We’ve respectfully kept this on the extra-double-down-low while talented chef de cuisine Dale Mackay’s tenure at Lumiere was coming to a close, but since it did just that last night it’s time to break the good news: the Top Chef Canada competitor has indeed figured out his next step, and it will be to open a new restaurant of his own.
We can confirm that Mackay has taken over the recently vacated Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe location at 850 Thurlow Street (just south of Robson) with plans to open his first restaurant – dubbed Ensemble – hopefully before the end of this May. We are also especially glad to hear that some Lumiere employees are going along with him for the ride, among them sommelier Kevin van Hullebush and sous chef Brad Hendrickson.
Expect a 30+ seat oyster and cocktail bar and an 85 seat dining room. Further details soon, but in the meantime see below for images of the location…
UPDATE | The official press release…
March 15, 2011 – Vancouver, BC – Chef Dale MacKay announces the spring, 2011 opening of ensemble restaurant, just off Robson Street in Vancouver, British Columbia. Best known for his award-winning, Five Diamond, Grand Relais & Chateaux class, modern French techniques and exquisite presentation, Chef MacKay will break from tradition, when ensemble opens in May.
“ensemble is a new dining concept for Vancouver,” says MacKay. “we will combine classic French techniques with influences and flavour profiles from around the world, and offer a wide variety of flavours and textures in tasting size dishes priced from $8-$24. The kitchen will be doing what I’ve always done, but with a more casual and modern approach.”
Chef MacKay’s resume, like his culinary style, is condensed and flavourful. Highlights include time spent as a private chef in Italy; as Executive Chef at an exclusive BC resort; protégé to Chef Gordon Ramsay at his restaurants in Tokyo, New York, and London; then most recently, as Executive Chef of Lumière, Vancouver’s Five Diamond, Four Star, Relais Gourmand establishment managed by New York Chef Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group. Dale is a contender on Top Chef Canada, premiering April 11, 2011 on Food Network Canada.
“For me, ensemble represents the culmination of my life so far as a Canadian chef and what I want those experiences to mean to me, to my team, and to our clients. Of course I have no illusions about how tough the restaurant business can be in these times and in Vancouver but, I believe my path to prosperity will be about working with people I respect and care about, doing what we love, and making other people happy by sharing our talents and enthusiasm … and keeping it real and affordable for them.”
ensemble’s interior design mirrors Chef MacKay’s fresh, clean and modern culinary vision. An open concept space features a cocktail bar/lounge with 30 comfortable seats and plenty of standing room for busy times like game nights and live music weekends. The 85 seat dining room, separate from but flowing seamlessly into the lounge area, is at once intimate and social – what Dale describes as a reflection of Vancouver’s contemporary dining scene. The 850 Thurlow Street address, at the northeast corner of Smythe/Haro and a stone’s throw from busy Robson Street, takes no chances on location as it’s situated at the epicenter of one of the city’s highest concentration of shops, restaurants, theatres and hotels.
A longtime friend and client of Chef MacKay’s has come on board as silent partner and business advisor, but the day to day operations and creative license of the restaurant will remain the domain of MacKay and his hand-picked ensemble cast, including Sommelier/Maitre d’ Kevin van Hullebush, and Sous Chef Brad Hendrickson.