Luma is one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. I’ve eaten wonderful brunches there, as well as lunch and dinner and it never fails to disappoint. Executive Chef Jason Bangerter trained classically in London under Chef Anton Mosimann and worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and Switzerland for a number of years before returning to Canada to become chef of one of Toronto’s top French restaurants, Auberge du Pommier. At Auberge, Jason reinterpreted traditional French cuisine with modern flair and creativity, earning the restaurant unprecedented ratings and reviews. Now at TIFF Bell Lightbox, he draws on his classic roots to create fresh market, new world cuisine, showcasing magnificent Canadian ingredients.* Knowing Chef Jason has two little boys of his own, I couldn’t think of a better place to bring Les Petits Chefs on a field trip.
We had a quick peek inside Canteen, and around the Lightbox itself then we headed to Luma where the boys were awed at the gorgeous dining room. We got to see the private dining room “where the stars eat” and then headed to the kitchen where we tried to stay out of the way of the chefs as they prepped the dinner service.
Just when we thought it could not get any more exciting (touring the kitchen of one of Toronto’s top chefs), it did. Chef provided the boys all with their own “toque blanche“.
Then we got down to the business of cooking – Chef thought it would be neat to show the boys a basic Caesar salad dressing recipe. From-scratch dressings are one of the things I am always amused to see the reactions to – firstly because the boys generally find them “so easy” and secondly because they “taste so good”. Two very good things to show kids, in my opinion.
Chef Jason was able to get away with using ingredients I would never have suspected would go over very well – anchovies (he filleted one and made a paste of anchovy and garlic, using only his knife! This was much talked about by the boys to their parents at home apparently!). Chef showed the boys how to make an emulsion and explained the importance of tasting as you go. So of course we had to oblige!
The boys worked in teams to make their dressings – mostly because one little guy gets very tired whisking the emulsion for any length of time and also because the “whisker” needs a “bowl holder”. This may in fact be why my dressings always turn out so messy at home! It’s really so much easier when two people are working together.
It was a hive of activity in the kitchen. The boys worked enthusiastically and were so excited to see the ingredients turning into a “real” dressing before their eyes! Chef Jason even worked miracles and produced an egg-free version of the dressing for one of our Petits Chefs with an allergy. “Just like magic!”
Thanks Chef Jason for a wonderful, whirlwind tour of your kitchen and restaurants. I know it’s something the boys will remember for a long time. And hey, you’ll be pleased to know “Chef Jason really knows what he’s doing in the kitchen.” (out of the mouths of babes….)
*information from the Luma website