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From ‘street kid’ in India eating out of bins to top Toronto chef, Sash Simpson's work ethic carved

Sash Simpson made his name as a chef for Canada’s rich, preparing them chardonnay-poached lobster and $27 foie gras-smothered burgers.

But four decades ago, he was a street kid in southern India, eating out of garbage bins behind restaurants in Coimbatore, a textile hub in the state of Tamil Nadu.

When he was around 8 years old, staff members of an orphanage noticed him begging at a bus station. He was living in a nearby movie theater, cleaning floors in return for a place to sleep. The orphanage workers persuaded him to come back with them, and that, in his telling, is when his life really began.

“It’s all timing. Either one second earlier, one second later, and they might have missed me,” said Simpson, who recently celebrated his 50th birthday, though he’s not sure of his age. “I’m a believer in miracles. It happened to me.”

One of Canada’s top chefs, Simpson opened his own restaurant last year, with all the luxury touches he could never have imagined 45 years ago: valet car service, four kinds of caviar, and vodka served with gold-encrusted ice.

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