Superstar Chef Antonio Park is taking his culinary vision to new heights

May 26, 2017

Antonio Park embodies what it is to be a true Canadian celebrity chef. An immigrant with a diverse background who has worked the world over, Park owns and operates a handful of destination restaurants in Montreal, each of which elevate the city’s food scene with their own unique offering. His high-profile stint as a judge on the Food Network’s cult hit Chopped Canada simply seals the deal and word is he’s now prepping for a Toronto debut.
After a recent fabulous evening and unparalleled meal at the famous Park sushi restaurant on Victoria Avenue in Montreal’s Westmount, I felt inspired to highlight Chef Antonio Park as an exciting brand builder and influencer. At Think Retail we are always interested in following marque concepts and Park’s growing collection of restaurants, markets and cafes are definitely worth watching.
A student of the world (his family moved to Canada in 1990), Chef Park learned the importance of fresh, from-scratch cooking from his mother, but also went to culinary school in Japan where he trained under masters, perfecting, then evolving, his approach to create menus that take sushi, seafood and other fare to new levels.
He’s been a chef in Tokyo, Osaka, New York and Toronto, but lucky for us, he returned to Montreal and in 2012 opened his first restaurant, the now-famous Park (named after his late father).
It’s an exquisite culinary experience unlike any other. His food stands apart, embodying who he is—a taste of his Korean heritage, Japanese training and the South American flavours of a childhood spent in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
His reputation for quality is unparalleled. For instance, he imports his fish live from Japan to ensure ultimate freshness. And, in 2015, he became the first chef in Canada to secure a license to import and serve Japanese Kobe beef. It’s efforts such as these that help solidify Park restaurant’s status as a marquee space.
He capitalized on this by opening the adjacent Sous Chef Marche Gourmand, which sells a selection of healthy organic foods and homemade juices.
And, Chef Park brings his love of Latin cuisine to the forefront with his restaurant Lavanderia (named after his mother), which serves South American favourites (with a twist) and is conveniently located on the same block as Park restaurant, enabling him to oversee both kitchens.
In essence, Chef Park dominates Victoria Avenue, which is also home to his catering and events company, Trout Lake, and his latest endeavor, Café Bazin, a café/pastry concept that is to be presided over by Park restaurant’s executive pastry chef, Bertrand Bazin.
Of course, his collection of Montreal restaurants would not be complete without a downtown presence, which he delivers with Jatoba (a fresh take on the Japanese-South American fusion) and Kampai Garden, which reinvents the traditional beer garden with legendary cocktails and delectable bites in a beautiful leafy space at 1616 St. Catherine Street West, in the heart of the city.
Chef Park’s restaurants are destinations among the who’s who, attracting a celebrity clientele that spans Neil Patrick Harris and Katy Perry to former hometown Habs favourite P.K. Subban.
As illustrated by his flourishing mini-empire, Chef Park brings to the table much more than celebrated culinary skills—he possesses a tenacious business acumen. Each of his concepts is unique, while on brand, adding to the city’s foodscape with unbeatable food, but also great atmosphere that’s always ahead of the curve. He has an incredible eye for design and insight into the experiential component of the restaurant business. With several concepts under his belt, Chef Park boasts a proven track record and his vision is ripe for expansion.
At Think Retail, we love that Chef Park calls Montreal home and has chosen this city as the place to lay the foundation for his empire. However, we believe this culinary visionary has the potential to make his mark in cities across the country and beyond. He is already preparing to open his first restaurant in Toronto’s posh Yorkville area and no doubt this is just the beginning of an exciting period of growth for his business.  
Park Chef is a man of the world, who speaks six languages—English, French, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese and Japanese—making him the ideal super chef in a multicultural country like Canada. We can’t wait to see what he does next.
We’d love to hear what you think. Contact the Think Retail team