The pre-heat is on: start the countdown to Gordon Ramsay’s Toronto restaurant

The pre-heat is on: start the countdown to Gordon Ramsay’s Toronto restaurant

Gordon Ramsay yuks it up on The Hour (Photo by Brian Corcoran, 2009) 

He came, he saw, he plans to conquer. Yesterday evening on CBC’s The Hour, Gordon Ramsay confirmed rumours that he will open a restaurant in Toronto. While the chef is reluctant to divulge details—he’s still in the planning stages—he says that he is definitely looking to expand his culinary kingdom north. Ramsay reports that he’s already scouted two sites in town for his first Canadian location. The date of the opening is still unclear, but it looks like the place will be 12 to 18 months in the making. Why so long? With satellite operations all over the world, Ramsay wants a real hand in this one. “We want to invest directly,” he explained, rather than work remotely. “I want to do it properly.”

“I love it here,” Ramsay said to a packed house at the Canadian Broadcasting Centre. And what’s not to love? The city has plenty to tempt a world-class restaurateur: a lively international dining culture, construction projects on every downtown corner (despite the economy) and better table manners than Ramsay can boast. The Brit also notes Toronto’s proximity to that other metropolis of eating and drinking: New York. Hogtown is just “a short hop,” said the chef, which makes frequent visits from NYC a cinch.

But be still Ontarian hearts; when asked his favourite restaurant in Canada, the award-winning chef showered surprisingly curse-free praise on Whistler’s Araxi. The acclaimed restaurant echoes the sentiment of Ramsay’s new book, Healthy Appetite: keep it simple. Ramsay was impressed with the use of what he called “humble” local and seasonal ingredients. “If it’s not available, it’s not on the menu. It’s as simple as that.” This cooking code, he claims, should govern menus, no matter how high-end the restaurant. If all of this sounds familiar, it may be because Toronto is already overrun with locavores. Ramsay is about to enter an educated marketplace, where diners are already familiar with the local farms and artisanal ingredients. We are looking forward to down-to-earth food with plenty of high-colour personality that can take on the likes of Jamie Kennedy. Torontonians may be polite, but we love a little healthy competition.