Last month, Yorkville welcomed it’s newest jaw-dropping attraction to the neighbourhood thanks to the opening of Sofia Restaurant & Bar, the latest creation from Toronto’s “King of Nightlife” turned restaurateur, Charles Khabouth. Well known for the opulent interiors of his restaurants, Khabouth teamed up with the talented team at Studio Munge to bring Sofia to life. The decor itself is luxe and fabulous, with Khabouth describing it as “like a little jewelry box” that draws from Old Hollywood glamour and elements of art deco combined with one-of-kind pieces of pop art from names like Jeff Koons, Mr Brainwash and Russell Young (with most pieces rumoured to come from Khabouth’s personal collection).
But decor aside, there is of course the food. Taking an “honest approach” to Italian cuisine, it’s Toronto native, Chef Christine Mast, who is leading the kitchen at Sofia and bringing a down-to-earth and almost rustic sensibility to the dishes that are presented on the glossy table surfaces of Sofia.
After #TeamE7 was treated to an exquisite meal at the new restaurant–where we indulged in glasses of rose, crab-stuffed zucchini flowers, octopus, lobster fettuccine, branzino (and much more!)–we knew Chef Christine would be the perfect person for our latest instalment of Hot Chef in The Kitchen. Keep reading to meet her!
Name: Christine Mast
Restaurant: Sofia Restaurant & Bar
Edit Seven: What is your favourite type of food and why?
Christine Mast: No favourite type, I go through stages. There will be weeks when all I want to eat is Indian and other times it will be Chinese. When I cook at home for myself I tend to lean towards more of an Italian style of cooking.
E7: Where is your favourite place to eat or drink on your day off?
CM: I don’t often have too much time to eat out but when I have the opportunity I love going to Chantecler in Parkdale. It is in my neighbourhood, the cocktails are fantastic, the food is on point and the service by Jacob is always inviting and fun. I always have a great time and it stands out in my mind.
E7: Where is your ultimate foodie destination?
CM: That is always changing. I think right now I would take a very large trip all around the Mediterranean. From Morocco to Southern Italy to Turkey, all of it. There is so much history there and the food from one country to the next is so varied and yet so connected. It’s fascinating.
E7: If you were trapped on an island and could only have 3 ingredients with you, what would they be?
CM: Eggs (you can do anything with eggs), coffee (I can’t imagine a world without coffee) and probably candy, like sour keys and gummy worms. After that I’m set.
E7: What would you want to do for a living if you weren’t a Chef?
CM: Not too sure about that. I began cooking so young and haven’t really dedicated any time to thinking about what else I might do. Something with my hands for sure. I don’t do too well in office settings. Possibly working on boats in some way. I love to be on the water.
E7: What’s your favourite food memory?
CM: My favourite food memory would be the way my Nonna would tour me around the cellar in her house when I was young. She would show off their salami drying and olives soaking with such pride and happiness. I love thinking back to those moments.
E7: Who (living or dead) would you invite to a dinner party?
CM: My grandmother. I would love to cook for her now as a professional chef, I was so influenced by her cooking growing up.
E7: What food trend are you not down with?
CM: I don’t follow food trends too closely or take them too seriously. I try to focus on what we are doing and making sure it’s the best it can be. Possibly this whole charcoal ice cream thing…is that still happening? What’s the deal?
E7: If you were to order for us right now off of your current menu, what would you order?
CM: I would order the buffalo mozzarella. It’s a great mozzarella we are getting from Quebec paired with fresh favas and house-made Sardinian flatbread. The scallop crudo, it is so simple in its ingredients and preparation yet so full of flavour, with just hazelnuts and hazelnut oil and just a bit of lemon juice. Then the veal crusted in pistachio and if you are interested in a pasta, I would go for the duck agnolotti. It is so rich and decadent.
For more information on Sofia in Yorkville, click HERE.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)