Lucky Dip – Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

In Toronto:

It’s Pi day and Sadie’s Diner (504 Adelaide Street West) is giving out free slices of pie with every meal.

The line-up has been announced for Luminato, Toronto’s annual culture and arts festival. Watch for the 1000 Tastes of Toronto event to take place on June 9th and 10th at The Distillery District.

April is looking to be all about dining out for charity with Stop For Food running at various restaurants from April 1st – 30th ($5 added to your bill will go to The Stop) and A Taste For Life taking place at restaurants all over town (and the country!) on April 25th (25% of the cost of your meal will be donated to Fife House). Best to start planning now.

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Lucky Dip – Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

In Toronto:

The Group of Seven Chefs have announced that they’ll be doing a James Beard dinner on September 12th. Congratulations to everyone involved, it’s quite a coup.

Banh Mi Boys (392 Queen Street West) expects to re-open on March 26th.

You should go:

Boehmer (93 Ossington Avenue) holds their weekly lobster boil tonight (and every Tuesday). $18 gets you your own tasty crustacean with garlic butter.

Montgomery’s Inn (4709 Dundas Street West) hosts a St. Patrick’s Day tea on Saturday March 17th from 1pm – 4pm. Featuring tea-time specialties from the Emerald Isle including porter cake, shamrock cookies and more. $10.

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Lucky Dip – Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

In Toronto:

Chef Rob Rossi announced yesterday that his new restaurant BestEllen (972 College Street) will open on Friday, March 2nd.

The Federal (1438 Dundas Street West) opens tomorrow is  in the former Zoots Cafe location, with a brunchy-type menu full of eggs, sandwiches, soups, waffles and a Ploughman’s lunch.

Japanese noodle chain Santouka Ramen is reportedly looking for a location in downtown Toronto.

And while it’s out in Brampton, Maroli, everyone’s favourite Keralan restaurant, opens a second location at 31 George Street North tomorrow.

The Granite Brewery (245 Eglinton Avenue East) has announced plans to expand brewing operations into the basement of their existing location. Full details at Canadian Beer News.

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Tastefully Tasty

Greg said it best on Twitter: “sweet merciful crap, there’s more food inside!”

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Second Harvest’s Toronto Taste fund raiser upped its game substantially this year, doubling the number of chefs involved (from 30 to 60) and taking over part of the Royal Ontario Museum and Queen’s Park (the street, not the park itself). With tickets going for $250 (half of which garnered a receipt for tax purposes), it wasn’t an event for everybody – a fact that won Toronto Taste the teeniest bit of flack over on Torontoist, where they pointed out the irony of having a fancy food event in order to help raise funds to feed the hungry. Especially one where some people would take a bite of something and then pitch it. Yikes! (Next year I’m going with a doggy bag to bring people’s half-eaten leftovers home to my dogs! Can I get away with that at the swankest food event of the year?)

But the fact is that every $250 ticket will buy 250 meals, and Second Harvest delivers over 15,000 meals every day (that’s 6 million pounds of food each year!), mostly from donated perishable food that would otherwise go to waste from restaurants and cafeterias.

And while the following photos are most definitely food porn, we’d like to encourage you to consider the bigger picture. Second Harvest will happily accept your donations – in any amount – even though the big event is over. The Toronto Taste online auction, which runs until June 23rd, includes cool items at every price point. As well, please consider supporting the participating restaurants if you possibly can – they all worked incredibly hard and donated their time and food to the cause.

We’d also like to offer hearty congratulations for a job well done to everyone at Second Harvest – and that amazing army of volunteers. You guys rock.

Shown above: Ontario perch with chorizo, pickled heirloom tomatoes and fava bean puree from Chef Andrea Nicholson of Great Cooks on 8.

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Toronto Taste 2009 – Good Eats in Pictures

Fabulous whitefish sandwiches from Epic at the Royal York.

We came, we saw, we ate.

Second Harvest’s Toronto Taste fundraising event was, by our observation, a resounding success. Spread out over Cumberland Street and the Village of Yorkville Park, over 30 of Toronto’s top restaurants, as well as a number of wineries and breweries, offered samples of their finest fare. While tickets were $225 a pop, attendees were offered unlimited food and drink, plus the opportunity to rub shoulders with some celebrity chefs including Michael Smith and Mark McEwan (anyone who lingered too long at the One booth could also have earned themselves a cameo in an upcoming episode of McEwan’s TV show The Heat), not to mention event host and TV personality Carlo Rota. It was wonderful to see attendees dressing up (I was tempted to start snapping photos of cute outfits as well as the luscious food) and even a little bit of rain didn’t put chefs or guests off their game.

Here is a collection of pics taken by Greg and I throughout the evening. There wasn’t a lot of signage or a list of who was serving what, so some of the food porn doesn’t have a chef or restaurant attached to it. Apologies in advance to the chefs who I haven’t been able to match to their food. If you were there and can identify the chef/restaurant of the mystery dishes, please let me know.

Finally, thanks to the organizers for such a fabulous event, to all the chefs and restaurants who made it a true feast for the senses and to the many, many volunteers who went out of their way to ensure that guests had forks and napkins and clean plates. Congratulations to you all – truly a job well done!

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Yes Chef: A Kinder, Gentler, Prettier Chef School

chefschoolThere’s an ongoing joke in the restaurant biz, where executive chefs are regularly asked – who cooks the food when you’re not there? The answer is always given with a smirk – the same people who cook the food when I am there.

Presumably most foodies are wise enough to know that the product emerging from restaurant kitchens is the work of an entire team or brigade of staff, not just one person. Brigades can range in size from two or three people in small, family-run restaurants to hundreds of staff in large hotels. From dishwashers to sous chefs, sauciers to pastry chefs, the average restaurant runs on the concerted effort of many people, and that’s the just the staff at back of house.

Which means now more than ever that a career in just about any aspect of the culinary arts is a hot commodity. Canada’s hospitality sector currently employs over 1.7 million people and will require another 300,000 professionals by 2015 to remain competitive. Sure, some people have a natural talent for cooking, but for most, the key to landing jobs in the top restaurants is more easily attained through proper training.

In Toronto, that means the George Brown Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts.

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