As the executive chef of the recently opened Roosevelt Room — one of Toronto’s latest hot spots — that harkens back to a bygone era of the supper club, Wilkinson leads a team of 10 in the busy kitchen. “I’m thrilled,” he says of his latest venture that follows the opening of his own restaurant, Trevor Kitchen and Bar.
A confessed “truck guy,” the father of two drives a 2004 Nissan Titan, which caught his eye after seeing it in a commercial. “I was driving a Chevy, but I was looking for a full-size truck. I test drove the Titan and fell in love with it,” he explains.
Aside from the ample space his truck provides, the heated leather seats and it’s “amazing sound system,” Wilkinson loves having four-wheel drive.
“I don’t know how people do without it,” he says. “I’m pretty handy, so I can carry all my tools and equipment around in it, pack up snowboards, all the kids stuff. It’s great.”
Wilkinson, who has worked his way through many of Toronto’s top kitchens, including Jump, under Michael Bonacini and Canoe, under Marc McEwan, was first inspired to work in a kitchen after his parents took him for his 24th birthday dinner at Lotus, Susur Lee’s first restaurant. “It was about 15 years ago, but seeing what he was doing, I was just so inspired,” recalls Wilkinson.
Despite long workdays that generally end around midnight, Wilkinson says he wouldn’t want to be a nine-to-fiver.
“I still just love food. You know, it’s always new,” he says. In his free time, weather permitting, he takes his motorcycle out for a spin. “I’ve had my motorcycle license since I was 18. I was driving motorcycles in high school before I had my license,” he says, adding that fatherhood has mellowed him out a bit. “I’ve had multiple accidents, tickets, that sort of thing … I’d probably categorize myself as an aggressive driver, but since having kids I’ve changed my driving habits,” he says.
As for the future, he says: “Hopefully I’ll be working a little bit less and spending more time with my kids. Or, running my restaurant from a cellphone and laptop on a yacht in the Caribbean.”
– Heather Buchan is a Toronto-based journalist whohas worked at Homemakers,Canadian Living, Canadian House & Homeand, most recently,Hello! Canada, where she cut her teeth in the world of celebrities.