SURREY — David Jorge was floored by the lineups that greeted the opening of the 170-seat S+L Kitchen & Bar in Langley.
“The response was amazing, actually quite overwhelming, especially on opening weekend,” said Jorge, who developed the menu for the Joseph Richard Group-owned venture.
“Any restaurant can be busy but with the extra buzz of JRG developing a new concept, and that new concept being developed by me, a guy who won ‘MasterChef Canada,’ added to the hype.… We had hour-and-a-half lineups. It’s not that now, but we’re full every night.”
Jorge, 40, earned the title of “MasterChef Canada” on the CTV show last May, at the conclusion of its second season.
The husband and father of two has long worked in the family business, Avante Concrete, and worked on his cooking skills at home.
Last fall, months after his “MasterChef Canada” adventures, the self-described “Concrete Cook” – his Twitter handle is @concrete_cook – signed on with JRG in a partnership that involves working with Ryan Moreno, CEO of the pub/restaurant chain.
“I’m excited to have David join our team, especially since we’ve known each other since high school and we have both roots in the Surrey community,” Moreno said in announcing Jorge’s hiring.
For his part, Jorge was thrilled to start work on a menu for a steak-and-lobster restaurant (hence the S+L name), which opened on 200th Street at 84th Avenue in late January.
“I was brought onto the team to adjust and work on the whole JRG brand and all the foods, but just as I came on, the concept of S+L was coming to fruition, so the timing for all of us was perfect,” Jorge told the Now.
“I had the amazing experience of developing a menu for a new restaurant that happened to be a steakhouse, and what guy doesn’t want to do that, right? It’s very cool endeavor. I’m the corporate chef for the whole brand but the S+L menu is all mine.”
Jorge and his family live on a hobby farm in the Panorama area of Surrey.
Cooking is in his Portuguese blood, of course, but Jorge will remain involved in the concrete business, even as S+L eats up a lot of his time.
“My brother has taken a stronger role (in Avante Concrete), basically the operational role I’ve done for 10 years, but that was coming anyways,” Jorge said.
“But I still do eight to 10 hours a day in concrete and five to six hours at the restaurant,” he added. “It’s that thing, be careful of what you ask for, because you may just get it, because it’s real. You know, I’ve wanted this my whole life and now that I have it, I’m taking every advantage of it. I’m just totally grasping the opportunity, I love it.”