The Drake Commissary has delicious offerings in a huge space that promises a lot, and is poised to deliver.
When Ted Corrado was interviewed in early 2013 to become executive chef of the Drake Hotel Properties, it was at the Drake 150 while it was still under construction. CEO and founder Jeff Stober and general manager Bill Simpson told him of their larger vision, which included more expansion.
“You’re gong to need a commissary,” Corrado recalls telling them, saying that they waved off the idea with a “sure Ted,” and hired him. Now, four years later, Drake Commissary has opened on Sterling Rd. north of Dundas St. W.
This 8,000-square-foot emporium offers a tasty array of food options, most of them in plain sight. Customers can walk in and nab a pastry, sandwich, slice of pizza or a full hot meal from the counter and take it home or sit down in a front lounge area.
Past the bar is a full sit-down restaurant serving the same menu, complete, of course, with liquor licence. Take a right turn and peruse the Prince Edward County maple syrup, ready to heat lasagnas, tubs of tahini and ice cream in the so-called larder. (And back at the main cafeteria counter is a bread wall offering homemade loaves to go.)
Past that, another lounge offers a (somewhat) quiet place to work or hold a small meeting. This space and the entire front of house can be rented out.
It all backs onto a 5,000 square foot kitchen separated only by glass. “Few show you this part of it,” says Corrado. “We’re breaking down the barriers.” So, you can view charcuterie meats drying, bakers attacking globs of dough and other kitchen staff dashing about, preparing food for the commissary or the company’s catering arm.
It’s a complex operation that even Corrado didn’t entirely envision when he took the job four years ago and began crafting menus for the Drake properties — which included the main hotel on Queen St. W., the Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward County and the soon-to-open 150 on York St. — driven by creativity, local foods and homemade ingredients. (He did similar work at the Royal Ontario Museum’s c5 restaurant lounge.)
Corrado soon brought on longtime colleague Jonas Grupiljonas, a chef who recently “fell in love with baking,” and he started doing homemade bread and pastries for the 150. The other Drakes then wanted the (delicious) goods, too.
In 2014, Stober gave the chefs access to an 800 square foot space on Queen St. W. he’d been using for storage and they turned it into a “mini commissary,” baking for the properties. (Someone would drive the goods up to the Devonshire twice a week.)
But things kept happening. A cool, artist-driven project would want food, and Corrado and his team would agree to cater it. “We’d say yes and then we’d have to find out how to make it happen.”
Also, Grupiljonas’ forays into homemade bread triggered interest in making other foods from scratch. They began doing more pickling and other canning. They made homemade sausages and charcuterie. Everything required room. “We hit a point where we could not do anything else,” recalls Corrado.
So the hunt began for a kitchen to support the properties and their extra projects. For a year and half, they looked at spaces. They got a tip on Christmas Eve 2016 about this place and Corrado and Grupiljonas raced over to see it.
It was empty and huge. It wasn’t in the original plan to have a public space as part of the commissary, but now it was possible. On the spot, the two started sketching out their kitchen, giving it easy access to loading docks, and an ample front of house, too.
While the new project was under construction, the Drake formally launched its catering arm last February. In June, this place opened to the public, its kitchen already broken in over the previous few weeks.
Now, just days into opening, the place is packed with loungers having coffee while holding newborns, and a hungry lunch crowd tears into brisket over beer and wine.
Already, Drake style, the place is set to host events, including one that turns the parking lot (FYI parking is tight, Commissary visitors best take the TTC) into a skate park, plus there will be art, food and cocktails. Another offers to teach macramé. Delicious offerings at a place that promises a lot, and is poised to deliver.
By Diane Peters. Read the article: https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/06/22/drakes-massive-food-emporium-offers-options-in-toronto.htmlSee All News