Charlie’s Burgers, the original Toronto pop-up, just celebrated its third birthday in February, six months after the Globe and Mailrevealed its elusive leader’s identity. Having already collaborated with chefs from Canada, England and France, the “anti-restaurant” decided to bring cutting-edge Parisian cooking from Le Châteaubriand—number nine on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list—to Toronto for a two-evening dinner engagement on Sunday and Monday this week. Sous-chef Agata Felugga and Delphine Zampetti, wife of Le Chateaubriand’s chef and owner, Inaki Aizpitarte, put together a menu using deer and partridge that were hunted and aged especially for the event, as well as vegetables and other produce sourced by chef Jonathan Gushue of Langdon Hall, itself a sometime member of the World’s Top 100 restaurants list. We dropped by the dinner at L’Unità to check in on one of the biggest food events of the season.
Despite the growing international recognition, and even branded bubbly (Champagne Charlie Burger, Grand Cru, Blanc de Blancs), Franco Stalteri (a.k.a. Charlie Burger) tells us the mandate of his underground dining club is unchanged. The focus remains on pairing fine food with fine beverages and giving talented sous-chefs carte blanche in the design of their own menus—all the while generating a little illicit buzz. Of the many events he’s hosted,Stalteritells us that this one drew the most interest from the city’s chefs. Craig Harding of Campagnolo told us that Le Châteaubriand’s ability to create celebrated, refined foods in a downscale setting (and a small kitchen) have long been a source of inspiration for his own restaurant. Matty Matheson(Parts and Labour) recalled the exceptional time he had celebrating his girlfriend’s birthday at Le Châteaubriand last October and was anxious to relive the experience closer to home. Zampetti tells us she relished the chance to work with new ingredients, in particular partridge and trout.
Although Stalteri remains frustratingly mum on future events, Harding shared with us his fantasy Charlie’s Burgers dinner: “If CB can do this then I’d like to challenge him to convince Ferran Adria to cook the French Laundry cookbook front to back—at Campagnolo of course.”