In short order, Cory Vitiello has become a culinary celebrity in Toronto. The renowned chef has received considerable recognition for his two restaurants, the Harbord Room and THR & Co. (the Harbord Room’s more spacious offshoot). Both of these eateries have topped varied lists of best new restaurants, not to mention the Harbord Room placed on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the best worldwide hotspots. Vitiello has appeared on morning shows, talk shows and even in a TV movie called Pop-Up Gourmet. Later this fall, he will also be appearing on Food Network’s new competition show, Chef in Your Ear.
Vitiello got his culinary start early on, taking his first job at the age of 15 in a restaurant in his home town of Brantford, Ont. “I found a natural home in kitchens from a young age,” he recalls. “I liked the camaraderie, the action, the intensity.”
Hungry for more, at the age of 17, Vitiello applied to Ontario’s Stratford Chefs School. Though he was initially turned down because of his age, he returned to the kitchen and was accepted at the school a year later.
The following summer the chef moved to Toronto where his first restaurant destination was Scaramouche. “I knocked on the back door of Scaramouche because — coming from Brantford — I only had [read] Gourmet magazine and at the time they were doing a top restaurants in Canada list and Scaramouche was number 1,” recalls the chef.
He went on to spend four years under the tutelage of respected chef/owner Keith Froggett before jetting off to work in Australia for a year. Following his return, Vitiello became executive sous chef at the Drake Hotel, working there for several years before opening his first restaurant, the Harbord Room, and its sister resto THR & Co. five years later. The intimate Harbord Room attracts many visiting celebrities with its contemporary/eclectic offerings including a warm octopus salad ($13) and a dry-aged beef burger ($19) that has topped Toronto Life’s list of the city’s best burgers multiple times.
Vitiello has now ventured into the realm of quick-service with the opening of Flock Rotisserie + Greens in Toronto’s entertainment district this June. Inspired by the kind of lunch fare Vitiello himself craves, the new restaurant is centered on the idea of simply prepared ingredients coming together to form quick, cravable, yet healthy meals. “Our motto is ‘delicious food that’s pretty good for you,’” he says.
Vitiello describes his culinary style as “rustic-organic,” influenced by the food he was raised on. “My Italian grandparents were quite involved. They made their own wine, their own sausages and their vegetables came from their garden; that was an early insight into what real food was for me.”
Flock’s menu offers chef-inspired grab-and-go creations such as a pulled chicken sandwich with beet and apple horseradish, crushed avocado, crispy onions, tomato, lettuce and Dijon mayo ($8); and of course, rotisserie chicken is the star attraction, available whole ($17), half ($9), leg ($5) or breast ($6).
Moving forward, Vitiello says he’s not looking to add any more restaurants to the stable anytime soon, but he does see the possibility for new Flock locations. The plan is to focus on maintaining the levels of success being experienced at the Harbord Room and THR & Co. while building the Flock brand.
Volume 48, Number 6