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Restaurant Pearl Morissette
People Food & Wine

Chef Q&A: Daniel Hadida and Eric Robertson of Restaurant Pearl Morissette

November 14, 2023

Named one of VineRoutes’ 25 Top Restaurants in Ontario, Restaurant Pearl Morissette has been impressing guests with their dynamic and celebrated farm-to-table fine cuisine and wine list since its opening in 2017


Described on their website as an ‘ambitious fine dining experience, featuring an ever-changing menu of regional ingredients,’ Restaurant Pearl Morissette (RPM for short) is truly a dining experience you’ll never forget, thanks to the impeccable work of co-chefs Daniel Hadida and Eric Robertson.

Inspired by the environment and the importance of small organic farming, Chef Daniel Hadida introduced the idea of opening a restaurant at Pearl Morissette winery reflecting the integrity of the local ingredients. Prior, Hadida held esteemed positions at premier restaurants worldwide, including chef positions at Le Châteaubriand and as a Pastry Chef at the Michelin-starred Septime in Paris. He’s also worked as the Chef Tournant at Toronto’s highly rated Nota Bene.

Read Also: Cork & Coast: ‘A place for the whole community’

Chef Eric Robertson brings his international influences to RPM and his passion for creating menus from local and thoughtfully sourced ingredients. Originally from Brantford, Ontario, Robertson has always had a dedication to agricultural movements. He spent time cooking in France, Sweden and Belgium, first working as a cook before moving up to a Sous Chef at the Michelin-starred In de Wulf in Dranouter, and later, held the position of Chef de Cuisine at their sister restaurant, De Vitrine, in Ghent. After returning to Canada, he worked as the Sous Chef at Relais & Châteaux designated Langdon Hall in Cambridge.

Hadida and Robertson cultivated a friendship while working overseas. The two had kept in touch throughout their time in Europe and beyond, sharing experiences as Canadian chefs with similar culinary backgrounds and passions. VineRoutes recently sat down for a Q&A with both Hadida and Robertson to learn a little more about the magic behind Restaurant Pearl Morissette:


VineRoutes: The menu at Restaurant Pearl Morissette is ever changing with the seasons. Can you explain how you craft the menu? Do you both work on this together? Help us understand how the genius happens!

Chef Eric: It’s a collaborative effort from the farmers to the kitchen. We start with what’s available from the farm, fisherfolk or other producers. From there we start to fill in what stays the same from the week before and what will need to change. We’ll put a rough idea in place in the days leading up to our first service of the week, then on the day, we make small tweaks and adjustments based on how the products come in. The ideas can come from anywhere really. We try to anchor the flavour profiles in something familiar but lean on the attributes of the ingredients of our pantry to draw out spice, sweetness, acidity etc. 

It’s an exciting way to work both for myself and the team here. We’re constantly reacting to the seasons and ingredients, and through that constant challenge you start to become a bit of an expert on the ingredients we grow or work with.

Restaurant Pearl Morissette

Restaurant Pearl Morissette captures the essence of Ontario’s finest ingredients with each season.

VR: What is your favourite dish you’ve ever put on the menu?

Chef Eric: I wish I could name one! I’m still proud of the first menu we put together for the opening of RPM. It was a few less courses than we do now and much harder fought but it used many of the same ingredients and purveyors we use to this day at the restaurant – it’s a nice way to look back to see how far we’ve come and also how deep our relationship has grown with not only the ingredients we use but the people who help us put food on the table.

VR: Can you please speak to the importance of creating a menu that complements the wine?

Chef Daniel: We try to work holistically with the garden, wine team, service team, etc to ensure that the whole experience is complementary and invokes positive feelings and curiosity. 

Chef Eric: Wine is like the final seasoning to the dish.

VR: What is the experience you hope your guests leave feeling they’ve had?

Chef Daniel: I hope they leave satisfied, curious, relaxed, and invigorated. 

Chef Eric: I hope that the guests leave feeling better than how they arrived. I hope that we can be a sort of oasis from life outside the restaurant for a few hours. If they’re interested, I love to be able to share with them a bit of the passion behind what we do and why we do it, but sometimes I also realize that some guests are just in to celebrate a birthday or anniversary and that’s great too!

VR: What are you most looking forward to about the new (fall season) menu? 

Chef Daniel: Change is inevitable. Accepting that is a rational decision. I always look forward to learning and exploring new ingredients and different facets of familiar ones. 

Chef Eric: I love this time of year where the last of the summer produce overlaps with the sweet root vegetables. It’s always exciting to have peppers, corn and squash all on the same menu.

VR: How does it feel to have Pearl Morissette receive such rave reviews and what is next?

Chef Daniel: I’m happy that people enjoy the experience. I look forward to developing the experience at the restaurant, the Bakehouse, events, collaborations, and our continued evolution as a team. 

Chef Eric: Well, it certainly feels better than bad reviews. The support we’ve had both locally and internationally has been great since the start and definitely helped us “feel” like we were on the right track, even in the early days. What’s next? No idea, we’re still just trying to get set up for service each day!

Four rapid-fire questions:

What is your go-to midnight snack?

Chef Daniel: Meat.

Chef Eric: Medium chicken wings or cheese and good quality crackers.

Your favourite wine at RPM?

Chef Daniel: Cuvée Mon Unique Gamay | 2014

Chef Eric: Cuvée Blu | 2014, 2015, 2016

What would your last meal be?

Chef Daniel: Hemlock (potentially).

Chef Eric: A fried perch dinner with celery bread from the Erie Beach Hotel in Port Dover.

What is one ingredient you can’t live without?

Chef Daniel: Salt.

Chef Eric: Water.

 

In addition to Restaurant Pearl Morissette, you’ll want to discover the Pearl Morissette Winery, founded in 2006 and the RPM Bakehouse in Jordan Village that opened in 2022, where their exceptional attention to flavour and quality is present as always.

– Shannon Mastaler is the Lifestyle Editor for VineRoutes

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