It could have been, truly, a clusterfuck, but the weather gods and organizing gods shined down on the One City One Table event today at the Distillery District. Part of the Luminato arts festival, this food fair took over a whole block with one long table down the centre, and local restaurants offering tastings and street food items for $5 a pop along one side.
While it was busy, it wasn’t stupid packed, and there was very little wait time at each booth to get the food. Most chefs had put some thought into their offerings so it was mostly hand-held stuff like sandwiches, tacos or things that didn’t need a fork and knife.
Enamoured of the food as I was, I completely missed getting a shot of the 500-seat table, although it was never all full at once as people kept getting up and moving around as they tried new things. I missed photographing a few things that we tried and really enjoyed like the baked perogies from Chef Nathan Isberg at Coca, and the braised hangar steak sandwich from Chef Ted Corrado at C5.
As is the case in any field where an individual demonstrates an area of expertise or even interest, this area of interest can become what that individual is known for, whether they like it or not. This is especially true of chefs who pioneer certain ingredients or techniques. Martin Picard of Pied de Cochon in Montreal will always be known as “that foie gras guy”, just as Ferran Adria will always be known as the pioneer of molecular gastronomy.
Based on the reviews I had read of Coca (783 Queen Street West), and the general trend of tapas (or small plates, if the restaurant isn’t serving specifically Spanish dishes), I had always assumed that Chef Nathan Isberg was one of those chefs who was all about the meat. I’d actually never eaten at Coca because I assumed the menu was heavily meat-reliant. So I was surprised to run into Isberg at the Green Carpet Series – An Evening of Local Cuisine last month, standing proudly behind a table of vegetarian tapas.
Normally, the north building of St. Lawrence Market is the focus of local food only on Saturday mornings as farmers and food producers fill tables with all things edible and Torontonians descend upon the place in search of tasty treats. This past Tuesday evening, the market building was a bastion of local food again as a number of chefs and wineries offered samples of their wares as part of An Evening of Local Cuisine, one of the many events put on by The Green Carpet Series.