Inside the kitchen of Cory Vitiello, the head of culinary development at Chase Hospitality Group
Featuring ultra-organized herbs, homemade nut milks and weekly Thai takeout
Cory Vitiello has been shaping the city’s culinary footprint since the early aughts, first as chef de cuisine of the Drake, then as the chef at the beloved Harbord Room (and its spinoff, THR & Co) and most recently as a cookbook author. His unpretentious collection of recipes, which came out in June, is inspired by the meals he makes with and for his wife and son. It’s aptly entitled Dad in the Kitchen.
These days, in addition to being a father to his five-year-old son, Barlow, and a husband to his (literal) rock star wife, Martina Sorbara of Dragonette, Vitiello maintains a partnership in the California-style salad-and-chicken chain Flock, which he founded back in 2015. He’s also taken on a new role as a culinary director for LFG Growth Partners, a BC-based private equity firm that owns a number of Vancouver restaurants and hopes to expand east. That’s not to mention his role as the head of culinary development at Toronto’s Chase Hospitality Group. “Working in a corporate environment can be stressful,” he says, “but the hours are more conducive to a healthy family life.”
While Cory loves being the “dad in the kitchen,” his fridge’s organized deli containers, homemade soups and prepped crêpe batter read more like “chef at home.” “I come home from the grocery store, either Fiesta Farms or one our local markets here in Roncesvalles, like Ko Fruits and Vegetables, and immediately prep and wash my herbs and vegetables so I can store them properly. A few extra minutes of effort will make this stuff last twice as long, so the added time is worth it.”
In addition to the fresh stuff, the fridge shelves are filled with preserves. “We always have an array of pickles, relishes and jams that Martina buys at neighbourhood markets. Plus there are the ones she makes, like her fermented Calabrian chilies in oil.”
Nut milks are also in heavy rotation at the Sorbara-Vitiello home. “We love smoothies. It doesn’t make sense to us to buy plant-based milks when we can easily make them here without any of the weird fillers you find in the store-bought kind. We almost always have some sort of nut soaking, ready to blitz into something delicious.”
Given the family’s unsurprising propensity for Flock-style bowls, keeping condiment options on-hand is a necessity. “I make dressings in bulk so we can throw together quick meals. Two of the dressings I created for my book are constants: a prepared tahini, because it’s protein rich, and Miso Maple, because it’s a crowd pleaser—and, by that, I mean it’s a Barlow pleaser.”
Both Vitiello and Sorbara are sticklers about waste, so their pantry is full of reusable, resealable bags that they stuff with high-end bulk items like rice, grains and spices from the Source Bulk Foods on Roncesvalles. It’s also home to their oil and vinegar collection, where Vitiello believes a high-low dichotomy is essential. “I always have a lot of fancy oils and balsamic vinegars, a couple of proper cider vinegars and a solid rice vinegar that I use for finishing. I get those from Cheese Boutique. But I also buy some lower-end vinegars and oils in bulk for dressings.”
Despite the enviable efficiency and organization of Vitiello’s kitchen, he admits that he and Sorbara don’t meal-plan. “We should,” he says, “but we don’t.” Takeout is a twice-weekly occurrence. “We always have some sort of curry in the fridge from Sukhothai, because that’s our first weekly stop. For the second night, we might grab food from Dil Si Indian or Sunnyside Provisions. If we’re in the mood to splurge, we’ll pop Barlow on the bike and head to Giulietta.”
It’s a wonder that they eat out at all: their amazing kitchen space (designed by Sorbara’s architect sister, Ginger Sorbara) features a vast stone island, exposed brick and massive windowed walkouts. It’s also plastered with museum-grade art—some of which Sorbara makes herself.
“When Martina and I moved in together, we had both amassed our own art collections, so it felt right to fill up the kitchen with those pieces,” Vitiello says. An oversized ceramic necklace that hangs on one wall was handmade by Sorbara.
Even with their regular takeout routine, the family spends a lot of time in the kitchen. “Barlow conducts what he calls ‘experiments’: he pulls out every spice in the house and mixes them together on the island,” says Vitiello. And the place is stocked with a covetable collection of cookware and tools so that dad can do some experimenting of his own.
A peek inside Vitiello’s top drawer—crucially too high for his son to reach—reveals a collection of glimmering knives. Vitiello swears by the high-end/low-end mix here too. “I buy my good knives from Knife on Dundas. I hone them at home a couple of times a week and get them professionally sharpened at the store every month or two. I also have a good collection of beater knives for doing less-refined work.”
Speaking of refined, Vitiello’s pot and pan situation runs the gamut from stainless to ceramic to cast iron. “If I had to choose between Staub and Le Creuset, I would go Staub all the way. I just prefer the way the interior is unfinished. It feels a little less precious and more industrial.”
Since both Vitiello and Sorbara are entertainers by trade, it comes as no surprise that they enjoy hosting. “Martina loves to bake, and we often have little friendly competitions. We’ll both riff off a recipe that we pull from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson. Then we let the guests decide who wins. Honestly, it’s usually her.”
For getting the party started, Vitiello and Sorbara have a classy wooden bar cart at the ready. “We have a couple of friends who are super into cocktails. When they come over, we wheel it out,” he says. “Otherwise, Martina and I pick a wine we’re into and roll with that for a while. Right now, our go-to is this Frabianco White Frappato by Judeka. It’s like Italy’s take on a Vinho Verde—crisp and dry with a slight effervescence. It’s dangerously drinkable, but Barlow helps keep us in line.”