Buzzing with anticipation, Toronto eagerly awaited the opening of the Assembly Chef’s Hall. It seemed like the “who’s who” of restaurateurs were involved and everyone else wanted to be.
Finally, the grand reveal, and voila: it is ba-rilliant!
Picture the Marché concept with each food station as a completely different restaurant and cuisine, set within a warm, rustic environment showcasing local artists. A panoply of Toronto chefs are on hand representing the Toronto Style. (For the full list, see below.) There’s a full scale bar; a coffee station; a pastry shop; Mexican, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Barbeque; and all prepared by the top chefs in the city, hungry to cook.
It’s like a Chef’s Gym in which each chef is training and working out their recipes on a small-scale whilst interacting with other chefs in healthy competition and camaraderie. For example Chefs Jackie Lin and Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga of Shoushin can be found at Shari composing beautiful bowls of chirashi, and at Tachi, the stand-up sushi bar, neatly tucked away for added mystique. A few paces away Chef Nick Liu of Dailo is creating delectable crispy Peking glazed confit duck wing pancakes; Chef Elia Herrera is delicately braising lamb shoulder to be set on her handmade corn tortilla with a kick and a splash of ancho adobo and salsa verde cruda; and Chef Garth Legree is harmonizing lobster and Acadian Sturgeon caviar with Arborio rice for a beautiful risotto.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The structure and cost margins for restaurateurs defy the current trend of hamstringing restaurants every which way possible; and for diners it encapsulates the Toronto dining scene and the Toronto style in one hip location that is sure to become the hottest event space in the city. There is direct interaction with each chef, a relaxed environment in which to try something new and, better than a club membership or coffee shop, we can sit here all day sipping and savouring in a sophisticated space and at our own pace within the theatre and hum of chefs at work.
So where did this idea come from? Andreas Antoniou. His Toronto restaurants, Los Calibris (Mexican), Volos (Greek) and Little Anthony’s (Italian) have all methodically built up loyal followings. With Assembly, Antoniou has taken his business acumen to another level, and dared to do something truly great for the city of Toronto that does not exist anywhere else. A destination in and of itself, Assembly is located in the financial district within walking distance of the theatre district, the opera, city hall and…parking. Everything about it is smart. Antoniou has vaulted to the forefront of Toronto’s restaurateurs and laid down the gauntlet for an innovative dining experience. If this does well, and no doubt it will, don’t be surprised if, after tourists and entrepreneurs from across North America descend on this new dining agora, we see “Chef’s Assembly Halls” popping up in every major city across the continent. But remember, it was assembled in Toronto first!
For more info check out: Assembly Chef’s Hall (111 Richmond St. W.)
Reyna, Chef Adam Ryan
(Shoushin)Tachi, Shari, Chef Jackie Lin, Chef Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga
Mira Mira, Chef Amira Becarevic
Ramen Isshin, Chef Koji Zenimaru
Bluenose Lobster, Chef Garth Legree
The Good Son, Chef Vittorio Colacitti
Dailo, Chef Nick Liu
Colibri, Chef Elia Herrera
Resto Boemo, Chef Ivana Raca
Cherry Street BBQ, Pitmaster Lawrence La Pianta
Love Chix, Chef Paul Marshall
Little Khao, Chef Chantana Srisomphan
Hisbiscus, Chefs Andrey Malkov and Elena Malkova
Short & Sweet Bakeshop, Pastry Chefs Ness & Orli Levy
Bulldog Coffee, Barista Stuart Ross
Nutbar, Nutritionist Kate Taylor Martin
Tokyo Smoke, Barista Blair Hammond
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Associate Publisher and Executive Editor of DINE and Destinations magazine.