If you have never heard of Chef Sean MacDonald, it is probably because you haven’t come across his beautiful plates on with the honour of being recently selected as one of the 16 Rising Talents for North America by The Art of Plating. His Toronto-based ēst Restaurant serves modern Canadian cuisine, and seeks to take you on a journey across the Canadian country.
Chef Sean MacDonald was selected as #221 chef in the world by The Best Chef Awards, the only Canadian chef on the list. The native Calgarian graduated from the Professional Cooking Program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and began his role as Executive Chef at MARKET Restaurant in Calgary, Alberta at the age of 23. In June 2016, he won the Canadian title for the San Pellegrino Young Chef Competition and represented Canada in the World Championships in Milan, Italy. In addition to being the Owner and Executive Chef of ēst Restaurant, MacDonald is a contributing columnist to Canada’s Globe and Mail Newspaper with recipes. He is also a Canadian brand ambassador for All-Clad Metal crafters LLC and Le Nouveau Chef Apparel.
The first menu at ēst Restaurant
What cuisine does ēst serve?
We just recently opened ēst Restaurant in September 2019. We are a Canadian tasting menu restaurant serving Modern Canadian cuisine touching back on Canadian history and old techniques. We have two 11 course menus, one traditional and one vegan. There is a bite to represent each province and territory of Canada.
Can you tell us a bit about Canadian cuisine and produce?
Canadian food is very unique. So many different cultures and foods. Limited Canadian produce because of the winter but amazing meats and game. We are currently researching and doing our take on Canadian food. People should come in to ēst to see what Canadian food is all about.
The Quebec Course
You have amazingly beautiful plates. What inspires your plating?
Art inspires and the overall experience for the guest. I want to show food in the most exciting, eye appealing way. It excites me to plate up a dish and have the final product look like art.
Who inspires you as a chef?
My colleagues are one of my biggest inspirations at the moment. They come up with some great ideas and we roll with them as a team. Daniel Humm has always inspired me. So has the Michelin guide. And perusing perfection.
The Rabbit Course
What is the experience you’re trying to deliver to your patrons at ēst?
Something they haven’t experienced before. Something unique to Canada to has bursts of flavour while also touching on the history of Canadian food. Bringing light to a food identity that isn’t fully developed yet.
You’re quite the personality on Instagram which also highlights what seems to be a very happy workplace. What do you think makes your kitchen culture work?
We’re a big family with the same goal. We all want to be great and succeed. I find people work best under pressure but also enjoying the process and where they are at in the moment. We like to laugh and have a good time but we focus as well. It’s finding that happy balance. I love to laugh but I work all the time. So I need to find time to laugh.
The Alberta Course
Ēst Restaurant will be reopening its doors with a new menu very soon.
729, Queen Street East
Toronto, ON M4M 1H1
Wednesdays to Thursdays, 5.00 pm to 12.00 am
Fridays to Sundays, 5.00 pm to 1.00 am
Closed on Mondays