Earls Kitchen + Bar: Strives For Excellence At Its New Yorkdale Location

Earls Restaurant Group aims to enhance the future of casual fine dining at the new Toronto flagship location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre with the help of Corporate Sommelier David Stansfield and Chef David Wong.

Earls Restaurant Group is committed to offering an affordable yet fine-dining restaurant experience to all those with an empty stomach. The grand opening of its new Toronto flagship location at Yorkdale Shopping Centre showcased the stunning design of the restaurant, which was inspired by and tailored for the Yorkdale demographic.

Earls Yorkdale will be joining the five other locations in the Greater Toronto Area and the 59 other locations across Canada.

The Earls menu was meticulously created by renowned Chef David Wong. The menu is inspired by world travels and offers guests a balance of healthy and indulgent dishes created with quality ingredients.

Chef Wong’s culinary journey is an interesting one, to say the least. With a bachelor’s degree in social work, he travelled abroad with his wife and unexpectedly fell in love with the food of Europe, which quickly inspired him to pursue the culinary arts. He eventually enrolled in the Culinary Arts program at Vancouver Island University.

Q: Many tasks require your guidance and input both in the kitchen and on the business end. Was there a learning curve for you to be able to balance both at the beginning?
A: For me, those two are the same. They both must work together. I think every chef will tell you that you can’t run a successful restaurant without knowing how the business works. My focus is on making sure that the dishes we create are delicious enough to be ordered again. We have a great team of people who make sure that the dishes are executable.

Q: How has the process been leading up to the grand opening of Earls Yorkdale?
A: The process has been amazing. I’ve been super-excited. As soon as I knew that we were going to have a location at Yorkdale, I was just thrilled. We wanted to make sure that the guests here have something unique to gravitate toward, to get excited about. A beautiful location, which was key to it all, ensures that we create an awesome experience for the guests.

Q: What do you think guests are going to be most excited about?
A: I think the guests are going to be excited about being able to go somewhere with their family or partner and have a cool, casual and fun experience. That’s really what it is all about. It has to be social and enjoyable from top to bottom. I’m excited for them to try the Bangkok Bowl, the seafood tower and Yuzu Tuna Tataki.

Q: What is on the horizon for Earls? What goals have you set?
A: The future of Earls is to innovate and to find new international trends that we think our guests will love. That is non-stop. But [we want] to also really focus on massive, memorable and bold flavours.

Revered Sommelier David Stansfield meticulously developed the wine list featuring select quality wines from across Ontario and abroad. Sommelier Stansfield, an Italian and French wine scholar as well as a wine writer and educator, has worked in all facets of the wine industry – from cellar to sales to service. As a teenager, he worked as a cellar hand, assisting the winemaking production from processing fruit through fermentation to finishing and maturing wine. It is safe to say this man knows his wine.

Q: What was your pairing process when forming the Earls wine menu with the food menu?
A: I thought a ton about how people like to eat at Earls, which is coming with friends and having pizza and sushi on the table. You might have something spicy or a classic steak. So, I wanted to have a wine menu that can go with anything — wines that are versatile, fun, delicious and from all over the world.

Q: Do you have a favourite wine region?
A: Everyone loves asking sommeliers this question. I’ve got two kids, and that’s like asking which one is my favourite kid. If I was stuck on a desert island, and I only had one wine, I would go with a sparkling wine. I love champagne, of course. But I also love Canadian sparkling wine. On our menu, my favourite wine is the Benjamin Bridge Brut from the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.

Q: Earls is an evolving casual, fine-dining restaurant with growing popularity. What goals did you have in place when being appointed Corporate Sommelier?
A: Earls is a massive institution in Canada and now North America. I felt a lot of responsibility. Honestly, my goals were humble. I wanted to put delicious wines on the menu. Goal No. 1 was to include drinks that people love, and, then goal No. 2 was to put my own personal stamp on it. That way maybe people can learn a little bit about what I love in wine. So, I snuck in some cool natural wines, as well as organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines. That was important to me as well.


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Marc Castaldo

Marc Castaldo