Big time Toronto chef has opened his own restaurant in the heart of one of Toronto’s most prominent neighbourhoods.

Chef Sash Simpson spent the first 8 years of his life as an orphan, wandering the streets of Chennai, India. Chennai is the sixth most populous city in India, nestled on the Coromandel Coast of Bengal, and is currently experiencing a major water crisis. Simpson’s childhood home is a far cry from that of Forest Hill, one of Toronto’s most prestigious districts. However, when he was adopted by the founder of Families for Children and moved to the neighbourhood, he fit right in.

Simpson spent his adolescence preparing big meals. His adopted family was made up of 31 brothers and sisters from around the world, exposing him to international cuisines and perspectives. Noting his passion for food, his family encouraged him to start working in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher and busboy. He found his home at the legendary North 44, a five-star restaurant in the heart of Toronto’s Midtown, quickly rising through the ranks from a line cook to Executive Chef. Even without formal training, Chef Simpson has become one of the city’s most sought-after culinary creatives, with a thriving catering business and many high-profile clients.

Now, Chef Simpson is venturing out on his own. Sash Restaurant + Wine Bar opened a few weeks ago in Summerhill, just adjacent to where Simpson grew up. A neighbourhood he always admired, the chef believed his vision for a unique and upscale dining destination would fit right in.

“My aim is to make fine dining fun again,” Simpson said in a statement, “I want guests to experience flavours and ingredients I’ve grown up with throughout my life in an elegant yet approachable atmosphere.”

The restaurant offers an exquisite blend of globally inspired, locally-sourced ingredients that marries Simpson’s past and present life. Favourites are the Three “Ways” Ahi Tuna; the charcuterie featuring the Truffle Foie Gras Terrine, Duck Rillette, and Chilean Seabass; and the Halibut/Chips, an elevated version of the pub classic. The menus are designed quarterly to incorporate fresh seasonal ingredients. The bar menu debuted last week, and weekend brunch is on the horizon.

The interior of the restaurant is unparalleled. Designed by architecture and design firm Studio A/C, the restaurant boasts a sleek black and gold aesthetic and a gorgeous gradient colour scheme. The windows stretch wall-to-wall, giving diners a street-side West-facing view of the upscale neighbourhood.

Sash welcomes guests with warm smiles and attentive staff, curating a warmth not typically seen in fine dining. The atmosphere is strengthened by the in-house sommelier and mixologists, who are extremely knowledgeable about the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Plus, DJ Eric Ling infuses his own spark Thursday-Saturday evenings, with a live DJ set of classic and top 40 hits.

There is no doubt this highly anticipated space will become one of Toronto’s mainstay dining destinations. Simpson has the unique ability to approach his eponymous space from both an insider and global perspective; two worlds that exist harmoniously in Toronto finally meeting for one incredible experience.

Just like fellow Forest Hiller (and fan!), Sash Simpson started from the bottom. But now, after an inspiring upbringing and monumental success, he’s here to stay as one of Toronto’s culinary greats. If the few weeks since opening are telling, we’re sure Sash will be a hit.

Sash Restaurant + Wine Bar is open Monday-Friday, 11:30am-11pm and Saturdays 5pm-11pm. Located at 1133 Yonge St.