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Les Petits Chefs visit Luma (Toronto)

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“.

Once we were all suited up, we got straight to work. Chef provided the boys with a few special ingredients to look at, smell and taste – the first one being fennel.

I am sure Chef was reassured that the boys thought he was “really good” with a chef knife.

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!

And then the boys got to work on their own versions. Chef has kindly provided them with recipes and most of the mise en place done…

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!”

Once we’d finished, the boys packaged up their dressings to take home and enjoy and Chef Jason made a beautiful Caesar salad like the one they would serve at Luma.

The boys left, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, all promising to bring their parents back to eat in the restaurant!

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

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21 Responses to Les Petits Chefs visit Luma (Toronto)

  1. cat April 19, 2012 at 07:17 #

    what a lovely man to open his kitchen to the boys like this! the experience was indeed something they will remember and something that will likely influence how they view restaurants and the preparation of our food for a long time to come. well done, mardi and chef jason!

  2. idiosyncratic eye April 19, 2012 at 07:30 #

    Wow, what an amazing trip and opportunity! I wish I had gone too! I have utmost respect for a chef who would open his kitchen to share his secrets with the next generation of foodies and chefs, far more than I would by just his fancy food or his expensive prices.

    PS. I’d love to know the secret to the egg-free version as I too am allergic!

    :)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 28, 2012 at 10:44 #

      The egg free version had some sort of vegetable puree in there. Not sure. But was very tasty!
      PS: Chef Jason’s food is exquisite too. So he gets double points.

  3. Lisa April 19, 2012 at 08:30 #

    What a cool experience for the boys. First to meet a professional chef and tour his restaurant, but then to learn to make one of his dressings.That will be a special memory.

  4. Lori Lynn April 19, 2012 at 09:47 #

    Seriously terrific experience for them. Adorable post. Little boys liking anchovies, YAY!
    LL

  5. Charlie April 19, 2012 at 09:50 #

    Hello!

    So glad the boys enjoyed their outing!

    It is wonderful when chef’s will invite them into restaurants to learn.

    It is so encouraging and inspiring to them.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Is there any chance that you can share the Caesar dressing recipe?

    Have a Joyful Day!

    Charlie

  6. Paula April 19, 2012 at 11:20 #

    I think it is wonderful how accommodating Chef Jason was to Les Petits Chefs. What a wonderful man and what a wonderfully exciting experience for your boys. No doubt they were thrilled with their visit and what they learned and experienced. I’m sure they were overjoyed at receiving their own toque blanche!

  7. Melissa@EyesBigger April 19, 2012 at 13:05 #

    What lucky little boys getting to visit behind the scenes at Luma! And kudos to Chef Jason for being so great with them. And that shot of him chopping is sooo good!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 28, 2012 at 10:43 #

      Thanks – it was a tight squeeze in the kitchen with all those guys in there – was lucky to get any shots at all!

  8. Mr. Neil April 19, 2012 at 15:22 #

    Chef Jason is a star!

    Ahem, I DO want to know, though, where is MY toque blanche?

    Am looking forward to my salad this weekend, Mlle. :-)

    A tough wine pairing, salads usually are. Acid can be a challenge. In this case, the fresh anchovies makes me think of a nice Muscadet (sur Lie) from the Loire. Or – name similarity not to be confusing – a Muscat Vin Doux Naturel from the other coast. The latter offers more sweetness to cut the acid, and bubbles come to mind as a slightly decadent way to enjoy this salad, a la LUMA.

  9. Geoff April 19, 2012 at 17:55 #

    Great post, Mardi. There ought to be more Chefs Jason – down to earth, inclusive and ready to share. Such a change from so many of these self-centred individuals, shining stars in their own firmanent.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 28, 2012 at 10:42 #

      Chef Jason is one of the most generous chefs I have ever met. He’s definitely a real star!

  10. Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings April 22, 2012 at 02:59 #

    The school where you teach is very lucky to have you! Growing up, I wish I could have had the same opportunities your boys are having!

  11. Andi April 28, 2012 at 17:38 #

    I ate a lovely meal there while I was in town for the film festival last September, definitely a good spot!

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