Chef Daniel Boulud unveils Toronto eateries

TORONTO (Reuters) - After months of hype and speculation, French-American celebrity chef Daniel Boulud confirmed he will open a restaurant and bar in the new Toronto Four Seasons hotel which will open next year.

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Boulud, the 56-year-old award-winning force behind a growing empire of more than a dozen restaurants in North America, Europe and Asia, unveiled plans for Cafe Boulud and d Bar in Toronto on Thursday.

The New-York based chef and owner of the Dinex Group, which employs a staff of 1,200 worldwide, is most renowned for his first restaurant, the three-Michelin-star Daniel, that opened 20 years ago.

While Boulud’s recent projects are more casual, they are still synonymous with his contemporary, seasonal take on formal French culinary traditions.

“We want to be competitive and affordable and approachable but we will not compromise on quality of ingredients and we will not compromise on preparation,” Boulud told Reuters.

“We are ambitious, we’re not pretentious,” he added.

Boulud opened his sixth and seventh New York restaurants in the spring and published his latest cookbook: “Daniel Boulud Cocktails & Amuse-Bouches For Her & For Him,” earlier this fall.

The restaurant launch will coincide with the opening of the new Toronto Four Seasons in the heart of the city’s affluent Yorkville neighborhood.

Boulud is one of only a handful of imported high-profile chefs who have set up shop in Canada, including Britain’s Gordon Ramsay in Montreal and New York’s David Chang and Scott Conant in Toronto.

The concept of Cafe Boulud will be more casual but similar to its critically acclaimed namesake in New York, with four distinct menus offering traditional, seasonal, vegetarian and international fare.

The new menu is not finalized but Boulud said it may include both popular and classic hits such as the db burger, stuffed with foie gras, braised ribs and black truffle, and paupiette de sea bass, wrapped in thin potato slices.

Boulud is also eager to work with local Canadian ingredients and he’s not worried about finding his favorite ingredients in Toronto’s many multicultural markets.

Cafe Boulud will float above d Bar in a loft-like design with floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking what is a hub during the Toronto film festival.

But Boulud insists it will not turn into a nightclub.

“We’re not going to put a D.J. in the corner of the room to give it some ambience; in that case it’s going to be a restaurant, not a disco.”

The announcement in Toronto, North America’s fifth largest city, comes on the heels of news of another Maison Boulud at the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal.