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Food lovers are excited superstar chef Alvin Leung is bringing his culinary brilliance home to Ontario. Known as the "Demon Chef", Leung is a gastronomic provocateur, a successful restaurateur and, most recently, the judge to be feared on the popular TV series MasterChef Canada. He will be partnering with the first MasterChef Canada winner, Eric Chong, to open R&D, for Rebel and Demon, in downtown Toronto in 2015.
With four Michelin stars already to his credit, three for his Hong Kong restaurant Bo Innovation and one for his sophomore effort Bo London, Leung is looking to open a location in North America—and expectations for his next big restaurant idea are high. To meet those expectations, Leung needed to find a location with a culinary sophistication to appreciate his complex and clever cuisine, while having at hand the finest ingredients and highly trained staff needed to create it. He found all that and more in Toronto, Ontario.
Born in the U.K., but raised in Toronto, Alvin Leung began honing his skills in the kitchen at an early age. Working for two decades as an engineer, he continued to refine his culinary talents, but only began cooking professionally when he opened Bo Innovation in 2002.
When the restaurant earned its first of three Michelin stars, Leung became one of only two self-taught chefs to ever achieve such recognition. Soon after, the "Demon Chef" was born.
But Leung didn't call himself the "Demon Chef" to inspire fear. Instead, he looked to the root of the word as a way to capture his trickster playfulness which is reflected in his daring and imaginative dishes. He also looked to his own roots while developing his signature cuisine which he calls X-treme Chinese, an epicurean joyride that takes diners to the edge of their culinary comfort zone.
Both monikers highlight Leung's fearless and innovative approach to cooking that has earned him international acclaim, superstar chef status and a small galaxy of Michelin stars.
Having been raised in Ontario, Leung knew it offered the best location for his next restaurant.
"Toronto is a beautiful city," he says. "It has grown so much since I was a kid. It is the premier Canadian city: dynamic, influential and sophisticated. So much is always going on here. I know it's the perfect location for my new restaurant."
It goes without saying that a chef of Leung's calibre will use only the finest and freshest ingredients. In Ontario, Leung and his team can choose from a wide variety of top shelf, locally sourced products that are easy to access thanks to superior end-to-end supply chain solutions.
Ontario's nearly 52,000 conventional and organic farms grow over 200 agricultural commodities, with key subsectors achieving success in specialty markets. "It's easy for me to get everything I need in Toronto, including specialty Asian ingredients which are now grown locally," says Leung.
Already familiar with Ontario's excellent education system, Leung knew he would have no trouble finding highly trained industry-ready graduates to help him run a world-class restaurant.
With more than 20 post-secondary hospitality programs, Ontario provides a steady stream of well educated, often multilingual hospitality workers who know how to provide first-class service.
"Ontario's education system is forward-thinking and creative," adds Leung. "Students are encouraged to be independent thinkers. A few of my students - and myself included - are Ontario college graduates."
After achieving great success in Hong Kong and London, the "Demon Chef" is confident that Toronto, Ontario has all the ingredients his next big restaurant idea needs to succeed.
As a dynamic financial, cultural and tourism centre, Toronto is teeming with sophisticated diners, both local gastronomes and curious visitors, eager to try something new and exciting. Couple that with easy access to world-class products and expertly trained hospitality graduates, and you have a recipe for culinary success to impress even the most discerning palate. Opportunity is abundant for restaurateurs who look to Toronto for their own next big idea.
March 13, 2015
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All figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted. Information is accurate at the time of publication.