The essential gear Toronto’s top chefs and bartenders can’t live without

The essential gear Toronto’s top chefs and bartenders can’t live without

A good pair of tweezers, a sexy strainer, Sharpies, and more of their favourite things

Patrick Kriss

Chef and owner, Alo

Patrick Kriss Photograph by Dave Gillespie

Kriss has fond memories of baking pies and cooking breakfast with his grandmother when he was growing up in Scarborough. Those formative experiences steered him toward George Brown’s culinary apprenticeship program. Since graduating, Kriss has jumped from one prestigious role to the next: landing a position at Auberge du Pommier, working under Daniel Boulud at his Michelin-starred restaurant in New York, returning to Toronto to cook at Splendido and Acadia, and, finally, opening the city’s finest new restaurant, Alo.

His favourite things

Leather Clogs
A pair of leather clogs
“They’re very comfortable. I have to buy new ones ever year because I always wear them out.” $125–$150.


The Flavor Bible
The Flavor Bible
“This cookbook helps me be creative and gives me new ideas. It’s a constant reference.” $31.


Black Markers
Black markers
“No kitchen can live without black Sharpies. I always have a stack.” $14 for 12. Staples, 375 University Ave., 416-598-4818.


Chef Jacket
His chef’s jacket
“Bragard’s jackets fit perfectly, and you can’t beat Egyptian cotton.” From $44.


“I cannot plate without them. They keep you precise and calm.” $16.50.

Alexandra Feswick

Chef de cuisine, Drake Hotel

Alexandra Feswick Photograph by Ryan Szulc

The Dundas, Ontario, native cut her teeth cooking under chef Jeff Crump at Ancaster Mill, a bucolic farm-to-table joint where staff were required to work in the fields at least once a week. Feswick moved to Toronto in 2010, but she’s hung onto the locavore attitude no matter where she’s worked: Wine Bar, Brockton General, Samuel J. Moore and, since 2014, the Drake, where she complements classy comfort fare with herbs and ingredients from a secret alleyway garden.

Her favourite things

Something to Food About
Something to Food About
“I would die to cook for Questlove.” $30.


Baby Carrier
This baby carrier
“As a new mom, I’m obsessed with baby things, and the Beco Gemini baby carrier makes my life easier every day.” $170. Snuggle Bugz, 150 North Queen St., 416-775-9334.


Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle
“Call me a hippie but I’m obsessed with my Earth-in Canteen. I bring it with me everywhere.” $41.


Oil Diffuser
An oil diffuser
“You’d be hard pressed to find a time when I’m not rocking my diffuser. Rosemary and lavender are two of my favourites.” $76.


French Coffee Press
A French coffee press
“Aside from a good run, the one thing I need to start my day is a good coffee.” $70.

Robin Goodfellow

Partner, Bar Raval

Robin Goodfellow Photograph by Dave Gillespie

Goodfellow is the bespectacled (and exquisitely tattooed) hooch wizard who concocts perfectly refined cocktails behind the curvaceous wooden counter of the city’s most beautiful watering hole, Bar Raval. The Toronto native has 13 years of experience in the bar and restaurant circuit, the most recent of which he’s spent with his steadfast collaborators, Grant van Gameren and Michael Webster. The trio are currently putting the finishing touches on their newest project, a cocktail bar called Pretty Ugly.

His favourite things

Button-Down Shirt
A button-down shirt
“Most of my clothes come from Sydney’s—not only because I fit into their sample size perfectly, but because Sydney and his team are incredibly kind, professional and attentive.” $160. 682 Queen St. W., 416-603-3369.


Bike Trainer
His bike trainer
“I ride my bike all year long, but it’s hard to get long rides in when there’s snow on the ground. This trainer is my lifesaver for staying active.” $529.


A sexy strainer
“A large part of bartending is style, and this sexy tool can actually make a guest go, ‘Wow, look at that strainer.’” $36.


Lot 40 Rye
Lot 40 Rye
“Since this bottle arrived on the market, Toronto cocktails have gotten better. Whiskey cocktails like the old fashioned or manhattan benefit from bourbon’s less sweet neighbour from the north.” $40.

Jesse Vallins

Executive chef, Maple Leaf Tavern

Jesse Vallins Courtesy of Maple Leaf Tavern

The self-proclaimed food and drink enthusiast has spent the better part of the last two decades cooking in some of the city’s best restaurants: Splendido, the Saint and Trevor. No wonder, then, that Vallins, also a certified sommelier, got the call to spearhead Maple Leaf Tavern’s glorious resurrection earlier this year. When he’s not cooking up fan faves—veal shank and mushroom lasagna, or a cheeseburger he took five years (and counting) to perfect—in the classy Leslieville kitchen, he teaches at George Brown College.

His favourite things

Bronze Smoker
His bronze smoker
“Our Traeger Pro 34 smoker adds great flavour. It also keeps a constant temperature, which is integral for a consistent product.” $1,269.


The Beer and Food Companion
The Beer and Food Companion
“I get pretty geeky with pairings, and I’ve been going through this book for the last few months.” $38.


Riesling Glasses
Riesling glasses
“The Riedel glasses we use are great for all purposes: white wine, sparkling wine, Belgian beer.” $30 a pair.


French Knife
His French knife
“It’s a workhorse. Global may not be the highest end or super trendy, but I’ve been using this one for 17 years and it’s still going strong.” $160.


iPhone Case
A trusty iPhone case
“Some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I have a four-year-old who likes to play games on my phone—and I drop it myself often enough.” $65.

Oliver Stern

General manager, Bar Begonia

Oliver Stern Photograph by Dave Gillespie

Stern has spent the last 15 years in the hospitality industry, crafting Toronto’s cocktail identity. At the members-only speakeasy Toronto Temperance Society, he amassed a cult following with a Prohibition-era menu of delicately mixed potions featuring flowery infusions. Earlier this year, comfort-food king Anthony Rose scooped him up to manage the Annex’s hottest new spot, Bar Begonia, where Stern now oversees operations alongside bar manager Veronica Saye and manages a cocktail menu that changes with the seasons.

His favourite things

Cheater Tin
A cheater tin shaker
“This 18-ounce tin replaces the glass in a standard Boston shaker; it’s lighter and has a better connection.” $8.

Daily Planner
A daily planner
“Creating daily checklists helps keep me organized, and this is my go-to.” From $10. Hanji Paper and Gifts, 619 Bloor St. W., 647-349-2095.


Tide to Go
“For both myself and my guests. It can get messy working in a restaurant.” $10 for three. Walmart, 900 Dufferin St., 416-537-2561.


Double-Hinge Wine Crank
A double-hinge wine crank
“I upgraded the waiter’s standard corkscrew to a slightly beefed-up aluminum version.” $2.


Kona Paddy Wagon Bike
His Kona Paddy Wagon Bike
“My bike is nothing fancy, but it’s reliable. It takes 45 minutes off my daily commute, and it makes running errands a little more enjoyable.” $679–$999. Sweet Pete’s, 1204 Bloor St. W., 416-533-4481,