Story Ideas

Top chefs cookin’ in Canada

Celebrity style mixed with local ingredients

25 January 2012
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Bring your palate and your autograph book when you come to Canada – some of the world’s top celebrity chefs are opening restaurants across the country.

Superchef Daniel Boulud plans to open Maison Boulud in Montréal at the posh Ritz-Carlton Hotel in early 2012, all part of the hotel’s $150-million reno. The restaurant will utilize local ingredients and reflect Québec traditions, while reflecting “my own distinct style,” Boulud said when announcing the new venture.

Boulud is going to be cooking in Ontario this year, too, taking over the kitchen at the new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto when it opens on Bay Street in the summer of 2012. The New York-based chef says the menu at his Café Boulud will celebrate his American home and his French roots, with a sophisticated but informal feel. There’s no menu yet, but expect items from his various ventures, whether it’s his famed rabbit terrine with red onion purée or pan-seared arctic char with Puy lentils.

Meanwhile, British bad boy and TV chef Gordon Ramsay has also landed in Montreal, revamping The Rotisserie Laurier BBQ in his own image. The local landmark – now Laurier Gordon Ramsay– may have little resemblance to the former neighborhood haunt, but with it’s fresh farmhouse décor and updates on rotisserie classics, Ramsay has said he’s salvaging a local landmark that “lost it’s way.”

Another TV celebrity chef recently brought his cooking to Canada. Scott Conant, the host/judge on reality TV show 24-Hour Restaurant Battle, opened Scarpetta at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto last year, his first “international outpost” (he has restos in New York, Beverly Hills, Vegas and Miami).

And in 2009, Jean-Georges Vongerichton opened Market by Jean-Georges at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver. The New Yorker’s Asian fusion food has been a big hit there – thanks to the chef’s menu that combines his “greatest hits” (his Truffle Burger and Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna), with fresh, seasonal West Coast ingredients.

Also look for Korean American mega-chef David Chang to land in Toronto this year with two new restaurants – a fusion fine dining concept, Momofuku Daisho, and a Momofuko Noodle Bar, similar to his famed New York eatery. Chang’s new restaurants are part of the new Shangri-La Hotel, scheduled to open in August.

And we’re doing a little import/export with Canada’s top chefs, too. Canadian superstar chef Susur Lee – named one of the Top 10 Chefs of the Millennium and proprietor of Lee (formerly Susur) in Toronto – headed south to open signature Asian restaurants including Shang in New York and Zentan in Washington (Michelle Obama has been sighted dining there).

Alex Chen – Canada’s 2013 Bocuse d’Or contender – recently returned to Vancouver, giving up his position as executive chef at the star-studded Beverly Hills Hotel, to practice for the big biennial event in Lyon. While perfecting his Bocuse platters, chef Chen plans to work with young chefs at Moxie’s, a casual Canadian chain, so check out their menu for new innovations, too.

Chef David Garcelon, a Canadian star and longtime executive chef at the Fairmont Royal York, took over the top chef’s job at New York’s celebrated Waldorf=Astoria last September. And don’t forget Montreal chef Chuck Hughes of Garde-Manger (and Food Network’s Chuck’s Day Off) who slayed Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America last year with his creative take on Canadian lobster.

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