Before sinking his teeth into life in the kitchen, Canyon Creek Executive Chef Dorian King was actually a banker with HSBC Canada. It’s no wonder the chef extraordinaire is able to oversee all eight Canyon Creek locations while maintaining high quality food and impeccable service at each restaurant. We caught up with Chef Dorian to find out more about his busy life at work and play…
Give us a snippet about you. What should people know?
I come from a good sized family – one brother and three sisters. My dad owned restaurants when I was younger, so my big brother and I were often at the restaurants doing dishes or hanging around. I lived in Spain for about a year and traveled throughout Europe. After completing a bachelor’s degree in business, I was a banker with HSBC Canada before returning to the kitchen and life as a chef.
What do you love most about Canyon Creek? What makes it special?
Canyon Creek is a warm and friendly concept with a very good food program. Our team members are down to earth yet professional and efficient. It’s easy to relax in our restaurants and get lost in great conversation with a colleague, friend or loved one while enjoying sharable appetizers and a classic cocktail or a chef-inspired steak with a full-bodied glass of red wine.
What are the things you love most about being a chef?
I love to create a beautiful and flavourful meal for people to enjoy and indulge in. It’s an added bonus to be able to cook for family and friends as well as for myself and my fiancée. The role of a chef is more than just cooking though. It’s also about building a winning team, providing training and leadership, and driving results in quality and profit. I love the competitive environment and the fun that comes with it. It’s like being on a sports team and competing day in and day out. Everyone has a role and is expected to bring their best.
What are you most excited about at Canyon Creek in the coming year?
Over the last year or so our culinary team has worked tactfully and diligently to improve our menu offerings as well as improve our overall execution to provide quality and consistency. In the coming year, we will continue down this road and our chefs and managers will see the fruits of their labours. I’m most excited about our team seeing their hard work pay off and the reactions from our guests – seeing our guest counts and sales levels exceed our historical results.
What are the biggest challenges and best rewards about what you do?
The biggest challenge of my job is finding balance, not just for me but for our chefs and managers as well. Our chefs and managers must perform at a high level in order for us to build our reputation every day. As an executive, it is my responsibility to push for results as well as recognize the individual and team efforts and victories. It’s not just about recognizing their efforts in the numbers; you need to be present and available to catch people in the act of doing the right thing and being great. Aside from having others enjoy your food, one of the most rewarding parts about being a chef is seeing people around you succeed. It is very rewarding to see those who have been a part of your team go on to be successful at whatever line of work they choose. Some of the young men and women who have worked in my kitchens have went on to be chefs, executives in the hospitality industry, doctors, lawyers, police officers, teachers, and even professional athletes. I still stay in contact with many of them.
Finish this sentence. I love Toronto because…
When we lived out west, people would always joke about Toronto being the “Center of the Universe.” I’ve traveled to many great places and after only a few short years of living here I’ve started to believe it. Toronto is a true multicultural city, and even though it’s big, it’s a safe place to live. The culinary scene is very noteworthy and fun to explore. The food markets are excellent. The sports teams are plentiful. The entertainment is non-stop. The lakeshore is like a massive park right in the heart of downtown. And, compared to back home (Edmonton), the weather is excellent.
I don’t love Toronto because of the traffic.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Family, friends, and great food.
What are some of your favourite restaurants in the world and why?
The most memorable dining experience I’ve ever had was at a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant named Ze Manel dos Ossos, hidden on a tiny side street in the downtown area of Coimbra, Portugal. We were traveling through Spain and Portugal with a small group of friends when we stumbled upon this gem. Luckily we arrived before the line-up got too big, which it did. It was a tiny place with only a handful of tables and an open kitchen. We thoroughly enjoyed the family-style meal of traditional Portuguese food. The meal was quite inexpensive and the place was busting with personality, including walls full of memories written on cocktail napkins from past patrons.
The French Laundry was an incredible experience with friends and colleagues. This was the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten and well worth the price. My fiancée’s favourite spot in Toronto, besides Canyon Creek, is Foxley on Ossington, so we are frequent visitors.
What’s your favourite drink/cocktail and where do you go to get it?
An Old Fashioned. About four years ago, when I first moved to Toronto, a good friend made one for me with Maker’s Mark Bourbon and told me that it was going to be my new favourite drink. It was and still is; only now I use Bulleit. Usually the best one is made at home sweet home.
Let’s get social for a mo’. How can people stay up-to-date with all your globe-trotting?
Instagram, and I hope to get that handle back on Twitter as well.
Have you eaten at Canyon Creek lately? Tell us about your experience below or tweet us @ViewtheVibe!