TORONTO — Ufficio Restaurant was the site of the ninth instalment of the recurring Open Kitchen TO (OKTO) dinner series on May 16.
OKTO was started by Ivana Raca, executive chef and co-owner along with co-owners Stacey Patterson and Jennifer Coburn in 2018. Since its inception, it’s welcomed some of the industry’s most creative and innovative chefs to work collaboratively to raise awareness and advance women into the industry. Most recently, during this month’s Terroir Symposium, Raca hosted a brunch featuring top female chefs Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy in New York and Olivia Simpson. The OKTO initiative encompasses a Female Culinary Scholarship, which provides financial support to students. To date, thousands of dollars have been raised to support the initiative.
The scholarship is awarded annually to two female-identified full-time George Brown College students pursuing the Culinary Management, Culinary Management (Integrated Learning) and Culinary Skills programs that demonstrate academic excellence, passion and dedication to the culinary industry.
Last week’s dinner featured executive chef Sean MacDonald from the soon-to-be-opened restaurant, ēst. MacDonald and Raca collaborated on the four-course meal, which featured poached shrimp with grilled baby gem, black sesame and yuzu; burrata triangoli with fava beans, pistachio and mint; Rib Cab, with fried eggplant purée, bone marrow and salsa verde; and a dessert of black liquorice, orange and vanilla. The evening’s menu was complemented by wine pairings from Bespoke Wine Agency.
MacDonald — formerly executive chef of Hexagon Restaurant and 7 Enoteca in Oakville, Ont. — is set to open his new restaurant at Queen and Broadview in Toronto later next month and was happy to be part of the OKTO initiative.
He credits his mother as a source to his success. “My mom has always been one of my biggest inspirations as I owe a lot of my creativity and passion for food to her. She is an artist so art has always been a big part of my life, which I have found a way to integrate into my dishes,” says MacDonald.
Ēst will sport a contemporary and progressive tasting menu featuring a theme inspired by the cultures within Canada. Those looking to get a taste of MacDonald’s cuisine can choose from a selection of small plates and snacks at the bar.