Suresh Doss

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Coming up: a Spanish tapas fest from the organizers of Slurp and Yum Cha

(Image: Núria Farregut)

(Image: Núria Farregut)

Impeccable timing is an important skill for a food-festival organizer. Suresh Doss and Frank Kocis have it down pat: they timed their massive soup party, Slurp Noodlefest, for the peak of the ramen trend, and threw a daylong Cantonese-dumpling fest the weekend after Susur Lee opened his upscale dim-sum shop at the Soho Met. Their latest event is no less well-timed. PintxosTO is an upcoming food festival devoted to small Spanish snacks called pintxos (derived from the word pincho, which means “spike”—a reference to toothpicks). The word is on everyone’s lips these days, thanks to Milton Nunes’s tapas bar Portland Variety, which recently opened for lunch on King West. Nunes is one of the vendors participating in the festival, along with chefs from Marben, Cava, Carmen, Pimenton, Patria and Torito—i.e. about 90 per cent of Toronto’s Spanish culinary talent. The festival takes place on July 6, but tickets are selling now.

July 6. $10 ($2–$7 per dish). 395 Wellington Ave. W., uniiverse.com

 

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Food Events

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Love dim sum? There’s a food festival for that

(Image: Hisakazu Watanabe/Flickr)

(Image: Hisakazu Watanabe/Flickr)

Yum Cha! is the latest expression of Toronto’s newest up-and-coming dining trend, made popular by chefs like Susur Lee and Chantecler’s Jonathan Poon: trendy dim sum.

The daylong food fest, which comes to Chinatown on April 13, will bring together 10 Toronto chefs, including local masters of Chinese cuisine Nick Liu, whose Asian brasserie GwaiLo is soon to open on College Street, and Wing Li, who won “Best Dim Sum Pastries” at last year’s International Cantonese cooking championships. They’ll be serving innovative takes on traditional dim-sum snacks, like dumplings and steamed buns, which attendees can wash down with Sam Adams beer and mixed drinks from a dedicated cocktail cart.

For Torontonians feeling wary of food festival crowds, the organizers of Yum Cha! are making a few promises: a strictly capped attendance list, for one, as well as manageable wait times and “an enjoyable ratio of guests to vendors”—all things that were pretty much taken for granted before last month’s grilled-cheese-fest fiasco.

Apr. 13. $10 (not incl. food and drinks). Chinese Freemasons Association, 436 Dundas St. W., uniiverse.com

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Restaurants

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Zagat launches a Toronto-centric online restaurant guide

ZAGAT_Logo-BannerEarlier this year, American mega-blog Eater stretched its cyber-tentacles northward to take on the Toronto dining scene. Now U.S. resto-rating site Zagat, which was acquired by Google in 2011, has followed suit. Zagat Toronto kicked off its inaugural week with a batch of foodie roundups penned by Spotlight Toronto publisher and Toronto food truck champion Suresh Doss, who has signed on as the site’s house food writer and general culinary expert. The content is so far limited to brick-and-mortar restaurants; however, given Doss’s resume, it’s probably safe to assume the city’s roaming restaurants will get their share of attention.

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Food Events

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Slurp Noodlefest moves to 99 Sudbury for its second—and final—edition

(Image: Igor Yu)

After a sold-out run at The Great Hall in March, Slurp Noodlefest is returning for a sequel on April 2o at 99 Sudbury. This time, ramen powerhouses Momofuku and Kinton will be serving their novel noodle dishes alongside the likes of Nota Bene, Yours Truly and, oddly, Pizzeria Libretto. Double Trouble Brewery and Chateau Des Charmes are joining Slurp vets Tromba Tequila and Dillon’s Distillery to provide libations. Once again, dishes will run $5–$10, and there’s a $10 entry fee. Ramen fanatics should move fast—the first Slurp sold out, and organizer Suresh Doss has pledged that after this, he’ll be “putting this ramen thing to rest.” Find out more »

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Food Events

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Gallery: 8 inventive takes on pho, ramen and other noodle dishes at Slurp Noodlefest

Slurp

Dennis Tay and Carl Heinrich from Richmond Station (Image: Igor Yu)

The city’s hard-core ramen fixation has been going strong for about a year now, but it was an earlier Toronto noodle love, Vietnamese pho, which inspired Suresh Doss (Food Truck Eats) to host yesterday’s Slurp Noodlefest. The idea stemmed from a dinner conversation that Doss had with chefs Susur Lee and Carl Heinrich about Toronto’s many excellent pho options. Doss wanted to see what the younger generation of chefs, who’ve had plenty of exposure to pho, could come up with, so he invited them down to The Great Hall to show off their best noodle dishes. The all-star roster included Heinrich, A-OK’s Chris Jang, Nick Liu of the upcoming GwaiLo,  Sabai Sabai’s Nuit Regular, Matthew Sullivan of Skin and Bones and even Splendido’s Victor Barry, who stayed true to his restaurant’s haute-cuisine with a porcini and perigord truffle ramen with a sous-vide egg.

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Restaurants

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Behind the Pass: a daylong stage with El Gastrónomo Vagabundo, the GTA’s food truck pioneer

Behind the Pass: a day in the life of food truck pioneer El Gastronomo Vagabundo,

Earlier this year we sent regular Dish contributor Renée Suen to complete a one-day culinary stage at fine dining institution Splendido under the tutelage of then–chef de cuisine Patrick Kriss (he’s since moved to Acadia), where she witnessed everything from the tedium of picking herbs to unexpected caviar orders. This time around, we sent Renée, an ambitious home cook with no real professional experience, to check out something completely different—a day in the life of El Gastrónomo Vagabundo, the pioneering GTA food truck. Will her day at Splendido translate to a mobile facility? How will the truck’s chef (and Restaurant Takeover star) Adam Hynam-Smith, who has a reputation for having a fiery temper, respond to her? Will she learn how to navigate the tiny space without accidentally knifing anyone—all while impatient downtowners wait for their ceviche? Find out below, and check out our behind-the-scenes gallery.

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Food TV

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VIDEO: watch the crowd go wild at a Top Chef Canada viewing party hosted by the winner

(Video: Suresh Doss)

Last night, we found ourselves at an open viewing party hosted at The Sister with the winner of this year’s Top Chef Canada, along with some of his close friends, industry types and sundry supporters.

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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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Restaurants

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Terroir 2012 recap: what we saw, heard and ate at the big annual food industry meet-up

Kevin Gilmour (sous chef at The Drake Hotel) was assisted by his crew at this pork carving station. Hunks of roasted pork were served over a peanut-ginger slaw (Image: Renée Suen)

Last week, 500 members or so of Canada’s food and hospitality industry gathered for Terroir VI at the newly renovated Arcadian Court. The theme for this year’s symposium was “The New Radicals,” a new generation of chefs that have a collaborative and unconventional approach to cuisine despite their conventional training. Symposium chair Arlene Stein had arranged a line up of the industry’s finest from Canada and abroad, assembled on panels featuring restaurateurs, writers and chefs from the old and new vanguard—most attendees agreed this year’s crop was the best yet (before the event we spoke to Australian chef Ben Shewry, as well as sustainable aquaculture champion Barton Seaver and natural wine advocate Alice Feiring.).

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People

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Five things we learned about Toronto’s street food scene from the Globe’s profile of Suresh Doss

Doss at the inaugural Food Truck Eats (Image: Renée Suen)

On Saturday, the Globe and Mail ran a profile of Suresh Doss, the 34-year-old computer systems engineer and publisher of Spotlight Toronto who’s behind Food Truck Eats. Doss’s tireless energy for the cause has some vendors suggesting he may be some kind of god, or at least, in a memorable phrase, “part elephant.” Below, five things we learned about the front lines of Toronto’s street food scene.

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Food Events

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The Toronto Street Food Project seeks to cut some city hall red tape

The last year or so has seen a relative flourishing in Toronto’s once-moribund street food scene. But the barrier to entry for anyone wanting to set up a street-side or mobile dining operation remains high. To try to change this, a group of street foodies—including Suresh Doss of Food Truck Eats, Hassel Aviles of the Toronto Underground Market and Marianne Moroney of the Street Food Vendors Association—have launched The Toronto Street Food Project, a social media initiative aimed at getting City Hall to relax its regulations. As Mark Macdonald writes on his Toronto Food Trucks site, “Currently our by-laws cannot support a vibrant and diverse street food culture no matter how many entrepreneurs are standing ready.”

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Food Events

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And the survey says… Torontonians want more street food

Vendors get their trucks in a row for Food Truck Eats (Image: Jen Chan from the Torontolife.com Flickr pool)

While it’s always nice to get a little empirical support, the results of a new survey conducted by the Toronto Street Food Vendors Association confirm what anyone who’s ever encountered one of the wildly popular Food Truck Eats or Toronto Underground Markets could already tell you: Torontonians like their street food, and they want much, much more of it. As Suresh Doss notes, the biggest complaint among the 387 people surveyed was the lack of vendors and variety, and only six people brought up cleanliness as a concern (admittedly, it’s a bit of a biased sample: the survey took place at Food Truck Eats and the Tasty Thursdays in front of city hall). Strangely, one respondent hoped the city would “stop messing up great programs like A La Carte” which, given the dismal failure of that particular experiment, is a little strange. Read the entire story [Spotlight Toronto] »

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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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Food Events

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Truck-off: why Calgary’s food truck program works and Toronto’s doesn’t

Toronto’s food trucks are not permitted to operate on public streets in the downtown core

Somehow, inventive, high-quality food served out of a truck has become one of the hottest food trends across North America over the last few years, and Toronto entrepreneurs—like Suresh Doss of Food Truck Eats, or Zane Caplansky—are doing their best to keep up. But such ventures have succeeded despite some strict regulations that keep most trucks off public streets downtown. And although we have no desire to write yet another how-Calgary-is-better-than-Toronto article, that city is halfway through an impressive food truck pilot program that has 10 new trucks roaming the streets. We called around to find out how Calgary got started and see whether the same thing could happen here.

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Food Events

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Dîner en blanc, Toronto’s other white meet

About 400 sartorial albinos descended on the Distillery District yesterday for Toronto’s first Dîner en Blanc (apparently unconcerned that Nuit Blanche usually has dibs on the colour this season). Partly organized by Suresh Doss—the man behind Food Truck Eats—the feast was a pilot of sorts, not formally affiliated with the official events in Paris, Berlin, New York and elsewhere. The concept remained the same: dress in your finest whites, bring your own haute cuisine and show up at a public locale that’s revealed only shortly beforehand. The dinner bills itself as a high-class affair; indeed, its code of conduct warns that “only the most proper decorum will be tolerated,” attested to in the photos up at Torontoist and The Grid. In Montreal, on the other hand, it seems they do things a little differently: this video from 2010 features a very posh Gandalf the White at 3:30, as well as a truly graceful conga line at 5:45. Read the whole story [Torontoist] [The Grid] »

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