You may recognize Food Network star, Corbin Tomaszeski, from the shows Dinner Party Wars and Restaurant Takeover, or previously at Holt’s Cafe. The Executive Chef’s next culinary adventure begins at his newest restaurant, “Savoury”, a Chef’s Table meets private dining experience that features a “chef’s choice” menu – based on local and seasonal ingredients. The 10-seater restaurant is tucked away in an elusive and intimate space besides a banquet hall and the largest kitchen in the Westin Harbour Castle.
Corbin Tomaszeski describes what he brought to life in his vision of Savoury:
How does Savoury compare to a Chef’s Table experience?
Many of you are familiar with the old Chef’s Table. Kitchens back in the day were the domain of us chefs were we didn’t allow anyone from the outside, were not allowed in our workspace or turf. That’s because of the militant style of how kitchens were run. We’re very secretive of what we want and we don’t want anybody else to know what we’re doing. We just want to be chained to the stove and not focus too much on the guest experience outside of the kitchen. So they created Chef’s Table and started letting people in. It become so popular that it became overly commercialized and no long special. What could we do? We wanted to do the next version of Chef’s Table and that’s where this room is inspired from. So it’s like a Chef’s Table but more of an extension of chef, sous-chefs, what we do at home and what we do work.
How did you come up with the setup of the restaurant?
This room was established because it was a banquet finishing kitchen, with a big banquet behind it. We wanted to do something nicer. Yes you’re in a 1000 room hotel. You got one of the largest kitchens in the hotel next to you that services every outlet in it. You have banquet space surrounding you, and you’re right by the lake, but you’re in a room that is very casual with a little upscale-ness in a sense that it’s not stuffy, not formal, no white tablecloths. And I wanted that on purpose, because if I were to have you in my home, that’s the experience I want my guests to have. So let’s pretend the Westin Harbour Castle is Chef Corbin’s house and I just happen to have 1000 bedrooms. This is meant to be a room that is comfortable, easy, relaxing, [for a] fantastic food experience.
What is your cooking philosophy?
I want to tap into the experience based on food which is why I got into food to begin with. I was a little boy; I grew up on a farm in Alberta and I learned that at an early age that when you cook, people just show up. You share conversations and create a memorable time because of food. There’s only 2 things in life that do that (discarding facebook of course), but that’s music and food, without borders everyone shares and it’s usually an emotional trigger that gets to people. You smell something that transports you back to a specific time, and remember a certain memory with every life experience.
What should people, like us, expect when dining at your restaurant?
The rule is that there are no rules. There is a menu set infront of you tonight but we did that only so you can see it but we never repeat the same menu twice where people can search it online. We cook with what’s in season, what I get from my fish monger or butcher, the mood I am in, what I feel like cook, and the only thing I stick to is local and seasonal. We are accessible to east and west coast foods, but I’m not one of those chefs that say we have to eat within 100 miles, because then we would never ever have olive oil. So there will be some crossing over with that. So tonight we have some octopus, which is not from Lake Ontario, I can promise you that.
Like he will do with all his guests, Executive Chef Corbin Tomaszeski curated a menu just for the night. Our experience at Savoury revolved around 4 courses with complimentary wine pairings with Sommelier, Jeremy Ennis (also the Sommelier at Langdon Hall). We started with a bubbly Peller Estates Ice Cuvée Rose Champagne method sparkling.
The first course was a soup inspired by the spring season made with Ontario fiddleheads. They had a delightfully sweet bitterness, and was elevated by sour-cream-pickled pressed cucumbers. The fresh thyme cream and slow-braised pork enhance the richness of the dish. We watched Corbin and his sous-chef Matt use a pomme purée to hold up the belly that has been pressed and seared. Jeremy paired the soup with Pearce PredHomme Chenin Blanc Cold Wine which provides some acidity.
The next course was Smoked Baby Octopus & Cured Tomato Salad, and aside from Corbin’s charisma, was the most entertaining feature of the night. He exemplifies one’s childhood with the nostalgic notion of playing with food. The octopus had citrus & coriander notes and was cooked to perfection. The dish resembled a mini garden with the peeled asparagus, refreshing ingredients of pureed ramps, cured tomato, and barbel petals and a soil-like texture of the dehydrated black olive puree. We could taste everything we saw in the fun touch of smoked applewood. I’ve been converted to a beer fanatic after trying the Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale 2015, a light and citrus beer for non-beer drinkers. La Trappe’s Trappist was a more complex full-bodied beer as another option.
Going back to the theme of nostalgia, Corbin took us down memory lane of how his Sunday suppers were usually roast involving lamb. The third course was a Sous Vide Lamb Loin & Braised Lamb Neck Tortellini; a dish filled with assorted flavour-filled elements. I was surprised as to how pure and lean the lamb loin tasted. It had a garlic-mustard marinade and was absolutely fantastic. The king oyster mushrooms, fava beans, baby beets, rosemary potato foam were also an unlikely combination but complimented one another in texture. For the tortellini, cooked al-dente, the lamb neck was packed in flavour, as well as the icicle radish which was sautéed in brown butter. With such rich flavours, Jeremy matched the weight of the wine with the weight of the dish via a glass of Mission Hill Family Estate Compendium Valley 2010. He wanted to make sure the wine wasn’t too overpowering, but still robust enough to match with the lamb.
On the theme of whimsical, Foie Stuffed Brioche, left a lasting impression. I loved the play of sweet and savoury in the beautifully presented dessert. The brioche was prepared in a custard royale style (like french toast) and stuffed with foie gras torchon. Along with the vegetable accents of the rhubarb icecream and sweet basil crème, it was undeniably satisfying. The sommelier paired this deliciousness with a tart and acidic ice wine (Peller Estates 2014 Vintage Vidal) to cut through the creaminess.
The whole experience, from the combination of flavours between the ingredients on a plate, the balance of wine pairings, to the conversations with Executive Chef Corbin Tomaszeski and Sommelier Jeremy Ennis, was dynamic and interactive. Both these individuals, as well as the culinary team are extremely knowledge in their craft and can create a memorable time.
Photos by Janey Tso