There’s Nothing to be Nervous About


Trattoria Nervosa
75 Yorkville Avenue

When we last talked to Chef Andrea Nicholson back in late November, she was at the helm of a sinking ship. Despite her best efforts at creating an accessible, locally-sourced menu of classic Canadiana with a fine dining twist, 35 Elm Street, the restaurant where she worked as the executive chef, was failing. In fact, only days after we ran a profile on Nicholson and her work at 35 Elm, the place was abruptly shuttered.

“We were told while we were prepping for dinner service,” the chef remembers. “It was such a slap in the face. It breaks my heart.”

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All Ontario – Il Fornello Celebrated a Year of Eating in Season


The jingle says “good things grow in Ontario!”, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find. Just ask owner Ian Sorbie or Chef Owen Steinberg of Il Fornello who have spent the last year adding Ontario-grown items to the menu for the 8-location chain.

Started last June, with a small separate menu of local, seasonal items that changed regularly, Il Fornello recently celebrated a full year of its All Ontario Menu, and in the past year, has diverted approximately $300,000 away from imported goods and back into the local economy, purchasing some 65 tons of local products ranging from root vegetables to oils, vinegars, meat and even grain from local farmers and suppliers.

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Can Organics Feed the World?

vfvcimageCan organics feed the world?

This question was posed to the closing panel at this year’s Canadian Organic Growers Conference. Organic farmers, food producers, nutritionists and writers convened in Toronto this past Saturday to examine the issues and explore how organics is changing the world.


The day-long event included a keynote speech by Helge Hellberg of Marin Organic from Marin County California, who is hard at work to make Marin the first completely organic county in the United States. Hellberg, a Certified Holistic Nutrition Counselor recounted a visit to Marin County by Prince Charles, who is one of the world’s leading supporters of the organic movement to visit the Marin County farmers market. Hellberg’s inspiring speech set the tone for the day, as participants broke off into different seminars that ranged in topics directed towards farmers, food producers and consumers.

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Tis the Season at Il Fornello

ilfornellofigIl Fornello
491 Church Street (and others)
Complete dinner for two with all taxes, tip and beer: $90

I’ll be honest up front and admit that I haven’t actually been to an Il Fornello restaurant in over ten years. I had a super terrible service issue at the King Street location some years ago that made me never want to go back. But when we heard that Il Fornello’s chef Owen Steinberg had created a changing seasonal menu based on local ingredients in addition to the existing menu, I was happy to set aside my reservations and give the place another go after so long.

We opted for the Church Street location because it’s known to be the most attractive, and that’s definitely the case. The space is long and linear with clean, sleek lines. Tables are still traditionally dressed in white linen, but the room has a modern feel that is not the norm for your typical pizza and pasta place. I especially liked the co-ed style washrooms with individual stalls and a shared trough-style sink – very risqué for stuffy old Toronto.

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