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Toronto Taste 2013: We sample dishes from the chefs of Buca, Splendido, Scaramouche and more

Toronto Taste 2013

Chef Graham Pelley and his team from E11even rocking some sweet yellow shades (Image: Renée Suen)

More than 60 restaurants and other food purveyors took part in the 23rd installment of Toronto Taste at the ROM on Sunday, offering their culinary creations to over 1500 foodies in support of Toronto food-rescue program Second Harvest. Top chefs, including Buca’s Rob Gentile, Splendido’s Victor Barry and Scaramouche’s Carolyn Reid, served up everything from dainty zucchini fritters to pork sandwiches slathered with bacon-fat mayo. Check out our 55-page slideshow to see our favourite dishes.

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The Dish

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We fête the launch of the Toronto Life Cookbook with sample recipes from top Toronto chefs and mixologists

Last night, we celebrated the launch of our newest special interest publication, the first-ever Toronto Life Cookbook—the urban food-lover’s dream book, featuring 100 recipes from the city’s best chefs and bartenders—and the Canadian Film Centre with an intimate gathering at the CFC’s Windfields campus. Our guests were treated to an exclusive first look at the building’s interior design improvements from Glucksteinhome and Miele Kitchen while sampling delicious recipes chosen by Toronto Life’s discerning food and drink critics and prepared by top Toronto chefs and mixologists. Yum. Click here for more and to see our photo gallery »

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Toronto Life and the Canadian Film Centre fête the Toronto Life Cookbook at the CFC Windfields campus

Toronto Life Cookbook Event at CFC

Toronto Life and the Canadian Film Centre fêted the beginning of a new three-year partnership and the launch of Toronto Life’s newest special interest publication, the first-ever Toronto Life Cookbook—the urban food-lover’s dream book, featuring 100 recipes from the city’s best chefs and bartenders—with an intimate gathering at the CFC’s Windfields campus. The event also marked the unveiling of the Glucksteinhome design project and the Miele Kitchen at the north Toronto location, formerly home to celebrated Canadian philanthropist E.P. Taylor. Guests were treated to an exclusive first look at the interior design improvements while sampling delicious recipes chosen by Toronto Life’s discerning food and drink critics and prepared by top Toronto chefs and mixologists. 

The Informer

Features

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How a small group of farmers and wealthy weekenders made the Melancthon mega-quarry protest a cause célèbre

An unexpected casualty of Toronto’s building boom is the sleepy southern Ontario township of Melancthon, where an American hedge fund plans to excavate $6 billion worth of limestone.

How a small group of farmers, and wealthy weekenders, made the Melancthon mega-quarry protest a cause célèbre

Fight Club: The farmer-chef Michael Stadtländer helped organize Foodstock, a quarry protest attended by 28,000 people (Image: Jason Van Bruggen)

How a small group of farmers, and wealthy weekenders, made the Melancthon mega-quarry protest a cause célèbreMelancthon’s windswept highlands spread out like a grand table underneath the sky. At 1,700 feet above sea level, southern Ontario’s highest point, the air is different: cool and often foggy, it’s a world away from smog-suffocated Toronto, which lies 100 kilometres to the southeast. The climate is ideal for raising crops, and tens of millions of kilos of potatoes are grown each year in the township’s rich, silty loam. The karst, or fractured limestone, that lies beneath the soil delivers an almost perfect drainage system—no matter how much it rains, crops never flood.

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The Dish

People

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The Internet wishes Julia Child a happy 100th birthday

Today would have marked the 100th birthday of the doyenne, dowager countess and grande dame of (North) American cookery, Julia Child, and the Internet is celebrating in style. Thanks to Child, Jell-O salads were replaced by aspics, and beef stew by boeuf bourgignon. The Internet abounds with tributes that trace her influence, including remembrances by well-known Toronto chefs who once cooked for her and a dissection, by Anne Kingston of Maclean’s, of Child’s own free-form feminism. Heck, even today’s Google doodle honours her. PBS, the network that brought The French Chef to the world, is responsible for the excellent Auto-Tune treatment above (not that her famously sing-song voice needed much help). It’s a cheeky video that manages to evoke the range of her infectious joie de vivre in less than four minutes, to which we say, with Julia (at the 0:50 mark), “Bring on the roasted potatoes!”

Found other great Julia Child commemorations online? Let us know in the comments

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

Deathwatch

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Captain John’s Restaurant succumbs to the stormy seas of unpaid back taxes

(Image: Paul Dex)

The ongoing debt and legal issues at Captain John’s Harbour Boat Restaurant, the iconic marine eatery docked at the foot of Yonge Street since 1975, have finally shut it down. Owner “Captain” John Letnik owes $568,000 in back taxes, utilities and outstanding lease payments. Normally, the city would just seize the property and sell it after three years of nonpayment, but the fact that Captain John’s is a boat—with no engine, stuck fast in the muck—makes things a little bit tricky. The vessel will stay put for now, but Letnick has to remove the sign, gangplank and everything inside by July 27. And it looks like Chef Grant Soto (also known as Taylor Clarke) is already trolling for a new site for his gluttonous charity pop-up dinner. [Toronto Star]

The Dish

People

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QUOTED: O&B’s Anthony Walsh on his favourite kitchen prank

We tell the cook to go down to Jump (sister restaurant, downstairs) and get the red lobster gun (a thing that doesn’t exist). The cook will go to Jump and the chefs there will say “oh, no the gun is at Biff’s” (another O&B restaurant, very close by). The cook goes to Biff’s and then they come back to Canoe and they look devastated because they couldn’t find the thing we asked him for.

—Anthony Walsh, the corporate executive chef (i.e. culinary overlord) at Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants, telling Swallow Food’s Kristina Groeger about his favourite way of pranking new chefs and stagiaires. The article, by the way, is illustrated with some truly memorable photos of the chef decked out in full hunting gear. [Swallow Food]

The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for March 12 to 18

Martin Picard will be cooking a five-course tasting menu at Canoe on Sunday to promote his new cookbook, Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack (Image: Marie-Claude St-Pierre)

Monday, March 12

  • Society for American Wines: Cabernet blends formal tasting. University of Toronto Faculty Club, 41 Willcocks St., 416-978-6325. Find out more »
  • 86’D: Join Ivy Knight for the premiere of Top Chef Canada 2012. With special guest chef Todd Perrin from season one. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • March Break: Kids Cooking Camp: A week of globally inspired cooking classes for little foodies. St. Lawrence Market, 92 Front St. E., 416-392-7120. Find out more »
  • Sorauren Farmers’ Market: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the field house at Sorauren Park. 50 Wabash Ave. Find out more »

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People

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Check out some chefs behaving badly as they ham it up at a photo shoot for Terroir 2012

Terroir, the hospitality industry symposium, brings chefs, wine and food experts, restaurateurs and members of the food media together for one day each year. This time around the program is centered on the theme of the “New Radicals” (no, not those ones): the new generation of chefs who might be conventionally trained, but are more collaborative than their forebears and more than happy to set up shop in unconventional spaces. Attendees this year will be greeted with a unique Manchu Wok–style lunch buffet catered by a team of mainly Toronto chefs. The cheeky contemporary interpretations of pop culture classics will use local, seasonal and foraged ingredients: think sweet-and-sour confit chicken balls and General Tso sweetbreads. A couple weeks back, we sat in on the “Wok and Roll” photo shoot for the event, which included Jason Bangerter (Luma, O&B Canteen), Matty Matheson (Parts and Labour) and Charlotte Langley (Café Belong) among others, and asked which Canadian-style Chinese food item they’ve planned to rework. Mostly, though, it was just an excuse to watch some of our favourite chefs engaged in a little food fight.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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This is what happens when 12 culinary students get to cook with Paolo Lopriore, the world’s 39th best chef

Chef Paolo Lopriore having a short meeting in the Prune’s kitchen (Image: Renée Suen)

During the second year of their apprenticeship at the Stratford Chefs School—considered one of the most prestigious in the country—students are given the opportunity to learn from seriously talented guest chefs, including many with Michelin stars to their name and not a few regular patrons of the illustrious San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurant list. Past chefs have included Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillere, France), Riccardo Camanini (Villa Fiordaliso, Italy) and, most recently, Paolo Lopriore, head chef of Il Canto in Siena, Italy, the 39th best restaurant according to the 2011 list. We stopped by to see what he had to teach and scope out his creations.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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The musical kitchen chairs continue at Maléna and L’Unità with Matthew Sullivan’s departure

Matthew Sullivan, a man on the move (in this photo, from one side of Queen Street to another) (Image: Natalie Castellino)

Back in October, we reported that Matthew Sullivan, fresh off his abortive pop-up series Boxed, had taken over the reins at Maléna, which lost its executive chef Doug Neigel to Mercatto, which had lost its executive chef when Top Chef Canada finalist Rob Rossi left to open his own place, Bestellen, which should be opening soon (got all that?). Now, after only four months, Sullivan has taken leave of Maléna and its sister restaurant L’Unità to, you guessed it, resume his Boxed pop-ups, according to a story on Post City’s blog. For now, the two Av and Dav restaurants will be led by their current chefs de cuisine, Alex Bruveris and Mike Angeloni, respectively.

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The Goods

Shopping

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Holiday Gift Guide 2011: one of the city’s most offal books

While it might be easier to just wait two hours for a meal at The Black Hoof, we suggest getting a foodie friend something useful for the holidays, like Odd Bits, a cookbook that lays out the intricacies of at-home snout-to-tail cookery. We look forward to tongue sandwiches and pig heart (left atrium only, please) tacos all next year. Click here to see 18 other presents we picked out for the at-home butcher, baker and boozer »

Available at Good Egg (267 Augusta Ave., 416-593-4663).

The Informer

Random Stuff

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Weekend Reading List: top stories from our sister sites, from chimpanzees to zucchinis

Every weekend we round up the highlights from the other websites in the St. Joseph Media family. Check them out, after the jump.

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The Informer

Random Stuff

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Weekend Reading List: top stories from our sister sites, from bookshops to protest flops

Every weekend we round up the highlights from the other websites in the St. Joseph Media family. Check them out, after the jump.

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