In a few short years, David Chrystian (pictured) has moved from cutting-edge Café Societa on College to a headlining gig at Patriot overlooking Bloor's mink mile. After a sideways deke into a corporate hotel gig at Accolade, the 29-year-old chef's about to launch this restaurant season's most anticipated dining room, the Drake. Part of the about-to-open west-side boutique hotel complex - more Cameron than Ritz Carlton - the 100-seat room and raw bar will feature a vegetarian-friendly menu that reaches beyond the epicuria Canadiana that brought the baby-faced chef acclaim. Following the trend toward relaxed pricing and widening his culinary palate to embrace global influences, Chrystian seems - dare I say? - to be going fusion.
"I'm still inspired by the Canadian seasons," he says, "but I'm injecting more of a global feel than in the past."
There's nothing retrospective on the impressively diverse and mid-priced card he's created for the Drake, a wide-reaching lineup that takes in subtle Asian flavours, spicy Latin accents and burgers 'n' fries (with chipotle catsup, of course).
"I need to do new and different things to stimulate me as an artist," Chrystian muses. "And the Drake will embody everything I've done so far." See page 40 for Chrystian's recipe for Caramelized Tofu with Spaghetti Squash and Fall Greens.