Fidel Gastro’s

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Openings

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Introducing: Lisa Marie, a new restaurant on Queen West from Fidel Gastro’s owner Matt Basile

Introducing: Lisa Marie

Name: Lisa Marie
Neigbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Contact Info: 638 Queen St. W., 416-999-6822
Owner: Matt Basile
Chef: Kris Topping (Fabbrica)

The Food: In addition to the rotating selection of smoked barbecue sandwiches from  Matt Basile’s popular Fidel Gastro’s food truck, Lisa Marie serves bar snacks and cichetti, an Italian version of tapas originating in Venice. Marinated meats, burgers, dry aged steaks sourced from The Butcher’s Son, sauces and pickles are also for sale from an in-house mini-market at the back of the restaurant.

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Food TV

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Video: a trailer for the new Fidel Gastro’s TV show, which debuts next week


Rebel Without a Kitchen is a new reality show that follows Toronto food trucker Fidel Gastro (a.k.a. Matt Basile) as he hustles between pop-ups, food markets and catering events—where, of course, he has to deal with the usual food TV kitchen dramas. The show premieres April 9 at 10 p.m. on Travel and Escape, only a week or so before Basile, busy guy that he is, launches his first brick-and-mortar restaurant, Lisa Marie.

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Restaurants

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Fidel Gastro’s Matt Basile takes over Prague European Kitchen’s space on Queen

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Matt Basile, the man behind the popular pop-up and food truck Fidel Gastro’s, has moved into 638 Queen Street West, the space that was home to Prague European Kitchen until January. He’s launching a new restaurant there called Lisa Marie, which will serve Venetian small plates called cicchetti, and is going to use the kitchen to prepare food for his truck (named Priscilla) and his various catering gigs. Basile’s now the third Toronto Underground Market alum to graduate from pop-up to full-on physical restaurant following La Carnita and Rock Lobster. [The Grid]

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Trend Watch

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Trend we Love: Philly cheese steak, spotted in low- and middlebrow incarnations

The traditional cheese steak from I Went to Philly, and OddSeoul’s Koreanized version

Those who’ve grown weary of sanctimonious locavorism will welcome the sudden ubiquity of the Philly cheese steak on Toronto menus. The greasy cafeteria staple, in its traditional incarnation, is an oozing mountain of sliced rib-eye, grilled vegetables, hot peppers and Cheez Whiz piled into a squishy bun. It arrives on red checked paper, sends a rivulet of dribbling cheese down your shirtfront and defiantly flaunts its lowbrow junk factor in the face of fresh-and-local ideals. Here are some of the traditional and revamped versions we’ve spotted on menus around the city of late:

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Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for October 1 to 7

Shuck U: Oyster 101 takes place at Hooked on Wednesday (Image: Gabriel Li)

Monday, October 1

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: This week, a “twisted foodie adventure” with Rodney Dangerfood, plus reinvention of the cosmo by GwaiLo cocktail queen Christina Kuypers. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Monday Night Dinners at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar: Every Monday night, Local Kitchen serves up a $40 prix fixe menu of their Italian fare with half-price wine bottles and no corkage fee. 1710 Queen St. W., 416-534-6700. 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 »
  • Burger Mondays: Enjoy $5 burgers and $5 pints on Mondays, 5 to 8 p.m. at the Gladstone Melody Bar. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635. Find out more »
  • Grocery Innovations Canada 2012: Exhibitors and delegates from all over the country gather to discuss their plans for the coming year and the top trends that will hit aisles in 2013. October 1 and 2. Metro Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W. Find out more »

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for September 17 to 23

Join Ben Heaton at the Canadian Beer News dinner at the Grove on Tuesday (Image: Renée Suen)

Monday, September 17

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Eat, swap and buy preserved goods, and learn about home preserving from Sarah B. Hood, author of Sure We Can, who will be available to answer all your canning questions. 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 »
  • Preserving the Harvest: Chef Paula Bambrick focuses on different preserving methods, using mostly local ingredients to prepare sweet and savoury specialties like wild blueberry jam, cranberry-raspberry chutney, pickled wild mushrooms and rosemary dipping oil. Kingsway LCBO, 2946 Bloor St. W., 416-239-3065. Find out more »
  • Rock the Danforth—Pub Crawl: Part of the third annual Toronto Beer Week, Troy Burtch of Great Lakes Brewing Co., along with Sam Corbeil of Sawdust City Brewing and Cass Enright, founder of The Bar Towel and Brewers Backyard, will lead a pub crawl along the Danforth, stopping at five of the neighbourhood’s favourite spots. Starts at 417 Restaurant and Lounge, 417 Danforth Ave. Find out more »
  • Highland Park Whisky-Tasting Series: Join Highland Park ambassador Marc Laverdiere at The Caledonian for an exclusive whisky tasting. All proceeds go to support the Canadian National Trust for Scotland. The Caledonian, 856 College St., 416-547-9827. Find out more »

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The Dish

Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for September 10 to 16

The chef from Copenhagen’s Kiin Kiin, the only Thai restaurant with a Michelin star, is coming to Yours Truly on Wednesday (Image: cyclonebill)

Monday September 10

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: TIFF Overdrive edition. Join the crew from Fidel Gastro’s as they film an episode of Rebel Without a Kitchen. 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 »
  • Feast in the East: Chef Maggie Grant demystifies Asian home cooking with a variety of simple, healthy recipes in this hands-on workshop. Menu includes miso scallops with cilantro slaw, Malaysian noodle stir-fry, Panang curry with coconut rice and banana fritters with coconut-lime ice cream. Dish Cooking Studio, 390 Dupont St., 416-920-5559. Find out more »

Tuesday September 11

  • Escape the City—Canoe and Beach Dining Adventure: Paddle to the island with the Culinary Adventure Company for a gourmet beach picnic. 416-565-1730. Find out more »
  • Food Fables from the Spice Routes: Join Smita and Sanjeev Chandra to explore how spices transformed the cuisines of the countries through which they were carried. Menu includes chicken satay skewers with peanut sambal dip (Thailand), cucumber salad (Indonesia), Malaysian chicken curry served with nasi goreng (Singapore) and stir-fried cabbage with curry leaves and coconut (India). Kingsway LCBO, 2946 Bloor St. W., 416-239-3065. Find out more »
  • Star-Struck Menu: In celebration of TIFF, chef Domenic Chiaromonte presents dishes honouring the favourite foods of celebrities. Menu includes Meryl Streep eggplant soufflé, Robert De Niro seared black cod with soba noodles, George Clooney chaya steak and Morgan Freeman key lime pie. LCBO Summerhill, 10 Scrivener Sq., 416-922-0403. Find out more »

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Fidel Gastro’s new food truck, the roving home base of the rebel without a kitchen

Introducing: Fidel Gastro’s

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Matt Basile launched his Fidel Gastro’s business last year as a roving pop-up operation. Yesterday, for a crowd of 300 or so, he graduated to a food truck at the RBC Food Truck Plaza on Front Street. Basile first dreamed up Fidel Gastro’s after quitting his copywriting job. Surrounded by food his entire life (he worked in butcher shops as a kid), he knew that he wanted to engage with the food industry, but was reticent to open a restaurant because of the huge potential losses. With a little support from Toronto Underground Market founder Hassel Aviles, Basile decided to spin himself as a “rebel without a kitchen” rather than as a cook in need of one.

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Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for August 6 to 12

This weekend, Taste of the Danforth takes over Greektown (Image: Norris Wong)

Monday, August 6

  • Gladstone Culinary Tour—Koreatown: Join Gladstone executive chef Michael Smith for his monthly celebration of Toronto’s cultural diversity. Four-course menu with wine pairings. The Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635. Find out more »
  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Celebrate wild Quebec blueberries with a Maker’s Mark bourbon cocktail and blueberry hand pies by the Drake’s Stephen Prickett and Marc Mendonca. 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

Food TV

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Fidel Gastro lands new reality TV show, Rebel Without a Kitchen

The rebel himself, in The Butcher’s Son commercial kitchen (Image: Renée Suen)

Matt Basile was working at a Toronto advertising firm before he quit, donned the punny moniker Fidel Gastro and set out to satisfy the city with clever twists on classic Cuban sandwiches (consider his “Sloppy Jose,” a cola-braised brisket with home-style baked beans and a roasted corn aïoli). Wanting to avoid steep overhead costs, Fidel Gastro offers pop-ups and event catering service in lieu of standard restaurant dining—hence the slogan, “rebel without a kitchen.” The new reality show of the same name, produced by General Purpose Pictures, will follow Basile’s experience as he carves his way through the industry. Based on the slew of Twitter congratulations Basile received (he methodically responded to each with a characteristic exuberant “olé!”), the show will have a ready-made audience when it hits the air on the Travel and Escape channel next year. Olé! [The Grid]

The Dish

Food Events

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The Stop’s first Beer Garden of 2012 brought out over 200 for Muskoka beer and Indonesian tacos

Over 200 people gathered for the first Stop Beer Garden of the year (Image: Natalie Swiercz)

Despite threatening clouds, over 200 hundred people gathered at Wychwood Barns No. 4 this past Sunday afternoon for this year’s first Beer Garden event hosted by The Stop, the food bank and community hub. Last year’s series raked in over $30,000 for The Stop’s anti-hunger programs, and this year they’re hoping to raise even more. And they’ll probably meet with some success: after all, how many other opportunities are there to turn beer-drinking into feeling philanthropic?

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The Dish

Food Events

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Street Food Block Party recap: a night of food trucks, lobster rolls and very enthusiastic eaters

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

In a line that snaked around the Evergreen Brick Works, well over 3,000 street food enthusiasts waited patiently for the first ever mash-up of Food Truck Eats and the Toronto Underground Market: the Street Food Block Party. The keeners at the front of the line counted down, and at five on the nose they raced into the venue trying to hit crowd favourites such as La Carnita, which has been known to draw lines with hour-long waits.

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The Dish

Food Events

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Year in Review: 2011 was the year street food finally took off in Toronto


After living through decades of delicious but pretty much uniform street meat, followed by a city-backed pilot program that ended up a complete fiasco, Torontonians finally got a glimpse of the street food promised land in 2011, thanks mostly to a clutch of feisty entrepreneurs. A selective and entirely arbitrary roundup of the highs and lows of Toronto ephemeral eating in 2011, after the jump.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Fidel Gastro’s, the sandwich-toting pop-up revolutionary

The rebel without a kitchen in a kitchen (not his) (Image: Renée Suen)

2011 has been a big year for ephemeral eating in Toronto. There was the (sort of) rise of food trucks, the smash-hit Toronto Underground Market and, of course, pop-up restaurants. The latest of these is Fidel Gastro’s, a one-man sandwich operation that’s the brainchild of Italian-born 27-year old Matthew Basile, the self-appointed leader of Toronto’s “sandwich revolution” and, not surprisingly, an ex-marketer.

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