Chef’s Corner: Hans Vogels, DASHA, Toronto

Chef Hans Vogels at DASHA Restaurant in Toronto

By Nicole Di Tomasso

Hans Vogels says his first food memory was making beef stew in a pressure cooker with his grandfather. Hailing from Moncton, N.B., the chef says, “Both of my grandfathers were influential in shaping my love for food. In fact, one of them was a WW2 veteran who helped liberate the other’s farmland…it’s a long story. They made me understand where our food came from and the work it took to get it to the table — from collecting eggs at the henhouse to digging clams on the North Shore.”

In highschool, Vogels’ passion for food materialized into action. “[During highschool], I washed dishes at a hotel, which exposed me to the rush of service and comradery of the kitchen,” he says. “This lit a fire in me and created a need to get on the right path for my future. This decision eventually led me to find my passion for the culinary arts.”

Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Vogels joined the military as a tank driver for a few years before enrolling in a one-year culinary program at Holland College, P.E.I. and a two-year advanced program at The Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

From there, Vogels re-located to Stratford, Ont. for an internship at The Church Restaurant, which eventually led him to Toronto in 2000 to work under acclaimed chefs Susur Lee and Marc Thuet at Susur and Bistro Thuet. After some time, Vogels landed a job at Momofuku Noodle Bar, where he stayed for 10 years and became the executive chef until the restaurant officially closed its doors in 2022. However, it wasn’t long before Vogels was contacted by Brandon Farmer and Matthew Tsoumaris of Honeycomb Hospitality Group to discuss a new concept they had been working on — DASHA.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with some highly talented chefs over the years, all of which have had an impact on the person I am today,” says Vogels. “Sheldon Russel at The Church was organized; Eric Vernice at the Bearfoot Bistro was creative; Susur Lee is a visionary; and Marc Thuet executes at the highest level. At Momofuku, I got the chance to put all these traits into a formula, fostering a creative space that also focused on efficiency and accountability. At DASHA, I take the same approach.”

The 9,000-sq.-ft. venue provides cuisine and entertainment, with a pan-Asian menu that combines Chinese and Japanese influences, experiential cocktails and a hidden karaoke bar with five private rooms.

“Everything at DASHA is meant to be shared family style so [guests] are able to enjoy different flavours and textures. We wanted to create an exceptional sensory experience where guests can celebrate, enjoy, indulge and discover,” says Vogels.

Standout sharing items include Wok Rocked Shrimp ($32), featuring black tiger shrimp dusted in potato starch and tossed in the wok with Sichuan pepper oil, garlic and 1,000 chilies; Millionaire Fried Rice ($39) with the addition of black truffle, lobster and DASHA’s own Cantonese chili crisp; and Wagyu Steak ($125) from Mishima Reserve in Seattle, which uses the Japanese Kuroge Washu cattle breed.

“Mishima Reserve operates a carbon-neutral farm which we think is important to support,” adds Vogels. This summer, Vogels says he has enjoyed using Ontario produce from local farmers and hosting the crowds of Toronto on DASHA’s patio.

Over the years, Vogels has proven adaptability is key in a professional kitchen. “I’ve been exposed to a range of managing styles, culinary disciplines, sizes of operations and ownership styles,” he says. “I’m comfortable finding the common ground in any situation and creating opportunities that can be leveraged as a team.” In the future, Vogels imagines a partial retirement on the west coast of Mexico.

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