Sunday, November 6, 2011

Frank's Kitchen

frankandsean

When was the last time you had a memorable dining experience?

And I'm not talking memorable like, you ordered ice cream but got frozen butter instead, and the server tried to cover it up by saying that it was special maple butter ice cream.

This didn't just happen once, but twice.

These are not the memorable experiences that I'm talking about. What I'm talking about are those experiences that not only take you back to the food, but every single moment that surrounded the food. The setting. The music. The quite chatter in the background. The swooshing of your wine and the bold flavours that escape out of the glass.

This, is what dining is all about and unfortunately, it is rare.

Why are these places so rare and what makes them so special?

Love.

Love is truly what makes Frank's Kitchen so special. Every staff member here truly cares about the food being served. And no restaurant can have passionate staff without passionate owners leading them. Both Frank Parhizgar and his partner and wife, Shawn Cooper have the passion and experience that makes this restaurant sparkle among the many restaurants in Little Italy on College Street.

Dinner began with freshly baked artisan bread with green olive tepenade and sun-dried tomato tepenade followed by Frank's own salami, cured in house, topped with Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Next came a three part amuse-bouche, all this, compliments of the chef.

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After three plates of Frank showcasing his craftsmanship and artistry as a chef, we received our salad made with buffalo mozzarella, roasted tomato and red pepper with cured black olives in an aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil $15.

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Once our palettes were cleansed from the sorbet, we were finally ready for the main course. We ordered the beef wellington wrapped in a truffled mousse with a foie gras jus $40. The beef was done to perfection and the foie gras melted in my mouth. We also ordered the crisp gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream with pancetta $17. Crisp gnocchi, need I say more?

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It would seem that I would be full at this point, but how could we possibly turn down dessert at this point, we had to experience every little bit of this wonderful place.

We ordered the mini chocolate souffle with soft molton chocolate inside served with a vanilla milkshake shot and strawberry sorbet. And of course, who doesn't order crème brûlée at such a fine establishment. It is after all, my absolute favourite dessert.

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For two people, our entire meal comprising of all these delicious things and wine, cost $135 with tip included.

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I have attached a bit of an interview I did with Chef Frank Parhizgar on Roger Mooking's blog.

He is, by far, the most interesting chef I have interviewed. And the coolest.

I highly recommend you make a reservation for this place as soon as you can.

frankP

Me: How did your interest in cooking happen by accident?

Frank: I was an athlete. I ran track and field, 400-meter hurdles. I used to travel Europe, going from city to city like a tennis player, following the tournaments and trying to compete and trying to get better. In between seasons I used to come back to Canada and save up money. One of the years I decided I wasn’t going to come back. It was in between the outdoor season and the indoor season and I decided to get a job. It really happened by accident, I had no intentions to be a chef or cook or anything, but I found this fantastic place, a chateau in France, with lots of rolling hills. I was thinking if I could get a job here, it would be great, I could exercise here, use what was around me, get myself back in shape, get some money. I thought, I’m already here, I don’t have to spend another $2000 on flights. The money could go towards cheap motels where I could stay and wait for the next tournament to start. So I went in, asking for a job and they literally told me f*** off. I wasn’t a trained chef, no culinary background, no idea. It’s like going to a mechanic and just saying I want to be a mechanic, I had no clue. But I finally managed to be a pest enough and not get rejected, and got the job. So when I started, they wanted to teach me a few lessons. They would say, you see the stacks of potatoes, take them down to the cellar. And these are old Parisian buildings, where the steps are tiny and there are hundreds of them. I had to take the potatoes, put them on my back and go down these stairs and then for fun I would do squats and they would be like who is this guy? But for me it was physical exercise, it was fantastic. And I would do it faster than any of the other apprentices and better than any other apprentices. But I was a prep there and as a prep you come in, clean the restaurant, help with the prep, peel the potatoes and when the chefs were done at night you would stay there and clean the entire kitchen from top to bottom. Every time I would finish my task I would go to the head chef and the chef would get so angry with me because I wasn’t following the chain of commands. So, I would finish at 1:00-2:00 in the morning and as punishment the chef would say, you come tomorrow at 4:00 am and I thought great! More exercise! They could not understand. So at 4 in the morning I would come and they would think okay, this time we are going to break this guy, he’s going to leave. But this was a time when you saw all the butchers, the bread bakers, the guys that would smoke the fish, butchering all the fish and you saw everything from scratch. That was it, I fell in love with it. So I would help prep, but I had no knife skills. I would be cutting things and bleeding and they would say faster, faster! Putting pressure on me, but I was directly with the chef, with the coach and all of a sudden, I accelerated a lot quicker by being directly there and I guess somehow they started to take a liking to me. And one important thing I learned about kitchens, is that the person who knows where everything is, is very valuable. So when service would start, even though they were main chefs, they wouldn’t know where the ingredients were and I would know where it was. I put them away from morning to night, and I just got more involved, more efficient, you move up, you learn. And that’s how I fell in love with it, it consumed me so much. That team atmosphere, the sights, the smells, the art of it, it all made sense, for me it was a perfect transition into it.

Find the rest on Roger's blog.

Reservations can be made by calling 416 516 5861
Frank's Kitchen
588 College Street (College and Clinton)
Toronto, Ontario


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