Cooking show celebrity Ken Kostick dies

Ken Kostick, best known as one of the sassy hosts of TV cooking show What's for Dinner, has died, his partner says.

Ken Kostick, best known as one of the sassy hosts of the TV cooking show What's for Dinner, has died, his business manager and partner said.

The cookbook author and TV entertainer died in Toronto on Thursday afternoon, Desi Cabrera said in a statement posted online.

Kostick suffered acute pancreatitis in February and suffered a complication earlier this month while recovering at home, Cabrera said.

Mary Jo Eustace and Ken Kostick, seen in this 1999 photo, worked together on the TV show What's for Dinner. (CP)
 Born in 1953 in Winnipeg, Kostick explored different careers — including in the travel industry and as a fashion modelling agent — before a friend, who had just enjoyed one of the self-taught cook's dinner parties in Toronto, invited him to pitch a television show about cooking and entertaining.

The result was the Gemini Award-nominated What's for Dinner, which featured Kostick trading comic banter with co-host Mary Jo Eustace as they prepared meals together.

"I just want everybody to know he was a fantastic person on TV and off," Eustace told CBC News Network, on the phone from California.

Eustace says Kostick's friends will be organizing a special memorial.

"Ken is not about seriousness," noted Eustace.  "What we want to do is include all the food he loved, like perogies, and the people that he loved, to laugh and share a story about him."

The show debuted in 1995 on Life Network and, based on the pair's on-camera rapport, continued for more than 600 episodes. It was eventually syndicated for broadcast on other Canadian networks (including CBC-TV) and worldwide.

The duo also teamed up on later lifestyle shows, including TV's He Said, She Said with Ken & Mary Jo, and reunited in 2007 as radio morning show co-hosts on Toronto station 103.9 Proud FM.

Other TV projects included Ken Kostick and Company, one of the first shows on Food Network Canada, and Countertop to Table Cuisine.

Over the years, Kostick published more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently The $10 Gourmet. He also served as a celebrity pitchman, including for kitchen gadgets firm Starfrit, and had opened a catering business called Gourmet by Ken Kostick.