Last Wednesday, the Stop decided to throw a summer solstice party in the alley behind Honest Ed’s—the by-day parking lot was transformed into a nighttime carnival with lights, lanterns and balloons spangled overhead. The 27 food vendors were paired with 27 design teams, adding an extra injection of whimsy to the event, as the vendors dished up their wares from custom-built food stalls. While every stall had its own unique details, there were a few standouts, including the Brockton General’s cardboard Pegasus and Cowbell’s ice-block stall (the envy of every sweaty attendee).
The sold-out fundraiser, which raised over $57,000 for The Stop’s anti-hunger programs, was a huge success: 1,000 lucky Torontonians celebrated the summer in true bacchanalian style, indulging in a bounty of treats from some of Toronto’s most celebrated restaurants (including Woodlot, Yours Truly and Ursa) and breweries (including Lake of Bays, Steamwhistle and Muskoka).
6:15 p.m. We peek down the Honest Ed’s alley, and despite the oppressive humidity, we spy Stop volunteers buzzing around, administering the finishing touches.
6:42 p.m. Anxious ticket holders wait in a line that stretches to the end of the alley and down Bloor West. (Note: this is the first of many lines.)
7:03 p.m. Mongrel Media fills up a soon-to-be-very-popular kiddie pool.
7:09 p.m. Chaos at the front as a deluge of hungry, sticky people stream into the night market. Almost instantly, lines stretch and snake around into indecipherable knots.
7:15 p.m. In an attempt to wind up the throngs of eaters, the Stop gang (Ashley Shortall and Scott MacNeil) do a cheer, a dance and a group chug of Blackfly before getting ready to dish up some Korean fried chicken tacos.
7:20 p.m. We cool down at Cowbell’s stall, where Mark Cutrara must be the Night Market’s most comfortable vendor. “If only the design included a cup holder to keep my beer cold,” he laughs. Out of earshot, a fellow vendor looks over to a friend and asks, “How long do you think [the Cowbell ice stall] is going to last?” His friend retorts, “I give it an hour.”
7:25 p.m. David Mirvish arrives to enjoy the fun.
7:35 p.m. Sullivan and Bleeker’s Elyse Wahle tries to shade her cupcakes from the scorching sun, and encourages people to dig in. “Hurry up, they’re melting!” she calls out to prospective cupcake consumers.
7:41 p.m. Given the weather, Woodlot’s David Haman made a daring choice to serve beef crudo, and more than one ticket holder is heard expressing anxiety as they pass by. We also overhear one ticket holder say, “This is the real Hunger Games, and I’m not Katniss, I’m Sweatniss.” Hilarious.
7:55 p.m. Feast T.O.’s Ada Mok dances to some electro tunes while slinging foie gras and cherry jus dumplings; her partner, Cameron Pounder, simultaneously deals with an unassuming pan fire, which he puts out like a pro. The dancing continues.
8:10 p.m. Swathed in a bandana that reads “pig slayer,” Hey Meatball’s Rodney Bowers entices us to try his wild boar meatballs. “Would you like to try my balls?” he laughs. “It never gets old!” (We laugh.)
8:31 p.m. A member of the Yours Truly team, Andrew Lai, spanks his derriere to create a cloud of flour dust. According to chef Jeff Claudio, it’s because Lai just loves summer dresses. (We don’t really understand the connection, but it’s an impressive cloud of flour.)
9:21 p.m. We’re not quite sure why, but someone douses dry ice on a puddle.
9:26 p.m. Most of the food stalls are shuttered as the chefs mingle and enjoy the brews.
9:50 p.m. The Steamwhistle beer van blows its farm-animal horn and makes its exit, and the party begins to taper off.