After finishing degrees in both mathematics and philosophy, Canadian-born chef Daniel Burns decided his future was in the restaurant business. Prior to his culinary-related epiphany, the now Michelin-starred chef’s love of food had remained largely subconscious. “I didn’t really think about being a chef until after university,” he says. “I did like cooking growing up and I helped out in the kitchen a lot, but it wasn’t until later on that I realized I wanted to pursue it as a career.”
The Halifax native traded the East Coast for the West Coast, where he apprenticed through Vancouver Community College and Camosun Community College in Victoria, B.C. Burns then worked briefly at Susur in Toronto before moving to the United Kingdom to further hone his culinary skills in a pastry position at the renowned Fat Duck in London.
Until this point, Burns had trained exclusively as a savoury chef, but his time at Fat Duck began a pattern of strategically flip-flopping between savoury and pastry positions at world-renowned restaurants around the globe, including St. John in London, England and Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he spent three years as the famed restaurant’s pastry chef. “I feel equally as confident on both sides,” says Burns. “Pastry work is very organized and precise. I learned you can apply many pastry work techniques back to the savory kitchen.”
In 2009, Burns moved to New York City to open Momofuku’s test kitchen before embarking on his own venture in collaboration with Danish brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø. The restaurant, Luksus (the Danish word for luxury), is tucked behind a sliding door in the beer bar Tørst (Danish for thirst). The 16-seat space offers a rotating tasting menu of seasonal, Nordic-influenced dishes ($125/person) with optional beer pairing (additional $55). The small eatery offers scheduled seatings, with one slot available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and two Thursday through Sunday.
The chef’s culinary style, which focuses on bright, fresh and clean flavours, has been influenced by his wealth of experience in a number of famed European restaurants. “Consciously or unconsciously, when you prepare a dish it will be influenced by where you’ve worked, what you’ve seen, where you’ve travelled and who you’ve cooked with,” he says.
In the past, Burns featured dishes such as pickled fiddlehead ferns with spicy mustard; beef broth with thinly sliced beef heart, oyster purée and pickled pearl onions; salted plum purée with squab or duck; and swirled bay leaf and carrot ice cream.
Burns’ goal for the restaurant is to keep it evolving and expanding. As a result, the team at Luksus began growing its own vegetables in both the restaurant’s quaint backyard and in a nearby rooftop garden. Burns and Jarnit-Bjergsø also plan to release a cookbook titled Food & Beer, which delves into the duo’s beer pairing philosophy.