Rob Bragagnolo spent the early days of the pandemic rethinking paella. “I played around and realized that a metal takeout container is kind of like a paella pan. So, I start it in there, over the flame and finish it in the oven. It travels well and reheats nicely.” Labora’s loyal downtown Toronto customers were perfectly happy ordering his five-course takeout menus, and his wife quit her job to handle packaging and ordering. “I honestly feel I’ve become a better cook in the last 12 months and I’m cooking so much more than I have in the past five years.” Bragagnolo has now closed his King West restaurant to partner with his friends at Cold Tea on West Queen West for the summer — and likely beyond. The Labora at Cold Tea Summer Pop-up is about “cooking the best possible ingredients over a live fire,” says Bragagnolo. “It’s going to be exciting, doing something fresh and of the moment. Having a patio and cooking outside…it’ll be nice to rejuvenate ourselves a little.” And yes, there will be paella.
Photo Credit: Chuck Ortiz/Back of House