Tasting Notes | Chef Exchange: Rush and Splendido

By Shivana Maharaj
March 24, 2010

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The Concept

What happens when two chefs who have known each other for more than a decade decide to embark on their very own restaurant exchange? Well, fun and playfulness ensue. CSL was invited to Chef Victor Barry (Splendido Toronto) and Chef Justin Leboe’s (Rush, Calgary) very own chef exchange, which took place at Rush in Calgary. Chef Barry, resident guest chef presented a beautiful Spring menu in conjunction with Chef Leboe.

Champagne Reception

Charles de Cazanove, premier cru, brut was served for the reception, along with the famous ‘fizzy spoons’- a combination of grapefruit supreme, cream, and fizz powder, that sizzles in the mouth. The true meaning of amuse bouche.

Wine Selections

Former sommelier at Rush (Heather Macdougall) chose wines for the evening, and did a marvelous job at pairing wines with each course. Guests were greeted with a team of excellent service, as per usual at Rush.

Wine and Spirits

The selection included (among others): 2008 le rote, vernaccia, san gimignano; 2004 bodega lopez cristobal, tinto reserva; and Warre’s otima 10 year old tawny.

Brioche and red pepper bread

Ever so buttery, soft, flaky and well executed. This reminded some CSL staffers their year spent in France. We wished we could have taken home a bread basket.

Confit Steelhead trout with santa monica market salad

Bright, colourful and perfectly cooked fish (sous vide, and then pan seared). The stinging nettle puree was texturally well balanced, along with the refreshing pickled fennel with fennel pollen. Flash cooked heart of purple palm, honey mushrooms and arugula flowers accented the dish with all that Spring offers.

63.8 degree poached organic egg, with parsley coulis, serrano and manchego crouton

The simplicityand technical prowess that it takes to perfectly poach an egg is one of the most underappreciated cooking skills. However, Chef Leboe illustrates the beauty of this skill. Bright colourful flowers, and the textural contrast of the abalone muishroom and manchego crisp would make this breakfast in heaven.

Sesame Crusted Haida gwaii sablefish with tagliatelle of calamari, piperade, and peanut milk

Sunny and bright, with a perfume of peanut milk (foam pictured above), silky sablefish and some of the most perfecly cooked calamari CSL has ever encountered- literally melting in the mouth tender, with a texture similar to rice noodles.

Richview farms squab breast- cooked sous vide with russet potato gnocchi al burro parmigiano reggiano and molise black truffle

An earthy Spring dish. Pillow soft gnocchi, and black truffle. One must slow down and savour the experience. The squab was perfectly crispy on the outside and tender inside. Well seasoned and rustic.

Duck Ravioli with butternut squash and five spice

Soft, yet al dente ravioli, and sweet, spicy duck, cooked beautifully. Tender, with crisp skin reminiscent of the flavours of peking duck.

The interlude to dessert- the always make you smile freezies- this time lychee and lime. Effortlessly resfreshing, fun and we want to know when we can purchase a case of these for Summer.

Atmosphere and Dessert

The menu of chefs Barry and Leboe is a great tribute to their friendship. When CSL spoke to the pair, their similarities were evident. Both skillful artists, they met while working in Bermuda, where the pair remember the extreme heat contributing to most memorable kitchen experiences. The evening’s dinner was a display of the fine technique, meticulous attention to detail and rich, flavourful food.

Deconstructed black forest cake

A signature Chef Leboe dessert: playful and cerebral. The chocolate cake- was formed using a syphen. Sour cherries and kirsch ice cream rounded out this tribute to black forest cake.

88 Harbord Street
Toronto, ON

100, 207 9 Ave SW

Read more from our article on Rush, in the Fall 2009 issue of City Style and Living magazine.