Towards the end of last year, chef (and journeyman) Guy Rawlings started promoting something through his Twitter account called Room 203. An alumnus of the Black Hoof, Brockton General, and the Bellwoods Brewery, Rawlings remained casually guarded about Room 203′s New Year’s Eve event (a location wasn’t disclosed until tickets were purchased), though there was some general information available about the chef’s most recent venture.
As aptly stated on its website, Room 203 “is many things.” It’s a test kitchen and a consulting business, where restaurateurs and chefs can learn about menu planning and development, cooking techniques, and the use of new equipment. It’s also a workshop and classroom, as well as a special event space and a catering business.
However, it is Rawlings’ planned collaborations with other chefs, foragers, and farmers that may be of most interest to Toronto diners. Once a month, the chef will throw a multi-course feast for 20 people, with the goal of serving creative dishes. “The main purpose of the space, and of the dinners, is so that I can collaborate with different chefs, and maybe raise the level of food being done in the city,” says Rawlings.
On Jan. 30, Rawlings is teaming up with Geoff Hopgood, chef and owner of Roncy’s Hopgoods Foodliner for a 15-course dinner (Rawlings says this may still fluctuate), though good luck getting tickets—the dinner sold out in less than 24 hours. Rest assured, however, it is the first dinner of many. Rawlings is attempting to plan at least one a month (another is already scheduled for February), with other food events (like pastry, beer, or wine tastings and talks by food industry professionals) also scheduled for the event space. “The problem with restaurants is that they’re rooms that largely do one thing,” says Rawlings. “We want to be able to do a lot of different things.”
And though Rawlings is mostly keeping quiet on future details, he’s hinted at the possibility of inviting chefs from outside the city and province to plan a dinner together. “We want to reach out to Montreal next, and then maybe even outside the country. But the great thing about Toronto is that there are a lot of cooks here who left the city for a while and worked at kitchens in Europe and are now coming back, so we hope to work with some of them as well.” —Jacob Rutka
Contact Room 203 at firstname.lastname@example.org for details of future events.
Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star