BY CRAIG MOY
Last fall the Drake Hotel established a Financial District foothold for its food, drink and aesthetic philosophies in the form of Drake One Fifty. A little more than six months later, it’s becoming clear the Drake’s penchant for a good party has followed, too: starting next week, the capacious restaurant—and its culinary overseer, corporate chef Ted Corrado—inaugurates a summer of savoury pop-up dining events.
Building on the success of a Chinese New Year feast staged earlier this year—”a sort of last-minute idea,” according to Corrado, that came together with the help of GwaiLo chef Nick Liu—Drake One Fifty will soon host an even bigger holiday-hearkening one-off: a Cinco de Mayo dinner in collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef Donnie Masterson.
Corrado says the event was initially proposed by Drake owner Jeff Stober, who’d enjoyed Masterson’s cooking at The Restaurant in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and will take advantage of the chef’s skill at crafting innovative, cosmopolitan dishes inspired by classic Mexican flavours. Pepper-crusted tuna tostadas, and coffee and ancho chili–braised beef short ribs are just a couple of the offerings planned to satisfy Torontonians’ yen for all things south of the (U.S.) border.
Sadly, the Cinco de Mayo celebration is sold out as of this article’s writing, but diners are assured a number of other opportunities to indulge in Drake-curated food events over the next few months. Among them:
• A trio of pop-up dinners (June 2 to 4) in collaboration with Matt DeMille, head chef of the forthcoming Drake Devonshire Inn in Wellington, Ontario, featuring family-style fare highlighting the exceptional ingredients of Prince Edward County.
• A night market-inspired soiree in the parkette adjacent to Drake One Fifty, co-hosted by the culinarians at nearby Momofuku. Corrado says this event, planned for mid-August, was originally conceived as a street party-style affair. While the logistics proved too daunting in this case, the chef does hope a Drake-initiated full-block shutdown will be possible in the future.
Corrado recently celebrated his first anniversary as corporate chef for the Drake’s properties; his history as an organizer and kitchen co-conspirator, though, stretches back to his days at the ROM’s now-defunct C5, where he arranged guest-chef dinners with the likes of Mark McEwan, Jamie Kennedy and others. It’s clear Corrado’s vision for Drake One Fifty extends far beyond the normal standard of day-to-day success: the Financial District crowd is reliably drawn to the restaurant’s modern Canadian cooking and inventive cocktails, but it’s the extras—buzz-worthy special events, for example—that are sure to cement its place in downtown Toronto’s culinary culture.