Address: 171 East Liberty St. #153
Hours: Tues – Fri: 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.; Sat: 9 a.m. – 12 a.m.; Sun: 10 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Dinner for 2 w/tax & tip: $45
***** (out of five)
Chef Marc Thuet’s career took a very unexpected turn when, not long after opening his King Street West restaurant, he decided to switch from the fine dining he was famous for to a bistro menu and open a bakery. Since then, he’s become the centre of an empire of sorts, starting by producing his own sausages and prepared meats, in addition to cheeses, syrups, mustards, jams and preserves. To provide an outlet for this explosion of industry, he opened Atelier Thuet in Liberty Village last year, a food shop that has since expanded into a little eatery next door after a neighbouring tenant bailed on the space.
If you’re sitting at your table enjoying, say, his steak sandwich and a plate of perfect, golden frites dusted with dry, nutty parmesan-like cheese, you’ll glimpse him and his staff coming in and out of the kitchen, in the middle of the countless projects Thuet has going on at any time. It’s hard to believe that any one man, or team, can keep up with the demands he’s set himself between the two spaces and the seemingly endless products he turns out.
“The good thing is that we have one day that we’re closed,” Thuet says. “Monday we’re closed. And that’s when we do all the charcuterie. I make my own cheeses, all with unpasteurized milk. Monday is a long day — we work 18 hours, a few of the guys who have the same passion, and in 18 hours we can cure, we can cut up, we can debone a maximum of pigs.”
Talking with Thuet is always inspiring; he’s not the only chef in the city with an obvious passion for the details of his job, but he’s the most infectious, inspiring you to ambitions of sloughing off your reliance on supermarket produce and mass-produced meats. Even on those precious days off, however, he’ll take an opportunity to celebrate the new season and its brief windows of opportunity for, say, ramps, or wild leeks.
“Monday I took my kitchen guys — you see the wild leeks? We went wild leek picking. I was picking wild leeks and one of the guys says, ‘Fuck, I smell chervil.’ So we look on the ground, and I found wild chervil. I picked a basket of wild chervil.”
He’s formed a partnership with the Mennonite farmers of southern Ontario, who have become his source for so much of his meat and produce, and has ambitions to get even deeper into business with them, hoping to get one of them to raise a line of whey-fed Berkshire piglets for him. “They understand animals, they know how to treat animals.”