Takashi Ito is no stranger to Victoria, Canada. He’s been a fixture in the city’s restaurant scene for a long time, but he’s recently made a location change and it’s a big one.
Takashi Ito was born in Sendai, Japan. Despite his fondness for food and cooking, he actually entered the university in that country as a law school student. His dedication to one passion didn’t last long, and he ended up graduating with both a cooking school diploma and a law degree in 1980. It was after that he decided that he needed to narrow his options and Takashi and wife Chika left for Canada, where he began to work his way up through the restaurant ranks.
The Fairmont chain had been home for Ito since he arrived at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary in 1993. After a year there as an Executive Sous Chef, he then began a nine year run as the Executive Chef. In 2003, he moved to Victoria and became the Executive Chef for The Fairmont Princess. He remained there until May of 2011, when he left the chain and moved down the road to the AURA Waterfront Restaurant at the Inn at Laurel Point.
When Chef Ito talks about food, his face lights up. He combines his Japanese heritage (don’t be surprised to find soy sauce used in some unique ways) with Europe and local flavors. He is excited about “creating seasonal and local dishes” in a place with a “long season that’s great for chefs. I will create a menu by thinking about the people who eat it” The long season he’s referring to is the ideal whether in this Pacific Northwest city and surrounding areas, bringing and endless array of fresh fruit and vegetables, using organic wherever possible.
The new menu at AURA, assisted by the Executive Sous Chefs Castro Boateng, and Patrick
Gayler, will include lots of variety. Seafood Items such as “Tuna and Tomato Poke” and “Broiled Sablefish with Aka Miso” will be featured along side dishes like “Grilled Caesar Salad with Soft Poached Quail’s Egg” and “Roasted Duck Breast with Cauliflower and Vanilla Puree.” Even dessert will toy with the unusual, like the “Elderflower Cordial Granita” he created at his tasting party.
Food isn’t the only thing that’s becoming more local at Aura. Ito is making sure that there’s “at least 75% local wine.” He’s also interested in working with the cider house, gin producer (Victoria Spirits) and local brewers. Small plates and cheese platters are also important here, where some of the customers just come to snack and enjoy drinks on the patio.
The AURA Waterfront restaurant has been named one of the Top 10 Restaurants in Canada by Where Magazine. Whether you are inside or out, you will get beautiful views of Victoria’s Inner Harbor. Chef Takashi Ito is planning on keeping all those tables filled with customers who enjoy the food as much as the scenery.