The Chef’s House is a gotta-go-there

Sometimes there’s something very cool in your city, but you never get around to checking it out – like The Chef’s House. Last night I changed that.
The Chef’s House is a real, live resto run by students.  It’s where the culinary students at George Brown College refine their chops (and if you’re lucky) wow you with their cooking skills.

Okay, it sounds risky.  You have to invest at very least $39 on a newbie in the kitchen, but it’s worth every penny.

First off, the place is spanking modern with lots of light pouring in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.  Chrome, glass and shiny wood all conspire to say “moderne” and good riddance to the dowdy and institutional Siegfried House, the students’ previous digs.

The guy who greets us at the door is all smiles.  Our server is all smiles.  All the tall white hats working away in the open kitchen are beaming. Ditto for the Chef of the Week who comes sashaying by our table mid-course.  It seems the entire staff here is on happy pills and once we tasted the food, we knew why.

The menu is short and sweet like a good prix fixe should be.  You can choose items from the top page (which hones in on The Chef of the Week and his or her top dishes) or you can pick from the standard options on page two.

Three courses cost $39; four cost $49.  You have to choose at least one entrée, but otherwise, you can focus on the front of the meal or the sweet end of it.

Danny and I dove into the breadbasket while Ann Louise remained loyal to her carb-shunning program.  These rolls were hot from the oven with rich, flaky interiors.  An above average start to a meal is always encouraging…

Then the scallops arrived:  two plump sea scallops, the top and undersides butter-seared to perfection then blanketed with a see-through-thin slice of guanciale (cured pig cheek).

Next stop: gnocchi in a light cream sauce, flecked with fresh Lobster chunks, bookended by two of the sweetest roasted tomatoes found in February.

As I moaned over the gnocchi, Danny enjoyed a roasted beet salad (Toronto’s  formerly trendy and now just annoying menu staple). Meanwhile, the fragrance of Ann Louise’s soup overtook the table.  Arranged in a yin-yang pattern, the soup was half wild mushroom and half roasted rutabaga, finished with a hearty dollop of truffle oil.  Rich and intensely satisfying, the soup was making our girl happy happy.

Oven-roasted halibut arrived next with an herbed crust, served on a creamy bed of parsnip puree.  There was also foam, with a cappuccino-like name and a list of ingredients so long our server had to pull out crib notes to recount them.

Despite all attempts, Danny did not talk Ann Louise and I into a shared dessert.

Maybe next time.

6 responses to “The Chef’s House is a gotta-go-there

  1. Charmaine Boismier

    Thanks for the compliment Im glad you enjoyed your meal!!! 😀

    Oh by the way, the cappucino foam was Potaccio, basically shallots, tomatoes and black olives cooked with fish stock.

    Featured Chef – Charmaine

  2. Yes, please do tell us, that sounds just killer. Foamed or otherwise. I will come and try for myself. Can’t wait.

  3. Lucky for you I have the answer! A chef today told me to make something foam you need 2 basic elements, the proper temperature and fat. Plus something to make it foam, I used an emulsion blender. What I did was make my sauce (shallots, tomatoes and olives cooked down then fish stock to cover and reduced until yummy, strained of course) then i reduced it. I probably started of with 2 liters then took it down to about 500 ml. I added homo milk (I wasn’t looking for richness like you’d get with cream) then a couple sheets of bloomed gelatin. The gelatin just holds the foam longer. I’ve never tried to make a cold sauce foam, so I would suggest it be hot for service.

    • Okay, chef Charmaine, bear with us…. I was following you until you said bloomed gelatin. What’s that and where can we get it? Also, you mentioned the importance of a proper temperature, but don’t tell us what temp your sauce was when you foamed it with your emulsion blender. Last, why is this foam called potaccio? Thanks in advance for sharing your secrets!

  4. My apologies hopefully I can clear you up.

    Bloomed Gelatin is simply a gelatin sheet that is soaked in frigid water until soft. I use ice cubes sometimes to chill the water. You want the water to be frigid so you don’t start dissolving the sheet. You will know when its ready because it will be soft and flexible. I would say 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient. You may only know gelatin in the powder form and unfortunately I’m not sure where you could find them. Perhaps bulk barn (I’m embarrassed to say but I never shop for it, I only use it at work)

    Now the temperature part I have no clue, hot would be best. My sauce was kept on the steam table which would be normally set to 160 F due to healthy and safety reasons. I suggest you have it hot, simmer your sauce to help dissolved the gelatin then try foaming it. (Don’t forget the milk)

    The sauce name is Potaccio, which I then simply modified to make it foam (the addition of milk and gelatin) So in reality you could take any sauce and make it foam then name it accordingly.

    Finally I do find it flattering you calling me Chef, but the simple truth is I am but a student aspiring to be a Chef.

    Hopefully this has helped! 🙂

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