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Iron Chefs: how the fine dining institution Splendido creates culinary superstars

Iron Chefs: Splendido

What the dots mean: We’ve colour-coded Splendido’s kitchen hierarchy and charted the chefs’ rise through its ranks

Victor Barry, the owner and executive chef of Splendido, has a reputation for running the toughest and most traditional French kitchen hierarchy in the city. No matter how pedigreed, every new hire—chef, server or sommelier—must work his way up from the bottom. Which may explain why so much of the talent behind Toronto’s best new restaurants did time on Harbord Street. Here, we chart the current crop of stars.


Aaron Joseph Bear Robe
Aaron Joseph Bear Robe
Bear Robe spent a year at Splendido (2009–2010) before opening Keriwa,
his Native Canadian–inspired bistro in Parkdale, last summer.

Dennis Tay
Dennis Tay
Bear Robe asked Tay, a Splendido
chef de partie, to become his sous-chef
at Keriwa.

Maurzio Verga
Maurzio Verga
The executive chef at F’Amelia, the rustic Italian hot spot in Cabbagetown, spent four years at Splendido (2007–2011).

James Harrison
James Harrison
Verga asked Harrison, a sous at Splendido,
to be his right-hand chef at F’Amelia.

Nick Liu
Nick Liu
The chef and co-owner of GwaiLo, the soon-to-open Asian fusion restaurant, was a co-sous with Barry from 2007 to 2008 under former Splendido owner David Lee.

Christina Kuypers
Christina Kuypers
Liu hit it off with Kuypers, the Splendido
bartender, who became his business partner
and GM at GwaiLo.

Jascha Baraness
Jascha Baraness
Baraness rose from Splendido bartender to manager between 2008 and 2011. Last year, he traded in white linens for hot sauce when he became the GM and sommelier at Barque, Roncevalles’ packed smokehouse.

Bruce Wallner
Bruce Wallner
The bartender at Splendido from 2007 to 2009 recently snagged the Best Sommelier in Ontario title and runs the wine program at Mideastro, Yorkville’s posh Middle Eastern restaurant.

Scott Selland
Scott Selland
After being rejected by Splendido once, Selland landed a job there in 2010. He left his post as floor captain in April 2011 to open Acadia, his avante-garde southern food spot in Little Italy.
Patrick Kriss
Patrick Kriss
When Acadia chef Matt Blondin decamped for Momofuku this spring, Selland immediately stole Kriss, Splendido’s chef de cuisine, to be Acadia’s new chef.