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It appears larger-than-life chef and personality Matty Matheson is putting his name on another exciting new project.
This upcoming opening isn't the first time the three have worked together; Chomyshyn and Guajardo were vendors at Matheson's 2019 food festival, MattyFest. Representing themselves as Balam, a restaurant they were gearing up to open pre-COVID, the two doled out barbacoa tacos to the delight of festival-goers.
Balam's barbacoa tacos from MattyFest.
As Balam finally seems to be coming to fruition (albeit as a slightly refocused endeavour), the project is still very much under wraps, but the menu will feature birria, a dish specific to the Jalisco region of Mexico made of slowly stewed goat, beef or mutton. The stew's shredded meat is typically served in corn tortillas and filled with Oaxaca cheese and griddled, resulting in a crisp cheese skirt. The stew's consommé is served alongside and makes for a rich broth to dip the tacos.
The popularity of birria has exponentially grown over the past year in Toronto, as more people seek out the hearty stew and restaurants like Comal y Canela see an influx of attention and new pop-ups like Emenel Birria offer kits to make the tacos at home.
With the surge in demand, it comes as no surprise that the two chefs and partners would choose birria as their next concept. The pair are no strangers to spearheading Mexican fare with a unique and modern approach and have made quite a name for themselves amongst Toronto's hospitality industry.
Chef Julio Guajardo (left) and chef Kate Chomyshyn (right).
Guajardo, born in Mexico City and Chomyshyn, originally from Montreal, met while attending Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute. After graduating, the couple worked in some of the most impressive Montreal restaurants, such as Tuck Shop and Garde Manger, before undertaking their own project. LA CaTRINA, specializing in paletas, a Mexican popsicle known for using fresh fruits and vegetables, became an instantaneous hit and delivered to vendors all over Montreal.
The couple then relocated to Toronto and were involved in Kensington Market's El Rey and vegan Mexican restaurant Rosalinda before becoming part of the original opening team and co-owners of Grant van Gameren's lauded Mexican restaurant, Quetzal before abruptly leaving following disputes over their agreement.
Chef Matty Matheson (left), chef Julio Guajardo (centre) and chef Kate Chomyshyn.
Birria Balam will be a new adventure for the two and if Matheson is involved, the opening is guaranteed to stir up quite the anticipation. An opening date has yet to be announced but keep an eye out for more details to come.