Chef Craig Wong’s Patois celebrates 10 years in Toronto

It’s refreshing to hear success stories these days and when we learned Patois was celebrating its 10th anniversary we couldn’t be more excited! The restaurant’s lasting power is a testament to not only the hard work of Chef and Restauranteur Craig Wong, and his team, but also for Toronto’s love for great food, great vibes, and great people.

Craig Wong’s experience in the food industry goes beyond the past decade. He attended culinary school at the prestigious L’Institut Paul Bocuse in France. Then, he honed his skills in kitchens including Michelin-starred European establishments before returning to Toronto.

Chef Craig Wong's Patois celebrates 10 years in Toronto
Photo by George Pimentel Photography

But it was Patois that really was his baby. The restaurant opened in 2014 on Dundas Street West with much enthusiasm from the food loving Toronto community. It wasn’t like anything else in the city. It also wasn’t a white table clothed fine dining establishment like those he had previously worked in.

This vibrant restaurant brought a new tasty vision intertwining  Jamaican and Chinese dishes unlike any other. I mean, we have tons of Jamaican restaurants and hundreds of Chinese restaurants from different regions across the city and GTA. Yes, we also have Hakka restaurants too. But this is taking the best of all worlds – flavours, spices and cooking techniques. Then, create dishes like Jerk Lobster Chow Mein and Pineapple Bun Burgers that are OFF.THE.CHARTS! And all with a fun and relaxed vibe! Patois became a league of its own.

Chef Craig Wong's Patois celebrates 10 years in Toronto
Photo by George Pimentel Photography

We had a chance to chat with Craig as we reflect on the past ten years…

Reflecting on the past 10 years, what were some of the most unforgettable moments for you?

A couple that had their first date at Patois returned for their engagement celebrations. Chatting with them and knowing that they had their first date with us makes us happy.

Back in the pandemic, our team came together and set up our restaurant to sort out donated vegetables to make individual boxes, working together to give out to people in need. It was a real moment of togetherness with our staff that really brought the team together/

Shortly before her Oscar win, Michelle Yeoh joined us at Patois. I got to cook for her and dine with her, enjoying the dishes alongside her.

You’ve also brought Patois on the road and recently to Shanghai, what was that experience like? And where are there any fun exchanges?

Jamaican patties are such an iconic food in Toronto and I was so happy to share my JunePlum patties with people in Shanghai who have never had one before and didn’t even know what a patty is.

The entire trip to Shanghai and Guangzhao was transformative because of the group we were travelling with. We all come from different walks of life, some of us from restaurants, some entertainment. We are all creatives who share similar outlooks on life, but all come from a different perspective. We all genuinely got along despite our wide age gap. It was an eye-opening trip and Felt like a once in a lifetime thing but, I hope we do it again together soon.

Guangzhao is known for having a culture of eating delicacies, some of which are legal, and some are not legal. With some of our friends from the industry, we got to try some spectacular dishes. I’ll leave it at that.

Chef Craig Wong's Patois celebrates 10 years in Toronto
Photo by George Pimentel Photography

Speaking of your patties…Patois added June Plum – a pantry and our go-to for the most amazing patties in the city (hard crush on the brisket/oxtail gravy)! Recently, you’ve expanded another space and now offer the Hardo Studios – can you tell us more about that?

“Hardo Studios,” is our new kitchen studio designed for recipe testing, cooking classes, intimate private dinners, and content creation. This studio, sponsored by KitchenAid, is a space for culinary innovation, a hub where people in the industry can gather, create, and share insights, findings, and food.

Now that the space has launched, I’m looking forward to collaborating with others in the space to create great content.

Tell us also about the new patio/bar (former Mignonette) as well.

We’re excited about this new partnership and looking forward to sharing more as it develops.

Photo by George Pimentel Photography

Tell us what you love about the Toronto food scene.

Toronto is a diverse, with lots of opportunities for young up and coming chefs to start something new. They can start a business around their passion, as I did 10 years go with Patois.

Ummm….care to share your corn soup recipe? It’s SO good!

Thanks! The soup served at our anniversary party was such a great hit we’re considering putting it on the menu as a feature! Find it at Patois coming soon!

Photo by George Pimentel Photography

Patois celebrates their 10th anniversary this month and to kick it off, they had a private party with friends, family, and faithful Patois OGs. It was a night of great food (yes patties, fried chicken, and pineapple bun burgers!) as libations! With support from friends at Appleton Estate Rum, Red Stripe Beer, Flying Monkeys Craft Beer, Tawse Winery, Retrokid, Chronic Ink, Tosho Knife Arts, Eatable Popcorn. And amazing DJ Mike Roc kept everyone on their feet, too!

And the celebration continues as the Patois team is intruding on exciting new items and nostalgic menus that highlight their culinary journey! Look out as they bring back favourite dishes from the past decade and the future!  There will also be giveaways including contests — see their Instagram page for details.

Chef Craig Wong's Patois celebrates 10 years in Toronto
Photo by George Pimentel Photography

Congrats to Craig, his wife Ivy, and the entire Patois family. We wish you many more years ahead!

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About Sonya Davidson 943 Articles
Covering events, openings and all the deliciousness in Toronto.