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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.
  • bubble tea

    THEY MAY LEAVE , BUT NO ONE , NO ONE CAN COOK LIKE

    VICTOR BARRY

    I AHVE EATEN MANY TIMES HERE AND EACH TIME IT HAS BEEN AMAZING!

  • deelish

    what about arbi?

  • bazt

    Who ever writes these articles are a joke.
    None of these chefs are superstars, nor are the restaurants they’ve worked at. Toronto should start to earn respect in fine dining food instead of buying it.

  • Stephka

    Ouch @bazt . Kinda personal eh? Never knew this was Facebook. But c’est la vie.

    Chef has done a great job of creating a quality epicentre of culinary education.

  • bazt

    Thats fine, I’m not doubting that. It’s the titles like Iron Chef’s and his creation of culinary superstars which are bit far fetched. Most chefs in Toronto don’t last anywhere for over a year, no matter how good they or the place is. Trend has unfortunately taken the city over, and it would be nice to see a chef and his restaurant make a name for themselves without articles showing these ridiculous maps of where the other cooks who worked under him are now – kind of a waste of read if you ask me.

    - If you truly believe in something and are passionate about it, you will create a team who will share the same energy. Restaurants in NY or Chicago don’t do well because of the cities they are in, it is always because of the chef’s behind them.

  • Nieaman

    I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks at a Michelin star restaurant last year and @bazt is right – worked for many places in TO. What we consider our ‘stars’ and ‘top restaurants’ are comical!

  • adam

    to be honest, you guys sound like idiots(nieaman, bazt). Sure toronto life has written a strangely titled random article, but they’re just trying to showcase chefs in the city. stop being degenerates

  • Iain

    When I worked on the floor at Splendido in 2006 – 07 I was always quietly amazed at Victor’s commitment and passion for cooking (his food is exceptional). He was a younger guy with a big future ahead of him and he wasn’t afraid to push on for new experiences. The culture he creates around him is the reason why all these young chefs are opening new restos. I suggest the foodie cops out there pipe down and go and actually do something instead of talk about it. Look at Vic – he did.

  • Justxpete

    Well said, Adam and Iain!

 

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