Chef de Cuisine, Café Boulud and d|bar
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2005
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Chef de Partie, Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche (formerly a Four Seasons hotel)
- Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora; Four Seasons Resort Provence at Terre Blanche (formerly a Four Seasons hotel); Le Mirabeau, Monaco; Mas Candille, Mougins, France; Miramar Beach Hotel, Théoule sur Mer, France; Carlton Intercontinental, Cannes; Hotel Byblos, Saint Tropez
- Avignon, France
- Bachelor of Business Hospitality, Culinary School of Montpellier
- English, French
There is a lot of collaboration in the kitchen and on the menu of Café Boulud and d|bar at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Sylvain Assié wouldn’t have it any other way. “I try for maximum communication to involve my team,” says Assié, who became Chef de Cuisine of the Hotel’s signature restaurant and lounge, which collectively showcase the talents of chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud, in spring 2015. “I am not the kind of chef that says, ‘we’re putting this on the menu and that’s it.’ We have a lot of young talent in the crew and everyone has a role to play. I challenge them to be the best they can possibly be.”
Assié believes he was tapped to lead the dining spots for his own talent with the authentic French cuisine he has known intimately since taking his first bites in Avignon, France. He grew up in a small village with his family near Montpellier. “They love food and love to cook. I remember the smell in my grandmother’s kitchen for the Sunday family lunch with everyone around the table sharing roasted lamb leg, stuff squids, an aligot or a fantastic bouillabaisse and many other delights.”
Every family in the village had a garden with fruit in the trees and vegetables in the ground. “We were always doing something with what we got from nature,” he says, recalling picking wild asparagus and mushrooms, cooking every day, and learning techniques of the art of preparation – in particular canning for the off-season. “It was just that kind of place - very simple and authentic.”
After getting his start with Four Seasons in the south of France, Assié skipped across a couple of oceans to Bora Bora and then landed in Toronto as a Sous Chef in 2010, two years before the opening of the company’s new address and Café Boulud and d│bar within. His expertise has been tapped across the restaurant and bar over the years, for monitoring inventory, managing staff, and fashioning new dishes in concert with Chef Daniel Boulud.
Assié honed his technique while climbing the culinary ladder in France, where he worked in two 1-Michelin-Star kitchens before joining Four Seasons, and a 2-Michelin-Starred kitchen afterwards. Harkening back to his youth gone by, he developed a “love of fresh produce” and met regularly with French suppliers to pick the best seasonal ingredients. That passion continues in Toronto: “I really like the small farms and suppliers we work with here,” he says, crediting a colleague for plugging him into the region’s best farms.
Just 36 when he was appointed Chef de Cuisine in Toronto, Assié has the “same dream of every chef,” to one day own a restaurant of his own. His sights are unique, though: “I am still young so I need to learn a lot. Not a restaurant. Something like a farm cottage with food and hospitality. It’ll be a return to the roots.”
Meantime, he takes pleasure in planting seeds of appreciation for what the earth provides with his wife and daughter close to home in Toronto. “We love to pick strawberries and apples at a small farm outside the city when I have the time. It is very important for us to show our daughter the source of the good stuff.”