There hasn’t been much in the way of news floating about on the highly anticipated “Hawksworth” restaurant front for a few months now so I thought it might be time for an update. Let me bring you up to speed…
David Hawksworth is one of Canada’s top chefs. If you’re one of our non-food fanatic readers and have never heard the name before, don’t fret. He may have twice upon at time cooked at the James Beard Foundation in New York and been named “Chef of the Year” (2005), but he’s been off the radar for about three years now, ever since he left his long-time position as the executive chef at the superlative West.
That South Granville spot blossomed during David’s seven year tenure in the kitchen, becoming known as one of the finest restaurants in the country. Speaking personally, he has prepared some of the most amazing meals of my life (including one of my stag suppers 9 years ago). It was an honour to be on stage with him when he became the youngest chef ever to be inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame (see video below).
When he left West to start planning his eponymous restaurant, “Hawksworth”, slated first for a 2009 opening in the then presumably finished Rosewood Hotel Georgia at 801 West Georgia, I was sad to see him go. At the same time, however, I was very excited for what would come next. We have plenty of hotel restaurants in Vancouver, but next to none with comparable star power at the stoves, talent notwithstanding (elsewhere, the finest hotels are the creative playgrounds of the most famous chefs in the world – Jean-Georges, Boulud, Ramsay, etc). For restaurant wonks, the coming of “Hawksworth” was kind of a big deal. The project, sadly, has been delayed. Plenty delayed, as in both the hotel and the restaurant still aren’t open.
Here is what I know that’s new…
D-Day is now in March, 2011. When it does finally arrive, “Hawksworth” will see 2,800sqft of floor space with roughly 120 seats including a 30 seat bar and lounge, plus another 1025sqft hidden away for private dining. Toronto’s super modern Munge Leung is doing the design, so we can expect to be wowed by the aesthetics (bonus: local design house Evoke will be doing the hotel’s cafe).
As far as staffing is concerned, they’ve picked up former Feenie’s front man Chad Clark off waivers from Oru in the Fairmont Pacific Rim and tapped him to run the front of house, while the personable Brad Stanton (formerly of Uva Wine Bar) will be running the bar. The Chef de Cuisine is the talented Kristian Eligh (formerly of Market in the Shangri-La), and the Wine Director is Terry Threlfall (formerly sommelier at Chez Bruce in London).
The food? I remember David’s food, and I bloody well miss it. The concept is described to me as “Contemporary Canadian”, which is – I believe – the same idiosyncratic style he perfected over time at West. I take it to mean French technique, modern presentations of mostly West Coast ingredients and just a dash of Asian elan.
March can’t come soon enough.