The head chef of downtown’s Baijiu, Alexei Boldireff, has an extensive repertoire of experience. From farms and butcher shops to bakeries and Michelin-star restaurants, Boldireff has staged (or interned) in restaurants around the world and across Canada to broaden his knowledge. “Everyone in the food industry has great things to teach, and the learning curve is so steep that you absorb so much information in such a short period of time,” he says. “It opens your eyes to a whole new world in terms of things you really like and you don’t necessarily like.”
Having been mentored by such chefs as Canada’s 100 Best’s 2016 Most Innovative Chef Justin Leboe and Top Chef Ireland’s Kevin Thornton, Boldireff has always enjoyed that aspect of the industry. It was this that compelled him to leave his food truck, S’WICH, for the larger kitchen at Baijiu. It allowed him to work with a larger staff and also work with a broader menu concept. Boldireff says, “I love having a team of people who I can train and develop and help them evolve in their careers.”
The Asian-fusion restaurant has launched a new chef menu, where customers entrust the kitchen staff with their dining experience and allow their courses to be chosen for them. “It’s for people who don’t really know what they want or are intimidated by the menu,” says Boldireff. They are also hoping to begin lunch service soon, with quick house-made bánh mì—Vietnamese sandwiches on freshly baked bread. And Boldireff himself enjoys participating in new events in the city, such as cooking a Russian dish to reflect his heritage for the upcoming REDx Talks.