back. You know, he likes making people laugh. I think that's the most important part of the character. And even me. Growing up, I was the class clown. In the pro community. I'm sort of known as the funny guy. I like spreading laughter and happiness through comedy. And that definitely, you can expect from Chef Tony: a lot of good laughs, a lot of good conversation as well and just eating some good food.
You can follow Methodz on Twitter, Instagram and Twitch while he continues to play Call of Duty as part of Toronto Ultra. The team is also moving forward after winning their home series 4-0 against Atlanta FaZe on Sunday, July 26 2020. They'll be diving into a two-elimination season over Call of Duty League 2020 Championships as it happens on Wednesday, August 19, 2020.