Toronto winters are enough to send even the most ardent foodie running for the instant noodles at the back of the cupboard. So when the snow banks melt, it’s a cause for celebration. With summer now fully in bloom, the timing couldn’t be better for Summerlicious the city’s annual prix fixe dining bonanza.

And with changing seasons come changing eating habits. Dishes should focus on the simplicity of their ingredients says Anthony Rose, executive chef at the Drake Hotel.

In dark of winter, “you can think about your meals for days,” he says, whereas capturing every last drop of sunshine is the priority come July. “The goal is to make and eat dinner in a hour.”

Rose, a native Torontonian, came home six years ago after a five year stint in New York, settling in at the Drake because it’s “interesting, different and a lot of fun.”

“I love it because we never stand still. We’re always reinventing ourselves.”

For Summerlicious, Rose cherry picks the best of the Drake’s regular summer menu to give diners a wide swath of flavours.

A 25 year veteran, Rose’s dishes focus on ingredients that are “good, local and delicious,” a philosophy he learned working in both San Francisco and New York.

He blends ingredients like eggplant, Parmesan, chilies with “tomatoes everywhere” to create “picnic-style summer food.”

Summerlicious coincides with the Drake’s Dining Roadshow that finds hotel literally reinventing its back dining room to create a “pop-up” restaurant.

Based around the concept of a summer-school style dining hall, the new space comes complete with communal tables made from old bowling alley lanes.

“Its upscale delicious summer food,” says Rose, “that’s kitchy, simple and good.”

“You could make it at home,” he says, but it wouldn’t be nearly as good.

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