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Iron Chefs: how the fine dining institution Splendido creates culinary superstars

Iron Chefs: how the fine dining institution Splendido creates culinary superstars
What the dots mean: We’ve colour-coded Splendido’s kitchen hierarchy and charted the chefs’ rise through its ranks
Victor Barry, the owner and executive chef of Splendido, has a reputation for running the toughest and most traditional French kitchen hierarchy in the city. No matter how pedigreed, every new hire—chef, server or sommelier—must work his way up from the bottom. Which may explain why so much of the talent behind Toronto’s best new restaurants did time on Harbord Street. Here, we chart the current crop of stars.


Aaron Joseph Bear Robe Bear Robe spent a year at Splendido (2009–2010) before opening Keriwa, his Native Canadian–inspired bistro in Parkdale, last summer.
Dennis Tay Bear Robe asked Tay, a Splendido chef de partie, to become his sous-chef at Keriwa.

Maurzio Verga The executive chef at F’Amelia, the rustic Italian hot spot in Cabbagetown, spent four years at Splendido (2007–2011).
James Harrison Verga asked Harrison, a sous at Splendido, to be his right-hand chef at F’Amelia.

Nick Liu The chef and co-owner of GwaiLo, the soon-to-open Asian fusion restaurant, was a co-sous with Barry from 2007 to 2008 under former Splendido owner David Lee.
Christina Kuypers Liu hit it off with Kuypers, the Splendido bartender, who became his business partner and GM at GwaiLo.

Jascha Baraness Baraness rose from Splendido bartender to manager between 2008 and 2011. Last year, he traded in white linens for hot sauce when he became the GM and sommelier at Barque, Roncevalles’ packed smokehouse.

Bruce Wallner The bartender at Splendido from 2007 to 2009 recently snagged the Best Sommelier in Ontario title and runs the wine program at Mideastro, Yorkville’s posh Middle Eastern restaurant.

Scott Selland After being rejected by Splendido once, Selland landed a job there in 2010. He left his post as floor captain in April 2011 to open Acadia, his avante-garde southern food spot in Little Italy.
Patrick Kriss When Acadia chef Matt Blondin decamped for Momofuku this spring, Selland immediately stole Kriss, Splendido’s chef de cuisine, to be Acadia’s new chef.

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