Tired of Toronto and the overfamiliar surroundings of your own kitchen? Bored of the way you cook? James Morris, owner of Rundles, in Stratford, has a suggestion. He calls the idea “Cooking in the House.” First you form yourself into a party of between one and four persons. Then you drive out to Stratford. You stay for four nights in the gorgeous, Shim-Sutcliffe-designed house next to Rundles restaurant—all glass and modernity and luxurious comfort with views of the lake and a wee water garden at the rear. For three mornings, Neil Baxter (chef at Rundles and Master of Cookery at the Stratford Chefs School) teaches you in an exclusive little cooking class during which you prepare your own lunch. Afternoons and evenings are free to absorb all the cultural treats Stratford offers—including a bumper crop of Colm Feore performances this season. I don’t know what the adventure costs but you can find out by visiting www.rundlesrestaurant.com, where you’ll also find images of the aforementioned Morris house and information about Neil Baxter—one of Canada’s most gifted teachers. I think it all sounds rather marvellous.
Funny how things work out. It seems like only yesterday I started this blog with gushy enthusiasm for the molecular gastronomy from Rob Bragagnolo at Lobby and Claudio Aprile at Senses. Now I hear both chefs are moving on. Aprile is leaving Senses in September to start work on his new place. He’s taking over the venerable premises of Café du Marché on Colbourne Street and plans a pre-Christmas opening. I asked him if Henry Wu was involved, given their long association, but no—Aprile has found other partners. Right now, he’s thinking of calling the new venture Colbourne Lane, a name with a pleasant English ring to it, and though I dare say there will be some molecular elements to the menu I don’t imagine it will be Canada’s answer to El Bulli. Aprile’s instinct for food is broader and more humane than that.
Rob Bragagnolo is also about to leave Lobby—a mutual decision on his part and the owners’. “They want to suit Lobby’s food more to the clientele,” Bragagnolo explains, “and I’m finding this place doesn’t quite match what I want to do.” Bragagnolo came here from Majorca, if you recall, but hopes to stay in Toronto a while longer, to finish what he set out to achieve here. He’d like to find a suitable venue and set up something with a backer and a talented front-of-house guy. John Gay, who brought him to Lobby in the first place, is now ensconced as manager of Rosewater Supper Club. I loved what he and Bragagnolo were doing at Lobby during the early months of the chef’s tenure there but, hey—sic transit gloria mundi. Or words to that effect.