First Look: Copetin by Claudio Aprile opens in the former home of Origin King East


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Image: Yvonne Tsui

Claudio Aprile wears many hats — that of restaurateur and celebrity chef, to name two. But perhaps a phoenix rising from the ashes is another apt description for the chef who closed both Colborne Lane and Origin and now returns with Copetín at King East and Church.

This time, he’s partnered with Henry Wu (Luckee and Fring’s) who Aprile worked with for six years during his stint as executive chef at Senses. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Aprile compares his journey to that of writing a book and “I want to have chapters in that book.” On Copetín, he states this is the “I don’t care what people think and I’m just doing what I want to do without fear of criticism” chapter. 

“I’ve always admired people who were a little strange – the Miles Davis’ of the world – they just do what they wanna do,” he explains.    

Those who frequented Origin King East will feel a sense of familiarity in the space that has been divided into three distinct areas, each offering a different vibe, menu and experience. The main dining room where the kitchen is located will be “a little more controlled than what you have on the other side, which is the bar side, which is going to be a little more unapologetic, a little louder,” Aprile says. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

The dining room menu is divided into starters, main and dessert. Here, you’ll also find Aprile’s “culinary playground” – the kitchen counter. He hopes to create dishes with “massive flavours, conversation-stopping flavours” but very “thoughtful food.”


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

The bar and lounge area will also feature a menu of bar snacks such as Origin’s famed duck taco (the only legacy menu item to live on at Copetín), a lobster hand roll and octopus brava. It also houses the private dining room, lined with vinyl record labels ranging from David Bowie to Miles Davis, the records themselves serving as a motif beneath the glass table. A piece of wall art of Johnny Cash by Montreal artist Stikki Peaches, who takes iconic figures and celebrities and transforms them also serves as a conversation piece.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Thirdly, there will be a patio which has its own separate “kitchen” and menu of mostly bowls, fresh dishes and things that can be cooked over a grill. It is also home to the first Botanist Bar (so-named for the iconic Islay dry gin) where guests can handpick from the built-in herb garden to infuse into the cocktails, which also feature Aprile’s sous-vide fruit infusions.

The name Copetín originated from Aprile’s mom and means “drop-in, aperitif, it means community and social.” The food at Copetin will be inspired by Toronto’s culinary background, its diverse neighbourhoods and cultures.

On closing Origin Aprile states “I felt bored, I needed to make moves – recharge and feel a bit of fear that I haven’t experienced in awhile.” As a restaurateur he was a “jack of all trades, master of none” and Copetín is less of a “return to the kitchen” seeing as he never really left to being more “focused” on the kitchen.

“As a chef living in Toronto,” he concludes, “there is no excuse to cook boring food. The mosaic, the diverse flavours and ingredients… I’ve been doing it all my life.”

Copetin, 107 King St. E., 416-603-8009 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

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Yvonne lives to eat. She’s known to her friends as the “Ask Alexa” for the best restaurants in cities all over North America. When she's not doing on-the-ground, scrappy PR for TouchBistro, she's a freelance food and drink writer and tells the origin stories, struggles, and successes of restaurateurs – veteran and new.

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