It does seems that the number of ‘global celebrity chefs’ who are unequivocally admired, wherever they are working, can be counted on two fingers. One of those is Daniel Boulud. They love him in London, they love him in Montreal and in New York, and they love him here in Toronto – the gal just missed him, sadly, as he had been hosting yet another event here at Four Seasons Toronto. If he is wanted here, he comes. He oversees the hotel’s mezzanine brasserie, meeting place for the city’s financiers as well as Yorkville ladies-who-lunch (and dine) and also the ground floor DB Bar, which spills out to Yorkville Avenue in summer. See a view of part of the bar, above.
This is a 259-room hotel that is ideal for basketball’s best: the ground floor’s main areas are double-height, which makes an ideal gallery for some sensational art. Hanging over front desk is a gigantic dandelion mobile by local Toronto artist Alissa Coe. By the elevators on the ground floor is another Jane Waterous pointillist composition, a reminder how eye-catching this artist’s works are (having seen so many Waterous works in Montreal a few days ago I am beginning to think I will dream in pointillist style). But then we need yet more art associations in hotels generally. Association with the elements of life is one of the many distinguishing factors between basic lodging and worthwhile luxury.
I had arrived so late that I missed dining, sadly, but I met up, over breakfast, with the hotel’s passionate GM, Konrad Gstrein. The menu had some notable items, say granola parfait made with acai, and a range of kombucha: I tried the ginger and turmeric kombucha, but later read that although kombucha lowers cholesterol in animals there is no medical evidence it has any effect if you only have two legs. Café Boulud also offers a range of national breakfasts, like American (obvious), Canadian (hotcakes or pancakes with maple syrup, sour cherry compote and lots of whipped cream), Italiano (egg white frittata with red and green veggie bits) and Parisien (croissant, naturally, jambon, Comté and an over-easy egg).
Konrad Gstrein has a nephew who is just starting in luxury hotels and we talked youngsters – today, employers cannot ask applicants for jobs how long they will stay, but expect them to ask you, their potential boss, what you will do for them. As Gstrein says, however, he would rather have someone stay only a shorter time but be highly motivated throughout than someone else stay double the time, without the enthusiasm. He certainly gets a passionate group here. On arrival I had been handed a welcome sheet with details of suggested events for the whole month – bother, I missed the Caribbean parade, but I could catch the Toronto Blue Jays if I wanted. On departure I noticed a simple blackboard sign announcing complimentary coffee: now SOMEone had thought of, and made, that sign. NOW SEE SUITE 1001