Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
TORONTO, ONTARIO — “Restaurants are like chapters in your life,” Claudio Aprile says, philosophizing about his craft. If he’s correct, the culinary innovator is working on a masterpiece.
His Colborne Lane was a leading molecular gastronomy spot on the continent before it closed earlier this decade. Origin followed it and won over casual diners with its diverse cuisine that was reminiscent of Toronto’s population. Now, Copetin debuts in Origin’s former space near the St. Lawrence Market.
Conceptualized as a multi-dining operation with a canteen, snack bar, restaurant and counter service station, Copetin is a riff on many flavours — all with Aprile’s touch for balance, subtle spicing and experimentation.
Beef tartare is served covered with thin, crispy pasta crackers topped with specks of dried and smoked egg yolk, charred octopus comes on a plate smeared with thick and tasty spinach curry, and perhaps the highlight is a plate of ricotta-stuffed gnudi served with a regianno broth and artichoke.
A few years ago, Aprile was well known among the Toronto culinary world but he has ascended to celebrity status thanks to his role on “MasterChef Canada,” the CTV reality show that aims to crown the nation’s leading home chef. On the program, he’s joined by Alvin Leung and Michael Bonacini in coaching and judging the contestants. When asked how that position translates to what he does in the kitchen, he said there were some similarities.
“For the most part they are two very separate things, but there are parallels where you’re trying to get the best out of a particular person or sometimes a particular dish. On MasterChef, I’m a mentor, not a tormentor. And that’s what I’m trying to do here in the kitchen, too,” says the Uruguay-born restaurateur.
Aprile says the restaurant is like a music studio, where you’re creating from your imagination. You can find the chef happiest when he’s behind the service counter, a limited-seating space where he will put his imagination to work. “I can be creative there and have fun with dishes.”
As with Origin, Copetin has a flair for design. Noticeable is a wall in the private dining space covered with classic album covers. There’s no genre left out, either. You’ll find hip-hop, classic rock, blues and heavy metal. A diverse variety of tastes that’s a match for the chef’s eclectic cuisine.
MORE ABOUT COPETIN
Address: 107 King Street East, Toronto, ON
Price Range: Entrees range from $26-$59 (for the triple-seared Australian Wagyu beef striploin).
You Must Order: The Ricotta Gnudi ($26) is delicate and rich at the same time, a showcase of Aprile’s ability to balance flavours.