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Chef Krystal Cabral welcomes you to the (Woodbine) Club

April 26, 2023

TORONTO, April 26, 2023– It’s by no means a pun to say that Chef Krystal Cabral has a lot on her plate these days.

In the final days leading up to the start of the 2023 Woodbine Thoroughbred meet, the woman who handles chef duties for the prestigious Woodbine Club is putting the finishing touches on a new, upscale menu, a palate-pleasing plethora of offerings that reflect the opulence of the surroundings.

“It’s very exciting,” started Cabral. “We’ve actually changed up the entire menu and revamped it, to be a more elegant and upgraded menu this year. We’ve been listening to the people who come here, and understanding what this place means to them. We are listening to their thoughts on what they would like to see the Club going in. It’s more of an open menu, so that we can reflect what people are looking for, and to make that experience one that will bring them back again.”

Located on the fourth floor at Woodbine Racetrack, the Woodbine Club offers first-class views of all three tracks, including the world-renowned E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

Featuring rich, cherry-wood paneling and eye-catching, horse-themed oil paintings, the Club welcomes back guests starting on April 22, opening day of the 2023 Thoroughbred meet.

While the setting and views will remain unchanged, the food options and how they are presented will mark a new era in dining at the racetrack.

“We have a steak program for 2023, where we will have four different steak offerings, along with what will accompany them. We’ve also brought in some more seafood items this year, in keeping with more of an upscale menu. We have a prime rib sandwich, a 14-ounce bone-in pork chop. We’ve also added brunch items this year, on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s been months of development seeing this all come together.”

Chef Krystal Cabral in the Woodbine Club kitchen
Chef Krystal Cabral in the Woodbine Club kitchen

It’s meant a lot of early mornings and late nights, constant tweaking and refinement of recipes, while ensuring that there is something for everyone who visits the Club. For Cabral, all of it is a labour of love.

“I’ve been working the past few months coming up with the new menu. We’ve done four food shows so far to come up with these recipes. We’ve been researching different areas around here to come up with a new twist on items that people have been asking me for. We have a few signature items that we’ve put together, including a Lobster Cobb Salad, which I think people are really going to enjoy. We’re putting a huge emphasis on our food and our menus at both Woodbine and Woodbine Mohawk Park. We want it to be an experience. We want people to enjoy the horse racing and the food, and to come back for both.”

A graduate of Humber College, the Ontario post-secondary school renowned for its culinary courses, Cabral took over the reins as chef of the Woodbine Club in the latter stages of 2022.

She began working at Woodbine in 2009.

“I came in and started as Head Salad and then did my apprenticeship here. I went on to being a cook, then junior sous, then sous, and then promoted to chef. I have definitely grown and learned a lot from the chefs I’ve worked with. Chef Scott [Woodbine’s Head Chef, Davidson] has put a lot of trust in us.”

Cabral is looking forward to her first full year in the role and to the start of the racing season.

“I’m excited to have racing back. It’s such a unique and memorable way to spend a day. I hope everyone is excited about the new menu and that they enjoy it, and having people see what I can do. We’ve worked really hard to come up with this menu. There is a little bit of me in the menu. I’ve definitely been able to put my touches on it this year. I feel good about it.”

How would Cabral, whose guilty food pleasure is “any sweets,” describe her cooking style?

“Not necessarily elegant, but more upscale and approachable.”

A style that will be on display for those who visit one of Woodbine’s most popular dining destinations.

Not surprisingly, Cabral will continue to have plenty of busy days in the leadup to the start of racing.

And once it does get out of the gates, that is rather unlikely to change, especially with major events on the horizon, including The King’s Plate on August 20.

So, perhaps it’s only fitting that plates will be a focal point for the Woodbine Club this year.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on plating this year. People will see edible flowers, a way of upscaling our plating and presentation as well. There will be a big ‘wow factor’ this year.”

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms

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