Cooking With Love at the Wine Bar


Wine Bar
9 Church Street

It seems clichéd to start a piece about a new restaurant and roll out the “food = love” metaphors. But in the case of the Wine Bar, it seems apt, given that the principals involved are two couples who have saved what has become known as a landmark dining spot from what might have potentially been a corporate overhaul.

When word came out in the summer of ’09 that Jamie Kennedy was selling his Church Street Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar restaurant due to financial troubles, nobody knew for sure what might happen to the place. Kennedy offered the place to staff members first, and Chef Scott Vivian (who had run Kennedy’s Gardiner museum restaurant) along with his wife, pastry chef Rachelle Cadwell (who had been head of pastry for all of Kennedy’s operations) decided to take over the place and make it their own. Along with Vivian and Cadwell, Ted and Mary Koutsogiannopoulos (who had previously run Joy Bistro) came on board to remake the restaurant, now simply called the Wine Bar.

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Can You Keep a Secret?

It was a dark and stormy night. As the rain poured down and the wind battered our umbrellas, we opened the newspaper box and pulled out an envelope bearing our name. After opening the letter and reading the instructions, we placed $220 in the envelope, walked a block or so west and headed down a darkened laneway, then a steep flight of stairs. We knocked and a small window in the door opened. “What’s the password?” a burly face asked. “We’re here to see Charlie,” I replied, a quiver of fear and anticipation in my voice. The door swung open. The man took our envelope of cash and directed us down a hallway where we entered a room revealing a scene like something out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The champagne was flowing, the band was playing, and everywhere we turned, gastronomic delights were spread across tables for the taking.

Okay… not quite. The evening was sunny and mild, the room was a brightly lit west-end gallery space, and (thankfully) no pretentious password was required to get in. Comparisons to a 1920s speakeasy aren’t far off when talking about how to get into an event in Toronto’s underground restaurant scene, but it’s actually much more subdued and cultivated – the emphasis being on great food and drink more than anything else.

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Going Local


One of the biggest complaints about local food is that it’s hard to find. Sure, farmer’s markets are popping up in many neighbourhoods, but the issues involved in getting local food to local tables, particularly restaurant tables, are many and diverse.

As part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, a panel discussion and networking event that connected farmers and chefs took place on Monday, November 5th. Panel members included moderator Lori Stahlbrand from Local Food Plus; Tobey Nemeth, Chef de Cuisine at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar; Elizabeth Harris, organizer of the Brickworks Farmers Market; Mark Trealout of Kawartha Ecological Growers; Dan Taylor, Economic Development Officer of Prince Edward County; Paul Finklestein from the Screaming Avocado and Food Network Canada Show, Fink; Barry Monaghan from Fresh Start; and Sasha Chapman of the Globe and Mail.

Each participant took a few moments to discuss the question, “What is the most important thing farmers can do to address local food opportunities?”

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