Lunch at the Gaggenau Showroom
Chef David Schwartz of Toronto’s celebrated Mimi Chinese and its casual, younger sibling, Sunnys Chinese, was bashing cucumbers with the flat side of a cleaver, getting them prepped for a smashed cucumber salad, and sharing some insight into what makes him tick.
“Dining is my predominant way to socialize with people,” Schwartz said. “Sharing a meal with someone is my favourite thing to do. I centre my calendar around meals with people.”
In this case, he was cooking lunch with Braden Chong, his Mimi Chinese head chef, at Luxe Appliance Studio (Gaggenau’s freshly renovated showroom in downtown Toronto), for a group of local media and influencers. Several of them had one eye on the details of the unfolding feast, and another, aspirational one on the equipment in the showroom — the latest dual-zone under-counter wine fridge, for example. Most impressive were the discreet built-in wall units that included an espresso machine, a sous-vide friendly steam oven and vacuum sealer — all in a single, flush stack.
Schwartz was operating with an ulterior motive. He wants to monitor how the high-end German manufacturer’s latest kitchen equipment measures up against what he’s used to on the professional line. Will the new equipment be the right solution for his own home? Will it sync with all his dishes and the required cooking methods for each one and also deliver something beyond the usual indulgences geared to home cooks?
“My go-to is mac and cheese with a good roux-based cheese sauce,” admitted photographer Felicia Byron.
“It’s 100% French onion soup for me with beef stock, a s—load of Gruyère, fino sherry and a little brandy,” countered influencer Rebecca Felgate, “with a glass of Chablis.”
Food writer Tiffany Leigh proffered her own favourite indulgence. “I like a grilled steak with copious amounts of truffle butter melted on it — [and] finishing with gnawing on the bone.”
Others at table also shared their culinary preferences — spaghetti bolognese, osso bucco, rabbit pie…. Meanwhile, having cleared away our plates, emptied of scallop crudo drizzled with seafood-chili-oil XO sauce, the chefs returned with cucumber salad, a stunning char siu and, fresh from the steam oven, the pièce de résistance — a deboned whole sea bass cooked in Shaoxing wine.
“Steaming is a cooking technique that’s used a lot in Chinese cuisine,” Chong explained. “It always brings me back to when I was a kid. My grandma would be steaming up dinner and the aroma would fill the air.”
The meal was spectacular and, to those diners who’d been to Sunnys and Mimi, just as delicious as what they had experienced at the restaurants. “It was really nice how seamless it felt for us to cook the food we usually cook in the restaurant outside of the restaurant,” Schwartz noted, just when the duck egg custard arrived for dessert.
“We usually require a lot of specialty equipment, but it was quite simple for us to do it here.”