Lunch at the Palais

palaispeartartWhen most people think of the Palais Royale Ballroom, they think of, well… dancing. Or the bands that have graced the famous stage. Maybe if they’ve attended a wedding or other event where they were served a meal, they’re aware that the Palais actually turns out some pretty great food.

Executive Chef Steffan Howard has worked at some of the top restaurants in Toronto (Truffles, JOV Bistro, AGO) but he also has a background in agriculture, having spent three years working on an organic farm as a product developer and initiating an organic catering company. He was also the chairman of the 15th annual Feast of Fields event.

So how does a chef with a background in organic farming bring his love of organic and local produce to a venue where most of his work is for weddings or corporate events? By opening the doors for a local food lunch, that’s how.

Each Wednesday until the end of November, Chef Howard will create a casual buffet-style lunch menu from ingredients sourced at the Brickworks Chef’s Market. This Wednesday morning market, open only to local chefs, allows farmers and chefs to connect, strengthen ties and build networks that help promote local economies.

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Building the Green Link

The folks at Slow Food Toronto have issues.

This past Monday, February 26th, they met at Hart House, along with a variety of local farmers, food purveyors, chefs and media to discuss how to best deal with them.

The issues being, of course, how to set up links between small local farms and the restaurants and consumers (aka. co-producers) who want their products.

A panel consisting of farmers, farmer’s market organizers and restaurateurs discussed the hurdles faced by everyone in ensuring local produce made it to local plates. Speakers included Stephen Alexander of Cumbrae’s; Susan Benson of the Culinary Tourism Initiative; Pamela Cuthbert, food writer and Slow Food Toronto founder; Anne Freeman of the Dufferin Grove Market; Jamie Kennedy of Jamie Kennedy Kitchens; and Mark Trealout of Kawartha Ecological Growers, as well as panel moderator Wayne Roberts of the Toronto Food Policy Council.

With a goal of forging partnerships between local growers and both restaurants and farmer’s market customers, the panel took turns speaking on various initiatives to increase awareness and dialogue.

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