Aaron Joseph Bear Robe

The Dish

Deathwatch

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Chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe closes Keriwa; announces a posh members-only wine club

Keriwa

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

After two years and a few conceptual hiccups, it was three feet of sewage backup that dealt the fatal blow to Keriwa, one of the city’s few Native Canadian restaurants (and number four on Toronto Life’s Best New Restaurants list in 2012). The Parkdale eatery suffered extensive damage in July’s flood and, despite keeping diners’ hopes buoyed through the summer with the occasional “reopening soon” tweet, opted recently to remain closed for good. Luckily, owner and chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe has another project keeping him occupied. He’s working with a handful of silent partners to launch Wine Academy, a private wine cellar and members-only social club opening at Bay and Richmond next spring. Catering exclusively to Toronto oenophiles, the 7,000-square-foot space will include temperature-controlled wine cellars where members can store their bottles, as well as cushy boardrooms and lounges designed for tastings, seminars and low-key swilling sessions. Robe, of course, is overseeing the food, but fans of Keriwa’s bannock burgers and bison pemmican won’t find them here—the menu will likely stick to cheese and charcuterie.

The Dish

Recipes

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Recipe: bison pemmican from Keriwa chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe

Toronto Life Cookbook Recipe 2012: Bison Pemmican
Toronto Life Recipes | Entrees
BISON PEMMICAN
By Aaron Joseph Bear Robe
Keriwa

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The Dish

Food Events

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Gallery: 30 top Toronto chefs at FoodShare’s annual Recipe for Change fundraiser

Recipe for Change

The north building at St. Lawrence Market was filled to near-bursting on Thursday as food-loving philanthropists gathered to support FoodShare, a non-profit organization that endeavours bring healthy eating to all Torontonians. Recipe for Change, now in its fourth year, has become one of the city’s pre-eminent foodie fundraisers, with 400 patrons paying $125 to nibble on plates that tended to follow FoodShare’s devoutly seasonal philosophy (root vegetables were everywhere). Among the big name chefs supplying those plates were Aaron Joseph Bear Robe of Keriwa Cafe, Brad Long of Café BeLong, Pizzeria Libretto’Rocco Agostino and Momofuku Toronto’s Sam Gelman and Hans Vogels. Between the ticket sales and the silent auction, FoodShare raised $42,000 to support its food literacy initiatives—educating Toronto students about not just nutrition but the entire food system, from seedlings to table to compost and back again.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Keriwa reverts to à-la-carte service

Aaron Joseph Bear Robe at Keriwa (Image: Gizelle Lau)

In October, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe announced that Keriwa Cafe, his critically lauded Parkdale restaurant, would be moving to a tasting menu–only format, in part so that he could spend more time with his growing family. After a few weeks of operating in that mode, however, the restaurant has gone back to à-la-carte service. At Keriwa 3.0, the dishes and the atmosphere are now more casual than they used to be, although the flavours are more or less the same: for example, he’s added a bison burger to the menu (albeit one that’s served on red fife bannock with Saskatoon berry chutney and garlic scape aïoli). Bear Robe says a lot of people expressed interest in the tasting menu, but the interest wasn’t necessarily reflected in the bookings. The change also took place shortly before Keriwa 1.0 was named one of Canada’s best new restaurants by EnRoute magazine, and Bear Robe tells us some diners were flummoxed by the disconnect between what they expected and what was actually offered. As for the promise of spending more time with his children, he admits, “That hasn’t actually happened yet.”

The Dish

Restaurants

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Edulis tops En Route’s Toronto-laden list of Canada’s best new restaurants

In her introduction to En Route’s latest ranking of the country’s 10 best new restaurants, Sarah Musgrave declares 2012 “the year of Toronto”—and given the frenetic pace of openings in this city, we’re inclined to agree. Musgrave backs up her bold claim by naming six Toronto restaurants to the list, up from just two last year, reserving the top spot for Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth’Edulis, which moved into the former Niagara Street Café space this year. Musgrave fell in love with the restaurant’s quaint, comfortable atmosphere and, like our reviewer, felt that Caballo’s rustic yet adventurous cuisine skirted some of the pieties of the farm-to-table trend.

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The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: Soupstock, Cat Power and six other events on our to-do list

The Normal Heart returns to Buddies in Bad Times this week (Image: John Karastamatis)

1. SOUPSTOCK
In the wake of last year’s wildly successful Foodstock, over 200 chefs from across Canada—among them, Susur Lee, Anthony Walsh, J.P. Challet and Jamie Kennedy, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe and just about every other famous Toronto chef you’ve ever heard of—are gathering, spoon held high, at Woodbine Park to protest the Melancthon Mega-Quarry. The event is BYOBAS (bring your own bowl and spoon) and will take place rain or shine, so come prepared—though a poncho might be a good idea anyway if you’re prone to spills. All funds go to the Canadian Chefs’ Congress and the David Suzuki Foundation. October 21. $10 for 3 servings. Woodbine Park, Lake Shore Blvd. E. and Coxwell Ave., soupstock.ca

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Keriwa Cafe moves to an all-tasting-menu concept

Aaron Joseph Bear Robe at Keriwa’s pass (Image: Gizelle Lau)

Last year, we named Keriwa Cafe, the new Parkdale spot from chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robeto our list of the 10 best new restaurants in Toronto. Yesterday, Bear Robe posted a letter on the restaurant’s web site announcing that this Saturday, October 6, will be Keriwa’s final à la carte service. No, it’s not closing down—instead, it’ll be serving tasting menus, which will change monthly, on select evenings only (The Grid is reporting that these will take place every Saturday and cost $300, all in). On other nights, the space will be used as an event venue, in a move that echoes Guy Rawlings’s recent announcement that he’s opening an event space and “food lab.” Those hoping to taste Bear Robe’s celebrated homage to Aboriginal cuisine at a lower price point should hoof it to OpenTable before it’s too late. [Keriwa]

The Dish

Restaurants

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Iron Chefs: how the fine dining institution Splendido creates culinary superstars

Iron Chefs: Splendido

What the dots mean: We’ve colour-coded Splendido’s kitchen hierarchy and charted the chefs’ rise through its ranks

Victor Barry, the owner and executive chef of Splendido, has a reputation for running the toughest and most traditional French kitchen hierarchy in the city. No matter how pedigreed, every new hire—chef, server or sommelier—must work his way up from the bottom. Which may explain why so much of the talent behind Toronto’s best new restaurants did time on Harbord Street. Here, we chart the current crop of stars.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for August 13 to 19

The Stop’s Beer Garden takes place on Sunday (Image: Natalie Swiercz)

Monday August 13

  • Foraging Tour and Dinner: Join Tama Matsuoka Wong and Evergreen on an intimate foraging talk and tour in the ravines surrounding the Evergreen Brick Works, followed by a prix fixe dinner at Café Belong featuring recipes from Wong’s new book, Foraged Flavor. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., 416-901-8234. Find out more »
  • Grillin’ and Chillin’ barbecue cooking class and pig roast: Learn to barbecue like a pro with pitmaster Jason Rees of the renowned Pork Ninjas Barbecue Team and the Culinary Adventure Company. Fuel House, 53 Clinton St., 416-565-1730. Find out more »
  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Watch the salsa fly at the third annual mexi-battle. Taste and vote for your favourite salsa king or queen, and then enjoy some unique snacks from Rodney Dangerfood (three Drake cooks). The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: Piola’s weekly aperitivo italiano, with cocktail and beer specials and complimentary snacks. 1165 Queen St. W., 416-477-4652. Find out more »

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The Dish

Features

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Eastern Promises: hearty, meaty, carb-heavy Eastern European food is Toronto’s next big comfort cuisine

The Way We Eat Now: Eastern Promises

Wvrst Sausage Hall on King West

In the ’60s, Toronto had a bustling Eastern European food scene. Polish, Hungarian and German immigrants opened up humble cafés and grocery stores along Schnitzel Row (the stretch of Bloor between Spadina and Bathurst), in Kensington Market and on Roncesvalles Avenue, servicing mostly the expat community, and a few WASPs who fancied themselves adventurous for ordering fried chicken livers or cabbage rolls. By the ’80s, much of that first wave of Eastern Europeans had retired to the suburbs, taking their goulash and spaetzle with them (RIP Hungarian Goulash Party Tavern). The remaining downtown restaurants, like The Prague on Queen West, have turned into haunts for hungover students scarfing cheap smoked salmon palacinky or doughy pierogies.

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The Dish

People

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Chef Grant Soto to reveal his identity at a charity boat dinner in July

I’m on a boat!

He routinely makes fun of foodies from the safety of an anonymous Twitter account, but on July 25, chef Grant Soto” will be revealing himself at a charity dinner on Captain John’s Harbour Boat Restaurant (we can’t promise he won’t disrobe, but by “revealing” we just mean he’s going to show up with his true identity on display). It’s a fairly courageous move, considering his Internet trolling has made him a well-hated micro-celebrity, but perhaps benefiting the Breakfast Clubs of Canada will win him some goodwill. Tickets for the dinner cost $150, and the food will be prepared by Keriwa’s Aaron Joseph Bear Robe, Parts and Labour’s Matty Matheson, Campagnolo’s Craig Harding and Porchetta and Co.’s Nick Auf Der Mauer (and yes, the $150 buys you an open bar). Oh, and Soto kindly notes that vegetarians and gluten-free types need not worry, because, as he announces on his newly launched website, they will “take care of that shit too.” [Chef Grant Soto]

(Images: Chef Grant Soto, Twitter; Captain John’s, Mathew Ingram)

The Dish

Restaurants

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How Keriwa chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe would spend a perfect Saturday on Roncesvalles

My Perfect Saturday: Aaron Joseph Bear Robe

I work on Saturdays, but my sous chefs hold down brunch so I can spend the day with my family and come in for dinner service. We live in Bloor West Village. My wife, Marta, and I would take our year-and-a-half-old son, Elijah, for a walk down Bloor to the Astra Deli (2238 Bloor St. W.), to pick up deli meats and Polish food. It’s a great family-run place—everything’s made from scratch. I might pick up a schnitzel sandwich for myself and corned beef and pierogies for my son, as well as snacks for my kitchen crew.

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The Dish

Drinks

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Gallery: the fifth annual Brewers Plate brought Ontario craft brewers together with Toronto chefs

(Image: Safa Jinje)

On Wednesday, 450 Torontonians gathered at Roy Thomson Hall for the fifth annual Brewers Plate, a fundraiser that celebrates the marriage of sustainable food and Southern Ontario craft beers. Each year, Brewer’s Plate raises money to benefit a Toronto-area initiative in the food and farming sectors. This year, the beneficiary was Green Thumbs Growing Kids, an innovative program that seeks to reconnect urban youth to their food through a variety of garden-based programs. There were a total of 47 serving stations offering up a springtime feast that featured in-season, locally produced ingredients. Each chef was teamed up with a craft brewery; some made dishes that paired well with their partner brew, while the more intrepid chefs featured beer as a key ingredient in their dishes. In all, a dozen chefs were in attendance (including Lora Kirk of Ruby Watchco, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe of Keriwa Cafe and Brook Kavanagh of La Palette), along with 21 craft breweries (Wellington, Great Lakes, Beau’s) and 11 other food producers (Wanda’s Pie in the Sky, Buddha Dog, Monforte Dairy).

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Best New Restaurants 2012: No. 4 Keriwa

Best New Restaurants 2012: 4 Keriwa

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The Dish

Food Events

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Gallery: This year’s Recipe for Change raised over $50,000 for FoodShare—and served up some impressive plates

Café Belong’s Brad Long, Torito’s Luis Valenzuela and Frank’s Jeff Dueck all came out to support FoodShare (Image: Caroline Aksich)

Last Thursday, 400 Torontonians gathered at St. Lawrence Market for Recipe for Change, the annual FoodShare fundraiser, which raised over $50,000 in support of its Field to Table Schools initiative. The innovative program funds education projects that teach kids there’s more to food than McDonald’s and Loblaws. The event featured 44 food and drink stations representing an impressive array of Toronto chefs, including Mark Cutrara of Cowbell, Michael Smith of the Gladstone Hotel, Aaron Joseph Bear Robe of Keriwa Café and Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto. There was also a healthy showing of the region’s wineries and breweries, including Blackoak, Frogpond, Henry of Pelham and Rosewood Estates.

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