I was invited to Earls Kitchen + Bar's new fall menu tasting several weeks ago at their 150 King Street West location (@earlskingst). In case you are not aware, all of Earls' menus are designed by a group of talented, award-winning chefs called the "Chef Collective". Here's a quick introduction about this group of elites.
It all started this summer when Earls (Twitter: @earlsrestaurant, Facebook: Earls Restaurants), a Vancouver based, family owned restaurant group, opened a brand new Test Kitchen in Vancouver. Although the kitchen is not only open to the public, it asks for feedback as they test new dishes - it is the first chain restaurant in North America to let the public in on how they create unique new dishes and methods those dishes are created with.
(Photo Credit: Earls)
Instead of working with a small team of in-house culinary development chefs with guest chefs and chef consultants contributing a menu item, or with a “celebrity chef” putting their name on the entire menu, Earls decided to hire some of those consulting chefs to work for the company, some full time, some part time, but to have all of them work together collaboratively. Their talents are vastly different, yet equal, as are their positions in the kitchen. They noticed dishes that started with a brilliant idea from one chef could be elevated even further by another, or the reverse, a complicated fine dining recipe one chef brought to the table could be simplified and reworked to make a great Earls dish. Chefs working together brought new ideas, new cooking techniques, new ingredients and new inspiration into Earls Test Kitchen, so instead of a group of chefs working individually, it was a group of chefs working collectively.
Meet the Earls Chef Collective
A series of Earls Chef Collective videos.
These awesome chefs flew in to Toronto to join us for the menu tasting and I had such a great time chatting with chef Dawn and chef Hamid during dinner! Anyway, enough about the chefs, right? Here's a look at what I got to taste that evening:
CRAB & LOBSTER ROLL
Lobster & prawn salad, capers, parsley, lemon, aioli, grilled brioche
BBQ PORK BUNS
Hoisin hot sauce, cilantro, roasted peanuts
VIETNAMESE SPATCHCOCK STYLE CHICKEN
Oven roasted half chicken, lemongrass glaze, spicy peanut sauce, daikon cucumber salad
CRISPY THAI PRAWNS
Napa cabbage, Thai basil, cilantro paint, sweet & sour glaze, roasted peanut
CHORIZO MUSHROOM HASH
Poached eggs, crispy fried potatoes, avocado, field mushrooms, hollandaise
THAI VEGETABLE BOWL
Quinoa, crispy onions, peanuts, coconut and lemongrass broth
Chocolate bar, pumpkin pie, warm chocolate sticky toffee pudding
Earls Chef Collective and the Earls King Street team.
Tapping into the cooking styles, different culinary training and ethnic backgrounds of these chefs have clearly resulted in some pretty exciting dishes in the Earls Test Kitchen. Their globally-inspired fall menu brings exciting flavours from around the world and I'm happy to see that Earls is upping their game by showing that chain restaurants can also deliver innovative and delicious food with fresh, made from scratch, and often local ingredients.
Earls Kitchen + Bar is one of North America’s most successful independent restaurant groups, currently with 65 restaurants - 59 of those in Canada and 5 in the United States (Denver, Colorado; Bellevue, Washington; Miami, Florida; Boston, Mass.). On September 10th Earls opened their first location in Boston, Massachusetts (Assembly Row, Somerville) and in 2015 open in both Washington, DC and Chicago, Illinois. Earls head office is located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Awarded as a “Top 50 Employer”, Earls Kitchen + Bar employs about 7,000 employees.
*This meal was complimentary. The opinions and views expressed on this post are my own*