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Eat & Drink

"Boy-wonder" chef launches secret Toronto supper club

Posted by Liora Ipsum / March 14, 2014

Luke Hayes Alexander TorpontoAt 23 years old, chef Luke Hayes-Alexander has already spent more than half his life working professionally in kitchens. Originally from Kingston, the "boy-wonder" chef closed his namesake restaurant, Luke's Gastronomy earlier this year where he had been the executive chef since the age of 15.

Now a new transplant to Toronto, Hayes-Alexander (who was a recent competitor on Chopped Canada), has just launched L.U.S.T, Luke's Underground Supper Table which successfully served its first sold-out dinner for 12 last night at a private residence in a secret location.

The debut, "Hello Toronto"-themed supper featured fun innovative dishes like pork belly and jalapeno nuggets and Rou Jia Mo pogos.

While he's serving a snack-themed dinner this weekend too at The Depanneur, the next installment of L.U.S.T has yet to be announced.

Toronto secret supper clubExpect future supper clubs to revolve around broad themes like American Chinese foods or BBQ and fried chicken. Admission prices will vary depending on the menu which is custom crafted for each event -- cocktail pairings will sometimes be included while other times guests will be encouraged to BYOB.

Photos via Luke Hayes Alexander

Discussion

15 Comments

steve / March 14, 2014 at 01:19 pm
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I've never heard of this guy, but this seems unbelievable. Not like he's ultra talented unbelievable, but phoney. He would be to young to go to chef school, which means he's not a trained chef or in any type of legal apprenticeship. He couldn't be employed in a kitchen legally until he was 15. He's just a kid his parents promoted. Talent, no talent, he couldn't run a shift at The Keg. Until he goes to school he can't have apprentices, and would always have to have a trained chef supervising him and any employees in the kitchen. it's the law. I guess that's why he works by himself doing "super clubs". He hopes to get a TV show or book deal before he would actually have to be a chef. Then take the money and be an owner. Then he can hire a real chef for 15 bucks an hour to do his work for him
Colleen replying to a comment from steve / March 14, 2014 at 04:35 pm
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Things not going well for you at The Keg, Steve? No need to lash out at Luke. If, as you say, you've "never heard of" him, do yourself a favor and read about him. He's a natural-born food genius and you might be inspired to hone your own skills and get a better job. Your rage will then dissipate. Win/win for everyone. :)
Kate / March 14, 2014 at 05:59 pm
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I remember hearing about this young man when he took over at his mom's resto when he was 15....no fake.
JC / March 14, 2014 at 06:22 pm
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Rather than being dismissive about this young man, consider his ambition to master culinary skills and to take risks. He is no fly by night kid. He has been cooking professionally in Kingston for a number of years now. Admire the fact that he continues to demonstrate commitment to his craft. Not afraid of failure in an industry where one needs to show resolve and learning.
KingstonChef / March 14, 2014 at 09:27 pm
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Steve, there are no laws requiring a "trained chef" to supervise employees in any professional kitchen. Anyone who has worked in fine dining restaurants knows that many great chefs have never stepped foot in a college or culinary school, and many haven't bothered to get their Journeyman's designation. It's where you've worked, and who you've worked for.
steve / March 15, 2014 at 01:41 am
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Thank you for your responses. I had a few beers last night and my comment came out quite wrong. By saying "I've never heard of this guy, but this seems unbelievable" I wasn't being dismissive of his skills I was implying that there maybe more going on then I know, but calling a 15 year old with no employees an executive chef is incorrect. As far as legality goes, maybe he can head a kitchen with employees, I'm a bit rusty on the rules these days."The Keg" comment was merely an example of a kitchen where personal, and management skills are more important then cooking skills. I could as easily mentioned any large kitchen, fine dining or otherwise, the same skills apply and are necessary to obtain a title of "Executive Chef". If it is about "where you've worked, and who you've work for" who has he worked for? Although I appear to be criticizing Luke Hayes-Alexander in reality I'm criticizing the desire of the media to portray the job of "Chef" as an individuals pursuit of making good food. It's not what the word means, and it's not what the job is. As far as my own career, I've been cooking since I was 15, I have 32 years of kitchen experience working under quality chefs in Canada and abroad, and presently have 4 apprentices who are very happy to work on my team. I not "ridiculous" I guess I'm just old. All the best to Luke Hayes-Alexander
M replying to a comment from steve / March 15, 2014 at 07:50 am
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I think Im the only one who agreed with you. Knowing about food and managing a kitchen are two completely different skill. You can be "culinary genius" and be a lousy Chef. To me, the one I am saying "Yes, Chef" has more than just talent with food, he/she has leadership skills and years of experience that I can look up to and hope to emulate. And it is a humbling and necessary experience, I think, to work under a really great Chef. From there you learn the necessary skills and what it takes to run a kitchen
Whatup12 replying to a comment from M / March 15, 2014 at 06:24 pm
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Indeed, you are the only one who agreed with him. I went to school in Kingston and remember this place--it was great then and sorry to hear about it being closed. I remember it being well managed and dont remember a mother looking figure there managing the staff. That said, it was a small place on Princess Street. But indeed, Luke moved to the big city and look forward to him opening up a place soon. A nice way to get some buzz in place before the restaurant opens--ie chopped, supper clubs, etc. To me, that shows thought in marketing--so he has some management experience, clearly has some marketing skills, and is a good cook. To me, that implies he has a fighting chance to successfully enter the crowded TO restaurant scene.
A / March 16, 2014 at 12:00 am
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As one of the 12 who participated in that fantastic evening. I can tell you that this incredible individual is going places. He's passionate about what he does and is not afraid to try new things. He took a risk moving here and is willing to share his love of food with the great people of TO. Watch out for more from him cause he's already a hit before he's even landed on his feet.
Western / March 16, 2014 at 03:00 pm
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Good marketing. A lot of hype about the chef's age, and the mysterious set-up. Disappointingly, this article has very little to do with food.
Jennifer Radford replying to a comment from steve / March 17, 2014 at 01:22 pm
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As it happens, I *have* met the young man in question - both when he was about 5 years old running around his parents warm and friendly Kingston restaurant (a favourite of mine during my undergrad years), and as a young chef when he took over the more formal bistro he then ran.

I have also eaten at his restaurant, and I can vouch that he was indeed apprenticed from childhood - because he *loves* food and cooking - and his food is excellent. He is no fake, just someone who found what he loved (and is good at) early, and had a great family willing to help him learn about it.

I am very pleased to he's still pushing the envelope and trying new things :)
Rob / April 2, 2014 at 10:33 am
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I have also eaten as his place in Kingston, and feel that he is... overrated. I found his place in Kingston to be a mix of some interesting and well-prepared things, a fair bit of pretentious fare, and some flavour pairings that seemed more like train-wrecks than artful creations.

He seems to be a generally able cook who has an undeniable passion... but seems to have been brought up and nurtured into believing that he's a great genius without ever being called upon to second-guess or to test that. And it seems that much of the coverage that this young fellow has had has been too distracted by the novelty of his story to give the actual product a fair assessment.

It'll be interesting to see whether after all the rage (and novelty) about his background simmers away (indeed, the "unbelievably young chef" angle is expiring quickly) whether things will still pass muster. From my own experiences at his place in Kingston (in the midst of all the praise), I can't help by worry that they really won't.
adrienne replying to a comment from Colleen / May 12, 2014 at 01:21 am
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Actually I read all about him and his failures in toronto, and Steve is spot on. No training, NEVER worked in a restaurant that wasn't run by his family. His kingston menu was beyond pretentious. And closed its doors because it have nothing but horrible reviews. Clearly moving to Toronto thinking he can fool people their. But over priced food and cheap wine, is that no matter what city. On chopped it was clear he can't even take a small critic. Its pretty clear he grew up cooking for mom that of course loved everything. He really need to take his talents and get a strong chef mentor to move further, and faster, literally he is like a turtle with the flu.
adrienne replying to a comment from Colleen / May 12, 2014 at 01:30 am
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Just google Luke's Gastronomy in Kingston, lots of real reviews. You can spot the ones that are likely family or friends. As they usually don't spend time on a real review and just spit out a few positive sentences to up the star rating. But a restaurant where you are paying 75-100 bucks per person for a full meal (in which many were not full after), no drinks included, listed as 2.5 star on trip advisor. I don't care what city you are in, and Kingston, isn't some low class town. Poor food is poor food, especially over priced. Yet so much work is going into it. His work just needs mentorship and for that you need to be able to take a lot of criticism, for good reason.
Patrick replying to a comment from steve / May 26, 2014 at 06:12 pm
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I had the privilege of meeting Luke earlier today. He is 23 now, not 15, and that means 8 solid years experience cooking for paying customers. Definitely the real deal, and a very conscientious chef. His supper clubs are less a marketing ploy than simply what he feels like doing at the time being. Look for exciting things in the near future from Luke!

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