A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi

Reputed sommelier and current Service Director Sebastien Le Goff leads on Cactus Club Cafe’s eastward expansion

April 27, 2016

By Cactus Club / Photo: Rick Collins

Sebastien Le Goff has one word to describe the competition in Toronto: fierce. “You have to want things more than the guy next door,” says Cactus Club Cafe’s Service Director who followed the West Coast brand eastward to support its Ontario expansion last year.

Le Goff isn’t new to the big city. The Nantes, France native spent five years in T-Dot before Vancouver’s culinary scene drew him west. “Every chef in Toronto was talking about a few big Vancouver names,” recalls Le Goff, listing Chef Rob Feenie among them. “I always wanted to meet him.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Since the acclaimed sommelier joined Cactus Club Cafe in 2011 the Feenie/Le Goff duo have brought fine dining to the masses. “Rob spends a lot of time in the dining room. We build a real relationship between food and wine.”

Photo: Luis Valdizon
Photo: Luis Valdizon

At Cactus Club Cafe both elements emphasize environmental sustainability and locally sourced products. “The menu reflects our proximity to Asia, to the Pacific Ocean and our partnership with initiatives like Green Table and OceanWise™,” he shares. Local influence also seeps into the contemporary West Coast interior aesthetic with original artwork by B.C. talents like Brent Comber, Graham Gillmore and First Nations carver Beau Dick.

Of course, things are different in Toronto. The 15,000 square foot First Canadian Place restaurant, which features four distinct concepts, is positioned in the heart of the bustling financial district. “250,000 people work around here Monday to Friday,” tells Le Goff. “It’s like its own city.”

Toronto’s palette is proving to be different too. Experimental items that have seen huge success out east include the Beef Duo, Duck Confit and Niagra wines. But regardless of the location, Cactus Club Cafe’s incredible team culture remains consistent. “I’ve never been apart a part of anything like this before,” raves Le Goff—and Toronto has recently added the icing to his Cactus Club Cafe cake. “We just put Negroni on tap.”

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