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Jan 25, 2007 06:14 PM

Chef Patrick Lin back working in Toronto?

Just checked the Chef DB website, & see that chef Patrick Lin is listed as back working in Toronto, & now is executive chef of Senses Restaurant & Bar(it was just updated a couple of days ago). Could someone confirm this? However I still see Patrick listed as executive sous-chef of Royal Garden Hotel in Hong Kong. Maybe he's only a consultant at Senses in Toronto? Since around 1990, he has alternated between working in Hong Kong & Toronto. His previous last job in Toronto, was as executive chef of Hemispheres?

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  1. Just checked, yes Senses has just hired Patrick Lin(he leaves Royal Garden Hotel in HK) to be their new executive chef, replacing Claudio Aprile. Claudio is leaving to open Colbourne Lane.

    1. And this is the most exciting news in the Toronto restaurant scene. I loved his food at Royal Garden (he seemed to be using Indian spices in otherwise Chinese food), and was fortunate to attend a banquet at Lai Wah Heen a year ago where he guest chefed. It was the best Chinese cuisine I've ever tasted. Hate to use the word 'fusion' but he 'updated' a number of different traditional dishes from several regions of China and gave them a modern twist. Very exciting.
      And IMO he was the best ever chef at Truffles (Four Seasons) when he was there.

      And he can't lose at Senses. The food there under Aprile was a disaster. Confused with seemingly unrelated items artfully put together to look pretty and taste bizarre.

      4 Replies
      1. re: estufarian

        Good post estufarian, spot on about Aprile. Do you find Patrick Lims cuisine similar to Susur?

        1. re: visconti

          Not really. I think Susur is more 'french' - at least as far as technique goes.
          However, I do think they both concentrate on flavour. And both favour fresh ingredients. Also Susur pays more attention to presentation and texture (only as a comparison - both are still very good). In summary, Susur is 'possibly' a better chef - but I often refer to Patrick as 'one of my favourite chefs'.
          But IMO they both fall down (for me) in not understanding how wine goes with food. At Hemispheres, although Patrick's food was good, the wine list was disastrous.
          Having said all that, my most recent meal at Susur was possibly my least favourite ever there. But he's earned respect over the years so I hope its only a temporary misstep.

          1. re: estufarian

            Isn't that what a trained sommelier is for? Most top chefs do know their wines but I'm sure they are sometimes at the mercy of the sommelier. I'm not a wine expert and I am sometimes at the mercy of my server. The relationship between chef and sommelier has been greatly underestimated I suppose.

            1. re: foodcruise

              I don't underestimate the value of a good Sommelier. But for both these chefs there were overriding issues.
              At Susur it is IMPOSSIBLE to match wines adequately with the food, as the heavier, sturdier dishes precede the lighter ones. Thus, you would theoretically have to start with a heavier wine and move to a lighter one - the second wine would lose many of its characteristics (this could be partially solved by having palate cleansers at several points in the meal - but isn't).
              At Hemispheres the wine list and the food were a complete mismatch.
              As a general approach (of course, your experience may differ) asian spicing and textures go well with fragrant and/or sparkling wines - if the winelist consists only of heavy tannic reds, the food loses its subtlety and becomes bland - even bitter.
              At the amazing banquet at Lai Wah Heen mentioned above, the issue returned - no wines available at all to match with the food.
              Incidentally, at Susur I solve the problem by only ordering appetizers and specifying the order in which I want them served. We'll see what happens at Senses - which I will certainly try.

      2. If he was coming back to Canada anyway, it would have been perfect timing to take over the Executive spot at the Four Seasons. I suppose he has much more creative freedom at Senses. Plus he and Mr. Henry Woo have a long history together. I'll wait a few months after he has cleared house and implemented his own menu.

        1. We had the the very good fortune of working with Patrick when he was at the Metropolitan Hotel where we held our son's Bar Mitzvah party five years ago. Suffice to to say, it was by far the best food and presentation we had ever had or seen at this kind of event and that was with restrictions in the menu (no shellfish, meat or poultry). I have been to many great events where Senses did the catering and they were all outstanding. He is a real winner!

          1. estufarian, you are probably more aware of the facts in this case. Tell me if you were able to read the article in the earlier state.

            I had recently read a piece on the james chatto digest about patrick lin. Mr. Chatto stated his admiration for Chef Patrick and said Truffles had not been a 4 star restaurant since Patrick had been there. (I personally disagree) However, later in the week I wanted to point out the article to my nephew and this sentence had been deleted. Did I read it correctly and Mr. Chatto is editing himself for reasons unknown, or am I totally mistaken and apologize immediately.

            7 Replies
            1. re: biteme

              I'm pretty sure I read the Chatto blog the same week it was posted and don't recall that comment. I discovered Patrick at the Regent in Hong Kong and actually "followed" him to Truffles (not literally - but started going to Truffles regularly after he moved there). Even proposed to my (now) wife there during his tenure! So I'd certainly have recalled reading a statement like that. Even more so, as I recoil at the use of 4* (as Michelin stops at 3, so the 4* rating is a Toronto Life invention).
              As for service and ambiance - Truffles still deserves the highest possible rating. BUT, I can't say the same for the food, which has been patchy of late (say 12 months). I recall a great meal (or 2 or 3) while Thomas Bellec was there. But since then it's been individual dishes, rather than the entire meal that has impressed (with one exception - their Cheese Boutique dinner was amazing - but that was a one-off event outside their traditional menu, although IIRC it was indeed their current chef Lora Kirk who was in charge that night).
              It's still a safe and reliable place and their wine matches are pretty good but they have lost a bit of the WOW factor in the food. And the service is still unbelievable (for Toronto). After a really poor meal there last January where it was apparent that something went severely wrong in the kitchen, they comped the wine on the night, then phoned back the next day to apologize for the entire meal which they agreed was "not up to our normal standards" and invited our party of four back for a complimentary meal. Yes, they phoned us - even after comping the wine as the apology on the night. That's world-class service.
              Here's hoping the food returns to the same standard (as they always have used the best ingredients).

              1. re: biteme

                I too remember seeing that comment or words to that effect. Have not checked to see if the comment has been deleted or edited. I can only assume taht if it has been removed it was due to some external pressure. If that is the case it only reinforces my opinion of the ethical standards of TL's restuarant reviews.
                If I'm not mistaken Torornto Life does give Truffles only 31/2 stars., so he is consistent with that. However I heartily disagree with that assessment.

                1. re: ishmael

                  Just curious, how do you disagree ishmael? I agree with estufarian when he says the service is outstanding. I could be mistaken again, but I heard/read that Truffles just received 4 star in the new Toronto Life. I have not seen it first hand. ( And, yes, I also agree that TL's ratings can sometimes be put in the same light as Russian skating judges.) Perhaps Mr. Chatto realized he was about to contradict himself?

                  1. re: biteme

                    Since I said "ONLY 3 1/2 stars" I was implying that it deserved more. Sorry for being vague. I believe that Truffles is at least as good as, if not better than Via Allegro, The Fifth( maybe in the past but certainly not now) North 44 and Senses, all of which currently hold 4 stars.

                    And I love the Russian skating judge analogy.

                    1. re: ishmael

                      Toronto Life does indeed give it 4 * in the latest edition. And I agree it's better than all the places you mention.

                      1. re: estufarian

                        As of 5 minutes ago their website still shows it at 3.5 stars

                        1. re: estufarian

                          Well, let's give Patrick some time to make Senses better. And I have to say it, that I agree with some other chowhounds. Truffles might be better than the places mentioned, however I believe it is the service that brings it over the top. As you mentioned estufarian, the food is not the same standard. Splendido is not on that list and it is a favourite of mine. I believe it is a 4+ in food AND service. Truffles will definately have to improve to go head to head in that field.