LUST recently celebrated their 5 year anniversary, a huge accomplishment for any Toronto restaurant, but an even more notable triumph when you consider the paradox of running a completely covert dining concept. Luke’s Underground Supper Table is Kensington Market’s destination for avant-garde dining. If you haven’t been to one of Chef Luke’s BYOB secret menu dinner parties, you’re about to experience a serious dose of FOMO, but stick with me, Luke’s hidden gem is just getting started.
A little backstory…Luke’s journey as a chef began as a child, working at Luke’s Gastronomy, the Kingston restaurant that he shared with his mom. The space was his home base, school and culinary institute all wrapped up in one, and after helming the kitchen as exec chef for 8 years, the mom/son shop closed up shop in search of greener pastures. Considering the bulk of their customers were making the pilgrimage east on the 401, Toronto was a natural spot for their next venture.
Luke is obsessed with pushing boundaries in the search for that new next. One adjective that frequently pops up in conversation is ‘sexy’, in describing his mission with LUST, it’s more than just ordering a meal, it’s a movement in it’s own right.
“People just love coming into a venue and meeting new people, giving them a new experience like nothing else they can get in a restaurant. A 20 year old bartender sitting next to a 70 year old real estate mogul, and they’re both bonding over something intimate like food, it’s a totally different vibe to anything else in the city” says Luke. His playlist sets the tone for the evening, a mashup of hours of soul, rock, funk, hip hop, an equalizer for communal dining that becomes just as surprising as his secret menu.
Sexy Laksa, with Sautéed Noodles, Fragrant Broth, Crispy Shallots, Cilantro, Chilli, Ginger
A stint on season one of Chopped Canada, a spotlight on L.A based food chronicle Crave, a TedX talk at Queen’s University have all moulded and forced Luke to cook and act beyond his tender age of 28. While some were still honing their knife skills, Luke was learning the ins and outs of what Romans used to eat and other quirky food history on his self-taught and self-guided food education. Deciding to become a chef at age 11, Luke was home schooled throughout high school which granted him a creative license in terms of training. He immersed himself in cooking at his mom’s restaurant and kickstarted his journey into the restaurant business when he accepted the title of Executive Chef at age 15. Located in Kingston, Luke’s garnered critical acclaim for the rookie chef, and while most of his peers were practicing for their driver’s test, Luke was fascinated by flavours, injecting his rampant enthusiasm for cooking on each plate.
Slow-Cooked Pork with Roti Canai, Soy, Sesame, and Scallion
While you can grab tickets for his weekly dinner parties, consider making it even more memorable by filling it with friends, and taking over his space for your own private party. Luke can customize the menu to your preferences, while still of course keeping hush-hush on the specifics. Dietary issues, allergies- mental or otherwise, can all be addressed ahead of time, or even on the spot. Chef Luke is nimble and thinks fast on his feet, aided by super awww-worthy Carrie, his mother and partner in LUST since, well, ever. The duo works efficiently to clear plates and usher in new courses, with Luke explaining the culinary breakdown and influence of each dish, which are of course, insanely creative and unique- I challenge you to find any one else in Toronto who’s crushing it like Chef Luke.
Lusty pals Robyn, Heather & Carole
Luke’s talent and ability to sustain this momentum at LUST is obviously a testament to the person, doing the right job. He’s unfiltered and unapologetic, he wants to push the envelope and evoke change in the industry. Describing his supper club as the ‘anti-restaurant’, with no liquor licence (his L.U.S.T venue is strictly BYOB), menu or formal address, Luke is steering just about as far away from the restaurant label as possible. Traditional dining has become stale, boring and safe. LUST is the perfect antidote to end that.
Beef Rendang with Tender Short Ribs, Pandan Rice, Peanuts, Kaffir, and Lime
And the food, really, the food is seductive. Our menu was a love letter to South East Asia, with Luke’s careful reconstruction of the dishes, each created with historical and geographical influences in mind, is out of this world. He uses ingredient rich Kensington Market as his pantry, with spices and produce from far-off places as the structure for each dish.
Egg Tart with Caramel Lace + Vanilla Shard, with Toasted Coconut Ice Cream + Ataulfo Mango
Tempted? Yah, we thought so. Scope out all the upcoming LUST dates, or book your own private party with Luke- and let him know Auburn Lane sent you!
All the info for upcoming events can be found here- LUST