Antonio Park’s tutelage as a world-renowned chef started in his mother’s kitchen, in Argentina.
Thanks to a fresh garden that spanned acres, and his mom’s insistence on creating everything from scratch, the drive for perfection, sustainability, and farm-to-table cooking became his raison d’être.
This mantra carried him through years of training under Japan’s most revered cooking masters, fed his ambition to work his way up from a dishwashing station to running two of the most noted restaurants in Montreal, and moonlighting as a judge on one of Food Network Canada’s top-rated programs–‘Chopped’.
"My life starts in South America: Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.
That’s where I spent my childhood. My mom doesn’t want me to say that I’m born in Argentina; she wants me to say I’m Korean. So I’m a Korean Montrealer who grew up in Asunción, Buenos Aires, and Rio. What I really am is a messed-up Latino with kimchi in his blood who is seriously in love with sashimi. The food I make at Park is who I am as a person—a blend of the countries I’ve lived in and the cultures that formed me.
I learned how to cook from my mom, watching her make things from scratch. The simplest things ever: milling your own spices at home on a stone, drying your own gochugaru peppers, fermenting your own miso, making your own soya sauce. She opened my eyes to everything. How to skin apples. How to cut green onion, napa cabbage, daikon. She gave me so much grief if I wouldn’t peel garlic properly."
"We wouldn’t go to the market to buy fruits and vegetables; they were all in the garden. Pomegranates, yucca, mandarins, zucchinis, grapes, watermelons, eggplants, pumpkins: you name it, you can grow anything you want there. We had a massive backyard; 47,000 square feet. Full of produce.
To this day, the importance of freshness and top-quality ingredients defines what I do.
I grew up around small farmers, sustainable fishermen, and local food before anyone used those terms to describe them."
"So this is who I am, whatever this mix is. Forget the word fusion. I make sushi, I ferment kimchi, I love asado. I’ve been a chef in Tokyo, Osaka, New York, Toronto, and Montreal. People think it’s a sushi place, or a Korean restaurant, but it’s also the South American flavours of my youth."
"I wanted to do something different here, something personal, something that’s all about who I really am. Park is my background. It’s my roots. It’s me: Antonio Park."