Food. Setting. Vibe. When it comes to events, that’s a Triple Crown-winning combination at Turf Lounge no matter what the occasion or season.
It’s an even better bet with Chef Tom Brodi now overseeing the hospitality helm of the tony Bay Street restaurant and wagering lounge, part of the Woodbine Entertainment Group. Here’s how:
Local Culinary Pedigree
Growing up in downtown Toronto, food was a focus of Brodi’s Hungarian family. A favourite part of young Brodi’s day was helping his grandmother create delicious dishes from fresh, seasonal ingredients picked from their backyard garden and local markets. The daily cooking lessons taught the chef-in-the-making about farm-to-table inspiration long before it was chic!
After studying culinary arts at George Brown College, Brodi started his post-graduate career at private event venue Estates of Sunnybrook. He went on to hone his fine-dining chops at North 44 and in other five-star settings including the Gramercy Tavern in New York, and most recently, the Ritz-Carlton Toronto.
However, it was his 10 years in the kitchen at Canoe, including as Chef de Cuisine, that truly defined Brodi’s celebrated reputation and award-winning penchant for refined rustic food flavours and unique presentation styles.
A Fresh Approach
“Turf is unique,” says Brodi. “Our clientele is Bay Street with global tastes and expectations. With its grand setting, dining, simulcast horse racing and off-track betting, it is one of the city’s hidden gems.”
Since taking the culinary reins, Brodi’s signature expertise is delighting Turf regulars and new, appreciative diners. Delivering an artful spin on formal dining, Brodi masterfully marries upscale comfort food with inventive plating, using rough-hewn wooden boards and unique serving ware such as individual cast-iron pots. Rare is the appearance of a chafing dish on his buffet tables. Root vegetables are a hallmark garnish, so beautifully arranged they become edible centrepieces on a plate.
Brodi’s Bar Bites, such as charcuterie boards, are showstoppers! Other items on Turf’s new menus showcase his appetite for delicious simplicity. There is truffled popcorn with smoked B.C. salt, and chicken wings cured in sugar then sous vide with duck fat, fried and tossed in a truffled emulsion. A Tomahawk steak for sharing has gained a fast following: a 40-oz aged rib eye served on a wooden slab with harvest roots and chimichurri, sliced tableside.
Out-of-the-Gate Event Ideas
“Whether it’s a seated VIP dinner or a cocktail reception, the key to successful events is approachable food,” says Brodi.
He also believes it’s about customization which is why he enjoys personally working with each customer to deliver event menus and concepts that capture the moment. He encourages unique and interactive food ideas, such as poutine and grilled cheese stations with artful twists of high-end ingredients and novel serving ware.
Event planners have quickly discovered Brodi’s passion for sharing his food knowledge by inviting him to create and present an epicurean tasting menu, with each course curated with the origins of each ingredient. Or, consider a hands-on experience that begins with Brodi leading the group on a local market-shopping excursion. Back at Turf, guests prep their foraged ingredients under his watchful tutelage for the meal he prepares as their reward.
A Winning Setting
An interior revamp recently married the majestic architectural features of Turf’s Bay-Adelaide home, an old historic bank, with a lighter décor touch including accent colours, updated furnishings and local artwork.
“Handsome and feminine … a definite power combination,” notes Brodi.
For events and pre-dining receptions, Turf’s Atrium Bar (Capacity: 100) is magnificent with its soaring 40-ft ceiling, stonework walls and modern chandeliers. A main dining room makeover has expanded the space for better traffic flow and additional seating (Capacity: 90 seated). The Jockey Club is a new luxe lounge in which to play the horses. Two additional rooms offer privacy for meetings and intimate dining (Capacity: 24 to 44 seated).
The chance to lay a bet or two on a horse race is always exciting. Get the action started by gifting guests with complimentary betting vouchers and a “How to Bet” tutorial.
Check out Host Your Event for details on Turf Lounge amenities and Woodbine’s other great venues.