GRANT VAN GAMEREN

DINE and Destinations - - ADVERTISEMENT - BY S.PEL­LE­GRINO

Meet Chef Grant van Gameren, the culi­nary pi­o­neer and driv­ing force be­hind Toronto’s Bar Is­abel, named as Canada’s Best New Restau­rant in 2014. We asked him to re­veal his sources for in­spi­ra­tion and in­gre­di­ents, and tell us what’s on his radar for the fu­ture.

CAP­TURE THE ESSENCE OF WHAT’S HAP­PEN­ING IN THE CANA­DIAN CULI­NARY SCENE.

Or­phans cook­ing with or­phans. In Toronto, the peo­ple open­ing restau­rants now are in their late 20s, early 30s who haven’t been slug­ging it out in a brigade-style kitchen for years like the found­ing fa­thers. There’s a gen­er­a­tion of us re­bel­lious teenagers just open­ing up restau­rants, hir­ing our friends and tak­ing risks. Hope­fully, these young chefs grow into the lead­ers of Canada’s mod­ern culi­nary move­ment.

HOW DO CULI­NARY TRENDS IM­PACT YOUR MENU?

I’m too busy to con­cern my­self with trends. Evo­lu­tion is made, not spec­u­lated. If there’s any­thing I’m into, it’s about find­ing some­thing new. Maybe not some­thing new to the world, but new to me. That’s my food trend.

WHAT IS IN­SPIR­ING YOU RIGHT NOW?

Goose­neck bar­na­cles-pre-his­tori­clook­ing crus­tacean crea­tures, su­per tasty. Only in sea­son for about a month. When I sourced some, I was so ex­cited that I posted a photo on In­sta­gram. 48 hours later there was an ar­ti­cle about how these are the “next new thing.”

ASIDE FROM THE FOOD, WHAT MAKES A GREAT RESTAU­RANT EX­PE­RI­ENCE?

Ev­ery­thing you put on the ta­ble mat­ters. The de­tails can dra­mat­i­cally el­e­vate the din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence—like a good qual­ity nap­kin, ar­ti­sanal bread or a bot­tle of S.pel­le­grino. Even the bot­tle it­self is beau­ti­ful; it’s like a bot­tle of wine. Wa­ter is the first thing served at the ta­ble and the last thing that re­mains. So it only makes sense that the kind of wa­ter you serve is con­sid­ered. If you think about it, fil­tered wa­ter or tap wa­ter—it’s only as good as its source.

GIVE US A HINT ABOUT WHAT’S ON THE HORI­ZON FOR YOU?

I’m ex­cited about a new ven­ture I’m work­ing on in­spired by the Pin­txo bars of San Se­bas­tian. It’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way of eating, very so­cial and a new style for Toronto. It’s food-at-your-own­pace that takes tra­di­tional ta­pas to a whole new level.

“EV­ERY­THING YOU PUT ON THAT TA­BLE MAT­TERS. THE DE­TAILS CAN DRA­MAT­I­CALLY EL­E­VATE THE DIN­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE, LIKE A GOOD QUAL­ITY NAP­KIN, AR­TI­SANAL BREAD OR A BOT­TLE

OF S.PEL­LE­GRINO.”

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