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Claudio Aprile on his much-hyped preview dinner for Chicago’s Grace and doubling down on Colborne Lane

On July 25 and 26, Torontonians will get an exclusive first taste of the dishes from Chicago’s Grace, one of the most anticipated openings in America, when the restaurant’s chef Curtis Duffy joins Claudio Aprile for a nine-course collaborative dinner at the latter’s Colborne Lane. We caught up with Aprile to talk about the upcoming meal, and about the new direction he’ll be taking at Colborne Lane over the next few months.

Aprile tells us, “I enjoy working with Curtis; he makes me want to be a better chef. It’s an excuse to work together; an incredible opportunity to see someone who I would honestly believe is going to be a complete monster in the United States and to let Canada know what this amazing American chef is doing.” Duffy is something of a force of nature in the Chicago restaurant scene, having helped Avenues debut with a two Michelin star rating. The rest of his resumé is just as impressive, with stints at Charlie Trotter’s and Trio, and as the opening chef de cuisine for three years at Alinea, one of the most lauded restaurants in the world. The two chefs have been friends since they met at Charlie Trotter’s over a dozen years ago, and have cooked together at various events including the Winterlicious Chef Series four years back. Aprile says he approached Duffy about doing the preview dinner in Canada a few months ago, somewhat baffling Chicago restaurant watchers. The response to date has been so positive that the duo is considering adding a third date to the roster.

After the Grace dinner, Colborne Lane will shut down and undergo a substantial renovation by designer Bradley Denton (Czehoski). Although Aprile had toyed with making the cuisine more accessible or even giving up the space altogether, following the launch of Origin Liberty Village he’s decided to redouble his efforts to sustain Colborne Lane’s original vision: a forward-thinking institution whose food is intended to satisfy diners with discerning palates. “We need to have more innovation happening,” Aprile says. “I know this is a luxury to have. I’m doing something that I don’t think is done in Toronto: typically restaurateurs with a controlling company will end up closing high-end restaurants and focus on what makes money instead of what made them. Colborne Lane made me.” Aprile tells us that he hopes to keep using Colborne Lane as a testing ground for new ideas. “It’ll sound like a cliché, but Colbone Lane isn’t about making money.”

While Aprile points to Yours Truly, Chantecler and The Grove as pushing the envelope in Toronto’s culinary scene, he tells us, “it’s not like New York, Chicago or Sydney, that have a multitude of restaurants that are progressive.” While he’s still working out the details on Colborne 2.0, he’s considering getting rid of the à-la-carte menu; he has committed to making the space smaller, and wants to change his hands-on approach to one that is more collaborative. The new direction will still embrace culinary technology, but move away from chemical ingredients that many see as artificial. “It’s a very exciting time for me because I finally have some clarity. This is an innovative restaurant and this is what it needs to be. We all know it’s not easy; it’s a very difficult thing to do, but the pressure’s on.”

Grace and Colborne Lane’s nine-course collaborative dinner. $200. July 25 and 26, 45 Colborne St., RSVP at events@colbornelane.com or 416-368-9009.

  • Betsey

    Aprile also needs to overhaul the attitudes of his staff at Colborne Lane who are self absorbed and pretentious. They attempt to make you feel as though they are doing you a favour serving you overpriced, yesterday’s dishes. Having dined at many 1, 2 & 3 Michelin Star restaurants I truely hope Aprile finds inspiration from Duffy, he needs it, he can be a great chef when his ego isn’t in the way. Colborne Lane has been resting on its laurels for far too long.

  • tony

    I been following claudio’s food for a long time and all i can say is that he likes to copy copy copy. Curtis is the man and should not give out his ideas to claudio!….next menu will be curtis’s food on it with a big picture of claudio on it!

  • Claudio Aprile

    Hello Covert Operators, I get profound enjoyment reading absurd, baseless comments about myself from people that hide behind fake names. You keep on hating and following my career and I’ll keep doing what I do.

    Mr.Aprile

  • IENJOYyuzu

    Chef Claudio Aprile is one of out best chefs in the country…all the dingbats that hide behind fake names and profiles are probably the internet warriors/ hack cooks and foodies of the city. I myself have always enjoyed his food and have had the opportunity to eat at all his restaurants way back to senses…keep up the good food Chef Claudio Aprile and let the hacks be hacks. :-)

  • BG011

    In 2010 I had an amazing dinner at Colborne Lane and will never forget the soup! I honestly can’t recall ever having such a memorable bowl at any other restaurant. The flavour of the dish was amazing, but the presentation knocked my socks off… should’ve worn 2 pairs ;) Needless to say that all 4 courses were absolutely amazing.

    Best of luck with your future endeavours

    A Grateful Concierge

  • R

    Please keep Colborne Lane going…I’ve had the best meals of my life there! (And yes, that includes comparisons to Europe, NYC, LA, blah blah blah…) My experiences there have been great because he treats vegetarians as equals, rather than being dismissive and serving the requisite mushroom risotto.

 

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