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Team Planta

Today we are so thrilled to share with you the blog that we have created to provide you with behind the scenes content of what goes on day to day at Planta. Expect to find recipes, 'how-to' tutorials, stories about those who make and supply our food, and more!

Our goal at Planta is to give you an experience that differs from the majority of restaurants throughout the city by bringing you incredible pairings made of 100% plant based foods and ingredients. We’re here to inspire you to step beyond your conditioning and let us amaze you with the powerful flavor and health benefits of plants.

Behind these creative dishes is a strong team of culinary geniuses whom we would love to introduce you to. But firstly, our restaurant would obviously not be here if it weren’t for Steven Salm and Chef David Lee. After lengthy careers in fine dining, these two had had an awakening that eating plant based is more sustainable for the environment, and not long after, Planta was born.

Steven Salm |  President of CHG

What is the most rewarding part of running Planta? 

SS: I get pretty excited when people experience Planta for the first time and make comments that suggest they didn’t expect to 'be so full' or 'had no idea plant based food can taste like this.'

Do you see another Planta opening in the future?

SS: Absolutely.

What is one thing you would like to see added to the menu?

SS: A second burger that is entirely different than our signature.

Favourite kind of plant based cheese?

SS: Chef Lee's almond feta.

If you’re not at Planta you are...? 

SS: Another CHG restaurant.....just kidding, Ramen Isshin on College Street.

Chef David Lee

Which menu item has been the toughest to perfect? What was difficult about it? What made it work in the end?

DL: The Burger - 3 days before opening no one liked the burger. I was crushed. I wanted the burger to be gluten-free and nut-free, so we just did a lot of testing and worked together until we perfected it.

Is there a menu item that took off that surprised you?

DL: Yes the Cauliflower Tots, we can’t make enough of them ...

Aside from the menu, what has been different about Planta compared to your other restaurant (Nota Bene)? 

DL: Plant based food really makes you think. Roasting a chicken is simple - add seasoning, cook it for 1.5 hours and it will taste okay.

Cooking Plant Based foods is very difficult. There are many more components in making a dish, and it can be far more challenging to achieve the textures and flavours that you’re going for.

If you had to recommend the perfect meal to a first time guest, what would it be? 

DL: Coconut Ceviche to start, The Planta Burger for the main course and the Triple Chocolate Brownie for dessert! 

Chef Emma Herrera | Chef De Cuisine 

Emma moved to Toronto a few years ago from her home island of Trinidad in the West Indies. While in culinary school, she got a job at Notabene with Chef David Lee where she learned how to cook professionally. Emma loved the hustle and heat of a busy exciting kitchen. As a vegetarian, she has always been passionate about plant-based cooking and loves sharing her enthusiasm for vegetables with the Planta audience.  

If you’re not at Planta you are...?

EH: At home with my guys; my partner and our two cats.

Favorite vegan treat? 

EH: Our cinnamon buns are so yummy!

What is one thing you would like to see added to the menu? 

EH: I cant wait for the spring veggies to come in- fresh peas and fava beans, Ontario asparagus and wild ramps are my favourites.

 Chef Thalia Thiessen | Sous Chef 

Thalia is originally from a little mountain town in British Columbia called Nelson. Growing up on a farm she has always loved vegetables - watching them grow from a seed into something with endless possibilities. When she first came to Toronto she met David Lee through working at his restaurant Nota Bene. When the opportunity came along to be apart of opening Planta she was excited and up for the challenge. Being apart of Planta has been an innovative experience of working with plants in new and creative way.

When you’re not at Planta you are?

TT: You can usually find me hanging out with my dog Small Toma or outside - trying (with no success) to find a mountain to climb ;)

I also love to cook and bake in my spare time - always thinking about new flavors and ideas.

Favourite plant based treat?

TT: Coconut based ice cream.

Chef Jennifer Wall | Sous Chef 

What has been the biggest challenge for you since you started working in a plant based kitchen?

JW: The biggest challenge of working in a plant based kitchen is finding balance. Instead of looking at it like you are replacing meat I try to see it as finding a balance between flavours and texture while also being nutritionally satisfying.

If you’re not at Planta you are...?

JW: When I'm not at Planta I'm hibernating! I'm usually at home curled up with a cup of tea, but come summer I'll be outside as much as possible. I love hiking or I'll make iced tea and find a shady spot under a tree.

Favourite vegan treat?

JW: Anything with coconut whip, it's more decadent than regular whip cream!

What is one thing you would like to see added to the menu?

JW: One thing I would like to see added to the menu would be a fresh baked pretzel with all sorts of mustard and house made pickles. That, or a selection of hydroponic micro greens and vegetables grown from our very own in house solar powered self sustaining garden, but that's more of a fantasy for now!