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Ex–Bar Isabel chef Brandon Olsen is opening a chocolate shop in Brockton Village

Ex–Bar Isabel chef Brandon Olsen is opening a chocolate shop in Brockton Village
(Image: Rebecca Fleming)

Brandon Olsen might be known for his work with foie gras at The Black Hoof and fried chicken at Bar Isabel (and more recently, aspic at People’s Eatery), but his real love is sugar. Olsen’s highly Instagrammable handmade chocolates are currently sold online, but will have a home base when he opens Chocolates X Brandon early next year at College and Dufferin. Olsen says the space will be open concept, which means customers will be able to enjoy watching a real-life Willy Wonka at work. His confections are inspired by the way he cooks, so while they’re primarily sweet, some, like his signature salted caramel or lime ginger black pepper, have savoury twists. “It’s my way of being fun and creative—almost experimental—and chocolate is a great medium for that,” says Olsen.

The chef developed an appreciation for pastry and sweets early in his career while working at Napa restaurants Ad Hoc and French Laundry. When Olsen returned to Toronto in 2008, he started his own chocolate company, but lost the business within five months. Olsen looks back at the closure and sees it as a twist of good fate. “If I was still running it, I would have never met Grant [van Gameren], or been at The Black Hoof or Bar Isabel. But I still had all my equipment, and I told myself that one day I’ll get my chocolate company back up and open up my own shop,” he says. “If more Toronto restaurants could afford them, I’d leave savoury to be a full-time pastry chef and live in a land of sugar.”

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