Julian Bentivegna, all of 26 years old, is the youngest head chef on this list. By several years. He’s also one of the most ambitious and artistic. Everything he conceives for his jewel box of a restaurant is mind-bogglingly intricate and very, very pretty. You’ll be one of 10 diners facing a counter where Bentivegna and his assistant chefs prepare your 10-course tasting menu (the source of the restaurant’s name should be coming clear). He’s also admirably principled: there’s an emphasis on sustainable seafood and seasonal produce, and a strident avoidance of food waste (what isn’t used that day gets pickled or preserved or upcycled in some other inventive manner). The night might include scallop crudo in a Thai-style curry; a sourdough brioche with a carrot butter and a herbaceous purée of pickled stinging nettles; cod tongue, slow-cooked and flaky, paired for contrast with the sweet crunch of sunchoke chips; or a marvellously meaty chunk of a foraged lion’s mane mushroom grilled then glazed with fermented apple cider and dressed with a pickled scallion. His imagination goes into overdrive with sweets, which could see preserved peaches paired with frozen cookie dough and nasturtium or a picture-perfect mini Meyer lemon meringue pie, its crust made from crumbs and cold-pressed canola oil. You regret breaking apart the compositions on your plate, then you remember you’re there to eat. Oh well!
Ten, 1132 College St., 10restaurant.ca