Remember the sad, tired cafeteria on the 8th floor of the Bay Queen Street? Now it looks like this. The Arcadian Loft is a new event space run by Oliver & Bonacini set to open soon.
Annona in the Park Hyatt Toronto (4 Avenue Road) has introduced a spring sharing menu, featuring dishes suitable for 3-4 people and including lobster grilled cheese, seafood risotto, rack of lamb, and filet mignon.
Tomorrow is FoodShare‘s Great Big Crunch. Register with them and then eat an apple. Yeah, it’s mostly for schoolkids, but apples are tasty and it sets a good example for the kids in your life.
Welcome to the revamped Lucky Dip column in which I will be bringing you a daily selection (Monday to Friday) of local food news, upcoming events and links to local and international food news stories. Quantity of content will vary by day (thus the “Lucky Dip” name – you get what I scoop up), but I’ll try to ensure a little bit of everything.
If you enjoy the Lucky Dip posts, please help spread the word by sharing the link via Facebook, Twitter, etc. And if you have info on local restaurant news or events, I’d be very appreciative if you’d send it my way by visiting my Contact Page. Cheers!
The Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen Street West) has hired Chef Michael Smith (no, not that Michael Smith) as their new Executive Chef. Smith has previously worked at C5, and is in the process of revamping the various menus at the hotel.
Coming soon – This End Up, a new restaurant at 1454 Dundas Street West that will be serving sandwiches and cocktails. What? You need more than that?? Watch for their opening in March.
Both chef Carl Heinrich and butcher Ryan Donovan have announced they’ll be leaving Marben (488 Wellington Street West) (wait, who’s left to run the place?) to open their own restaurant somewhere in the west end. Heinrich is set to take part in the upcoming season of Top Chef Canada.
The Construction Site has opened a second location in Sherway Gardens where they’re spreading the grilled cheese love.
Foodshare‘s fabulous Recipe For Change event migrated to the North St. Lawrence Market this year, allowing for more space, which in turn allowed for more chefs and more guests. I love that organizers make a point of not overselling the event, so it’s never packed; line-ups at food stations are short or non-existent and there is no sense of frenzy involved.
Recipe For Change is FoodShare’s annual fundraiser in which they raise monies directed toward their Field to Table Schools program which teaches school children about where their food comes from. Everyone I talked to on Thursday night considered the event a great success; hats off to Adrienne De Francesco and everyone at FoodShare for a fantastic time.
Below, check out some of the offerings from participating chefs. We didn’t try everything (and I somehow missed most of the desserts, which has got to be a first), but everything we did have was wonderful.
Above: Chickpea polenta topped with ratatouille and fresh mozzarella from Chef Marc Breton of the Gladstone Hotel.
There’s always something bittersweet about a food charity celebrating a big anniversary. Sure there’s all of the progress and hard work that deserves to be honoured, an account of all the people who have been helped. But on the other hand, there’s the fact that said charity still needs to exist at all. That issues such as hunger and food security in our city have not been sufficiently addressed and that individuals and families still need these organizations to help them make ends meet.
FoodShare is one of those organizations that will likely always be with us, because they’re dealing with more than just getting food to people in need. FoodShare is all about education and skills, in teaching people to cook and grow their own food, and in knowing where their food comes from.
This past Thursday night, 250 lucky people trekked through the snow to attend Foodshare’s Recipe For Change fundraising event. I say lucky because the event sold out and many people found themselves on a waiting list, but also because some of Toronto’s top chefs were on hand with delicious treats for guests to enjoy.
The event raised funds for the Field to Table Schools program which brings food literacy back to students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.
Held in Foodshare’s warehouse at their Croatia Street offices (the same space where the weekly Good Food Boxes get packed), the room was simply but elegantly decorated, with plenty of seats (no, really, there’s usually never enough seats or tables at these things – I always threaten to come wearing a toolbelt to hold my camera, notebook, wineglass and cutlery) and plenty of good stuff to eat. Our only minor complaint was the lighting, which, while it made the room look fantastic, was not so photo-friendly. As such, I don’t have photos of everything that was offered (the full menu is available on the Foodshare website), but hopefully these will inspire readers to support both Foodshare and the great work they do as well as the many chefs and restaurants who donated their time and product to this event.
Over the past few years, Slow Food activists have taken part in a bi-annual event in Torino, Italy called Terra Madre. First held in 2004, the event brings together food activists from around the world in a giant conference and marketplace where people can exchange ideas and information. There are conferences, symposiums, dinners and markets, all with a focus on sharing ideas about how to promote sustainable food. Terra Madre takes place during the even-numbered years (2006, 2008… another coming up in 2010), and this year, Slow Food decided that it would be a good idea for individual convivia to hold local events – both as a great way to support local food producers, and because, well, not everyone can afford to get on a plane to Italy.
Organized and paid for by Slow Food Toronto (monies raised at the Picnic at the Brickworks allowed them to pay participating farmers and producers to take part, a rarity in the world of markets and trade shows where the producers usually have to pay to participate), this year’s Terra Madre Day took place at the FoodShare warehouse.
It has spawned countless copycats, and has earned Chef Marc Breton a local food hero award from the Toronto Food Policy Council. It brings together farmers and local food producers with the people who eat their food. It has created friendships and communities, and has taught urbanites how easy (and delicious) it is to eat with the seasons.
Harvest Wednesdays is back for its fourth year, offering up dishes made from locally grown produce, as well as locally-produced meats, cheeses, wines, beer and more.
For some, it’s a dream come true, for others, it’s something they fall into and love, but lots of people end up running food-prep businesses that they start from home. Some of these are catering businesses, many more are baking businesses where folks use their love of pastry and mad skills to bake, decorate and sell cakes and pastries, doing what they love and making a little cash on the side.
I have family members, friends and know of a number of online (blogger) acquaintances who are all either running or starting a home-based food business.
Unfortunately, they’re all really, really illegal.
Home Business Advocate Beverly Williams explains about food-prep businesses on her site:
Although asparagus season is actually still at least a few weeks (okay, months) off, I keep trying to convince myself that any day now, I’ll run up to that display in my local supermarket’s produce section and the tag will say “Product of Ontario” instead of “Product of Peru”. Of course, when local asparagus becomes available, we’ll all know it – so many local organizations have popped up over the past few years to advocate for local food that they’ll be fighting to tell us all who has the first, best and cheapest asparagus around.
Despite working with and writing about many of the various regional food advocacy groups over the past couple of years, I still have a hard time remembering who does what. Which means that the average consumer in the Toronto area is probably even more bewildered than I am. Here then, is a brief primer, separated by category, of the various organizations, what they do, and where you can find them.