A restaurant with a difference

Wining and dining out is one of the true joys of life. What if you could combine fabulous food, great drink, a classy, appealing atmosphere in the heart of downtown Toronto and also help inspire and train young culinary and hospitality students all at the same time? Would you be game?

If your answer is yes, then check out The Chef’s House.

The Chef’s House, at 215 King St. E., is an innovative, student-focused restaurant that’s part of George Brown College’s Chef’s School and Centre for Hospitality, the foremost school of its kind in Canada. This dining facility allows students to learn from the best teacher: experience. They learn firsthand what it takes to succeed in the real world of hospitality. Both hospitality and culinary students spend either seven- or 14-week practicums working in this fully functioning restaurant in both the front and back of the establishment.

The teaching staff (chefs, managers, etc.) here are proud professionals with varying talents who have been in the industry for a very long time and have worked and traveled throughout the world honing their craft. They observe, coach, mentor, grade and provide honest, encouraging feedback on student performance. Their commitment to excellence is next to none. Not surprising when the restaurant is the vision of chef’s school director chef John Higgins. He was the former Chef de Partie for Queen Elizabeth, Executive Chef at both the Sutton Place and King Edward Hotels.

Meals at the Chef’s House are meticulously prepared. All dishes are made from the best, local ingredients. Many of the products are produced in-house. (Try the house-cured trout gravlox.) The menu changes regularly with some of the more popular dishes remaining, and the majority of the choices on the short but effective wine list (which changes every semester) are from Ontario. Even the house draught beer is from Ontario (Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company).

So what does this mean for diners? If you’re thinking that the fact that it’s a teaching facility makes it any less of a great dining experience, think again. The food is top notch and aesthetically presented, easily comparable to any well-known, touted eatery in town. The cutlery and china (Villeroy & Boch) and stemware (Schott Zwiesel) are highbrow and the service is outstanding. As hospitality students learning their craft, the servers are extremely attentive and bend over backwards to please. The floor to ceiling windows, brick and natural wood, subdued lighting, modern airy décor, soft background music and open kitchen are invitingly comfortable.

As an added bonus there are numerous large-screen monitors around the place hooked up to cameras in the open kitchen where you can actually watch your meal being prepared, from the comfort of your seat.

Aside from the main dining space, there is a private dining room that will accommodate up to 18 guests and the restaurant offers a “Trending Now Dinner Series” every month showcasing cutting-edge, reputable Canadian chefs known for innovation and creativity. The restaurant is available to rent for private affairs, special events, functions and catering as well.

All the patrons I talked to say the restaurant surpassed their expectations, so make a point to check out The Chef’s House. You’ll have a thoroughly memorable wining and dining experience and help mould future stars of the culinary and hospitality industry. It’s open to the public for lunch and dinner, Monday to Friday.


Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge

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