The Day of the Dead is not a day of mourning in Latin America, but a day of celebration. Families gather at the graves of loved ones who have passed and have a party. They bring the deceased’s favourite foods, music and things in a celebration honouring their life. This annual event, which takes place on November 1st and 2nd (coinciding with All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day), is a day of feasting and joy.
To coincide with this year’s Day of the Dead, 7 local Latin American chefs have joined forces for a one-night extravaganza that is sure to have diners jumping and the dead wishing they were here to take part.
OLA – Of Latin America (“7 chefs, 1 kitchen, 1 hot night”) will take place on October 26th at Caju Restaurant with proceeds from the event directed toward the charity Youth Link which allows street kids to make a new start. Tickets are $100 or $140 with wine pairings.
The evening is also a celebration of local Latin American cookery, with the participating chefs hailing from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela. Each chef has taken on a course in this 7-course meal but everyone is pitching in to help each other in the spirit of co-operation. During the media preview, at one point we all stopped mid-bite as the chefs started singing together in Caju’s kitchen. And if that’s what happens at the preview luncheon, just imagine how much fun the dinner itself is sure to be!
Each dish will be accompanied by Latin American wine pairings selected by sommelier Drew Innis.
The OLA – Of Latin America event is sold out as of publication of this article, but don’t let that stop you from checking out the work of the participating chefs at their own establishments.
922 Queen Street West
The word authentic gets bandied about a lot these days – to the point where I wonder if some writers know what it actually means, especially when it comes to food. In our cultural mosaic of a city, where so many cultures have their traditional foods on offer, it’s easy to confuse authentic with watered down versions made to appeal to Caucasians.
Ironically, at Cajú, where they’re upfront about the fact that their dishes have been modified to make a “Canadian” dish, Chef Mario Cassini is more respectful of the foodways of his native Brazil than most places claiming to serve only authentic cuisine.