Lino Collevecchio

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The Last Post

Father’s Day was busy, moving house. Neither bantling materialized, though both sent a telephone message of encouragement. The loins were weary after striding about the Distillery District from noon to nine the day before, bearing witness to One City, One Table—Luminato’s first venture into the art of gastronomy. It was a bold idea, closing Mill Street and putting up a slender, 650-foot-long dinner table dramatically draped in black, backed by a line of chefs and sous-chefs at prep stations, well over 50 by the time the day was done. The public were invited to purchase $5 tickets, each one of which would buy whatever example of imaginative street food any of the chefs had prepared. But would anyone come? We knew which chefs would be there—some personally invited, others volunteering after heeding the call to arms in this very blog. But what about the punters? I lay awake on Friday night, listening to the thunderstorm and the splashing rain. Saturday morning was pretty grey and the radio promised more downpours. But in the end the sun broke through, the afternoon was properly hot (though not quite sweltering) and the turnout was amazing. Half an hour before the event began there was a lineup for tickets and all afternoon the crowds were clamouring for nourishment. The numbers aren’t quite in, but there must have been thousands and thousands of people strolling by, admiring, buying, sitting and eating.

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Calling all chefs

Last year, the inaugural Luminato festival of “arts and creativity” was a tremendous success. In a few short weeks, the festival will again kindle the beacon of culture in Toronto, but with one major difference. This time, the art of gastronomy will be included. The event will be called One City, One Table. It takes place on Saturday, June 14, from noon to 9 p.m. in the Distillery District.

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Making progress

A tasty young rumour appears to be true—that Gordon Ramsay will be opening a restaurant in Toronto. He is currently in negotiation for space in rather a cool venue: the new condo tower planned for 1 Bloor Street East. Perhaps he’ll also turn the project into a TV show.

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Cause and Effect

Thursday night saw the spectacular start of the 2007 Gold Medal Plates campaign with a sold-out crowd of over 600 guests at Toronto’s most glamorous venue, The Carlu. Gold Medal Plates, if I may I remind you, raises money for Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Our goal this year is a million bucks, and with events scheduled for seven Canadian cities, I believe we can do it. As ever, it’s the goodwill and generosity of the country’s leading chefs that bring in the high-rolling public—plus the chance to hobnob with elite athletes. Never more so than last Thursday. The multitude was in a generous mood during the silent and live auctions, inspired by an extraordinary evening of excellence in Canadian athletics, cuisine, wine and—as a new departure for GMP—music. Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo performed three times during the evening and almost stole the entire show when he sang a duet with Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies.

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New Beginnings

Much rejoicing in the basement rec room of my brain that England has made it (OK, somewhat implausibly) to the final of the Rugby World Cup. But the breathless tears of joy are nothing compared with the jubilation of 16 front-of-house staff at Mark McEwan’s new restaurant, One. They just found out they won the October 10 Lotto 6/49—total jackpot a rollicking $4,600,201. I’m happy for managerial supremo Tim Salmon and manager Eric McEwan (Mark’s son) who were part of the syndicate; even happier for the food runners and bussers who also take their equal cut. It works out at $287,512 each. And 56 cents. Most inspiring.

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The Wine Tasting Challenge

To Via Allegro on Monday for the awards lunch of The Wine Tasting Challenge. It’s an extraordinary competition, created by Via Allegro’s president, Phil Sabatino, in the name of his ever-evolving brainchild, The Renaissance Project (dedicated to “the passionate rebirth of Toronto”), but now administered by the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University. The lunch was a splendidly dramatic occasion, complete with monsoon, thunder and powercut, though the storm held off until all present had enjoyed chef Lino Collevecchio’s gorgeous lunch.

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Tubers in the Moonlight

A peculiar week has yielded three very different but memorable meals. First, a dinner at Truffles, enjoyed on October 2. My wife and I had gone there intending to review the restaurant and review it I did, completing my analysis last week and awarding no less than four stars. I share this double-secret information because I have since heard that Executive Chef Lynn Crawford is leaving Toronto at the end of the month to become Executive Chef at the Four Seasons hotel in New York and so my stellar review is wasted. Whoever replaces Lynn Crawford will have to be allowed to settle in, oversee her or his own menu for Truffles and then we’ll have another look.

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