Category Archives: Restaurant

On changes, standards and not waiting for the right waiting job

It took a while, now I understand
Just where I’m going
I know the world and I know who I am
It’s ’bout time I show it

The last several months have been full of huge changes for me, professionally. I left Splendido, despite being asked to stay, in favour of being the General Manager at a new Jamaican-Chinese restaurant called Patois. A few weeks ago I chose to leave that position as well. I continue to try to find a professional home that fits me, that fits my standards in all respects Continue reading

The Workshop by Latitude Review: cheese and wine lovers, prepare yourselves

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I recently finished reading “The Apprentice,” Jacques Pépin’s stunning autobiography. Among other important lessons he imparts in the novel, I loved how the classically trained Frenchman wrote without fear or arrogance about accepting an American style of dining. Food that tastes good is the objective, rather than strictly following scripted French techniques. Fussing over guests can be overwhelming for them, as well as for the host, but casual American service actually serves to put everyone more at ease.

So it was fitting that just days after putting the book down, I found myself having dinner at The Workshop by Latitude on Roncesvalles. Composed cheese plates are one of the restaurant’s core concepts. Accompanied by charcuterie and a glass of wine (or four — the wine list changes every couple of weeks, so you’ll always have a great variety), Workshop can feel very French and simply refined. But, like Pépin would recommend, the atmosphere is like dining in the home of an old friend. Service is knowledgeable but familiar. The music is soft (typically they play a lot of Beatles) and the candlelit romance of it all makes the place a perfect date or girls night spot. Whatever the occasion, you’re likely to lounge for hours, as I did. Though you may be luckier with the weather and get to enjoy their large, charming back patio. In all, Workshop is host to the kind of food and atmosphere that spurs deep conversation and the sharing of secrets.
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Big Slur: Celebrate California Wines on April 7th and 8th with these incredible events

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Spring is always an exciting time in the Toronto food scene. Moods lift, patios open up, and our many seasonally-focused restaurants now have a full new set of fresh produce to play with. And as aways, great food needs great wine.

Enter the California Wine Fair: over 100 producers and suppliers blowing into town with the first wisps of warm spring air

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Learning to love sushi and cooking at home

I dumped a guy once for taking me to sushi for my first time.

I was 19 and I hadn’t really worked on developing my palate yet. I wasn’t very into dating the guy, either, so when I put the first piece of sushi in my mouth and my body started freaking out like something was terribly wrong, it drove home that I had no desire to have either of those experiences ever again. I made up something about not wanting to date anyone when I went back to school and got on with my life, sushi-free.

Until recently, when I determined I had to get over my seaweed prejudice and sought out the best sushi in the city to cram into my face until my tastebuds accepted it. Continue reading

Clear Eyes, Full Bellies: 2014 at Splendido

We’re officially into the new year and there are so many exciting changes going on at Splendido.

Now that Carlo has moved on and Chef Victory Barry is 100% in charge (and a new father!), we are working to make his vision for Splendido a reality. To further ourselves from being one of the city’s most respected restaurants to a world-class one, we’re trying out a tasting menu only format. A great idea since the reputation of the restaurant is long-standing and our guests trust us to cook for them. It’s the best way to give everyone the best experience possible, to wow even those who were just planning to try out a dish or two. Continue reading

Playa Cabana’s new Photo-ready Resto

Can’t make yourself a piece of toast without Instagramming the shit out of it? Barrio Coreano will be your iPhone’s new favourite spot. Brought to you by the Playa Cabana empire (if it’s not too soon to call it that), the Mexican-Korean fusion restaurant actually dazzles with flashing lights and a dilapidated style that is ultra cool. As for cocktails, think ingredients like kimchi and yuzu being shaken and stirred into your sangria. Oh, and they serve pretty good tacos, too.

Click below for the photo gallery slideshow.
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Destined for the dining room: a profile of Splendido’s Carlo Catallo

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A lot of people couldn’t last a day working in a restaurant, nor would they want to. Many wait tables and serve drinks for a couple of years to make quick cash. Only a select group in North America make serving their long-term career instead of treating it as “just a job.”

And then there’s the rare gem like Carlo Catallo, who lovingly worked the floor at Splendido before he up and bought the place.
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Expectations, Fine Dining and a New Home

I have made the leap into fine dining service, and now I am back to blogging.

Balancing working in the restaurant industry and writing about it can be a serious challenge. I worry about not being hired for publications because they may feel there is a conflict of interest (though Sarah Parniak, an excellent bartender who taught me at the Toronto Institute of Bartending, is killing it writing for NOW magazine and that is encouraging). I have already lost out on a serving job I coveted because a review I wrote for my Food Writing class, which I posted online, did not properly address ownership of the restaurant and someone was offended.  The most pressing and immediate hurdle, however, is time.

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Chopped Judge Showdown: Which Celebrity Chef’s Restaurant Will Prevail?

As much as I am a devotee of the Food Network, I do recognize that there is one serious flaw to food television. Though you can watch the dishes being created, hear the sizzle, identify every spice and technique going into it, you’re not able to taste the dish. Judges’ commentary and your imagination only go so far (the same can be said for reading someone else’s food writing, of course). And so, becoming a fan of a TV chef seems almost silly, as your affection can only be based on their personality and speaking ability, not who you know from experience cooks the most delicious meal.

In an attempt to justify my almost irrational fandom of Iron Chefs Alex Guarnaschelli and Geoffrey Zakarian, as well as Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson, I used part of my recent trip to New York City to visit their respective restaurants: Butter, Red Rooster and The Lamb’s Club. Do these chefs, all of whom are judges on Chopped, practice what they preach? Is their food every bit as creative, their execution every bit as perfect on a daily basis as they expect from the contestants they judge? There’s only one way to find out.
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Exclusive: A Preview of Valdez, Steve Gonzalez’s Highly Anticipated New Restaurant

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The first thing that struck me most about Steve Gonzalez’s new restaurant Valdez is how little barrier there is between the staff area and the customer area.
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