A cozy home-style restaurant run by GBC alumni
Chef Matt Griffiths lives an exciting life. He graduated from the food and beverage management program at George Brown College (GBC), did a one-year training program at Algonquin College in Ottawa, got into a pre-health science program at GBC, travelled to Australia, Vietnam, Bermuda and worked at noted hotels in New York City and London, England. Now he is back to Toronto, running his very first homey restaurant, The Corktown Kitchen.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to open a restaurant or not. I was tired of working for other people, putting my heart into it with no real return. It was just a lot of hours and a lot of headaches,” said Chef Griffiths.
Open since June, the restaurant is a cozy and convenient place in the heart of the Corktown neighbourhood. Matt and his father did the renovations themselves in just a few months, which adds comfort and charm to the 30-seat hall.
The authentic menu was created by Chef Griffiths with several items being inspired by his journey to Vietnam. As winter approaches, a couple of changes will be made to the menu. Everything is made in-house, beginning with local fish dishes to desserts and syrups for mojitos. Being the only cook in the kitchen, Griffiths takes special pride in his sauces, some of which take up to five days to prepare.
The Corktown Kitchen is a bistro-style restaurant with good, simple food. Griffiths says basic menu is always going to be easy to prepare. “I try to keep simple flavours and simple product.”
Griffiths says renovations and waiting were the most difficult part of opening a restaurant. “You have a deadline you want to set and then time just creeps up on you. You want to be open but you can’t because some little things keep popping up – that’s the most frustrating part. Once we opened, it was easy for me as I knew what I was doing.”
Griffiths thinks the best part, on the other hand is just “being open. You put so much time and effort into it and get so stressed along the way that opening becomes the easiest part since cooking in a restaurant has become natural to me.”
The Corktown Kitchen is currently open Tuesday to Saturday and the closing hours are quite flexible. From June until mid-July they were doing very popular Sunday brunches. “This area is difficult during the summertime,” said Griffiths, “because many people leave the city for summer cottages. The Pan Am Games was another issue.” However, the brunches will start again in mid-September.
“If this restaurant is successful, in three to four years I can take a step back and become a restaurant owner as opposed to a chef/restaurant owner. But until that happens I’m here 80 hours a week,” said Griffiths.
Griffiths said he will be approaching George Brown College for possible internships at The Corktown Kitchen, so keep your eyes open.