Toronto Underground Market

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Toronto Underground Market calls it quits (for now)

(Image: Renée Suen)

(Image: Renée Suen)

Like the unfortunate female crab spider, the food festival appears to have been snuffed out by its own prodigious offspring. Last Friday, TUM’s organizers announced over social media that the fest’s three-year anniversary party on Saturday, September 27 will be “the last #TUM event as we know it.”
 
When it started back in 2011, the Toronto Underground helped revitalize the city’s culinary-events scene by luring food lovers to the Evergreen Brick Works to sample dishes prepped by aspiring chefs—several of whom went on to make big names for themselves. Naturally, the formula’s success gave rise to copycats, and, three years later, here we are—in a post pop-up city where it’s impossible to walk a block without tripping over an Asian street-food festival, and where TUM’s quarterly pig-outs no longer attract the hungry throngs they used to.
 
TUM’s final event at 99 Sudbury will reunite a bunch of the festival’s power-alumni, including La Carnita, Rock Lobster and Fidel Gastro. It’s not clear what will happen after that, but TUM fans may draw hope from this slightly cryptic note on the festival’s Facebook page: “Don’t worry, TUM is not going away after this celebration, just changing.”

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Food Events

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Foie gras Pop Tarts, and seven other intriguing snacks coming to the Toronto Underground Market

Foie gras pop tarts, and seven other intriguing snacks coming to the Toronto Underground Market’s spring kick-off

The kimchi grilled cheese and lobster corn dog from YOLO T.O., coming to next Saturday’s TUM.

Since its genesis in 2010, the Toronto Underground Market, the granddaddy of Toronto food fests, has catapulted dozens of hopeful entrepreneurs into the culinary big-time. The owners of Rock Lobster and La Carnita both started out as humble TUM boothers, as did dozens of other Toronto pop-up artists, food truckers and restaurateurs. On Saturday, May 17, the Market kicks off its first 2014 event, which is being held for the first time at 99 Sudbury, the multipurpose event space near Queen West and Dufferin. This year, a new crop of cooks will be hoping to woo the city’s food lovers with their weird and wonderful snacks. Here, eight particularly intriguing items coming to this year’s TUM.

May 17. $15 (online); $22 (door). 99 Sudbury, 99 Sudbury St., ticketfly.com

See all 8 snacks »

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Food Events

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Toronto Food Trend Report: six things that caught our attention at the Underground Market

Toronto Underground Market Trends On Saturday, the Toronto Underground Market celebrated two years of connecting street food lovers with budding food entrepreneurs. Since launching its first Toronto market in 2010, the organization has become a platform for enterprising home cooks and small businesses to test-run their wares. The exposure has been the first step toward many brick-and-mortar restaurants—think La Carnita, Rock Lobster, Fidel Gastro, Seven Lives and, most recently, Hot Bunzz—but it’s also a survey of the city’s food obsessions. Here, the six food trends that caught our eye at the second anniversary fest.

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Restaurants

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Toronto Underground Market pop up Hot Bunzz opens a new Midtown shop

(Image: Brilynn Ferguson)

The latest TUM startup to transform from a popular market one-off to a permanent bricks-and-mortar version, joining other underground market alum Rock Lobster Co., La Carnita, Lisa Marie and Seven Lives, is Chinese bao spot Hot Bunzz. The owner Mark Oliver opened a small shop inside the Urban Bistro at the corner of Yonge and St. Clair today, serving his unconventional takes on the traditional Chinese snack, like Thai basil beef, elk braised in red wine and bison short ribs in bulgogi sauce.

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Openings

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Introducing: Seven Lives, the new Kensington Market location of the pop-up taco shop

Introducing: Seven Lives

Name: Seven Lives
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
Contact Info: 69 Kensington Ave., sevenlives.ca, @SevenLivesTO
Owner and chef: Sean Riehl, a former San Diegan who worked in high-end California restaurants before manning a table under the Seven Lives name at the Toronto Underground Market last year.

The food: Tijuana–style tacos, with an emphasis on seafood, like blackened mahi mahi ($5) and octopus with pumpkin seed mole ($5).

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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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Food Events

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The Toronto Underground Market launches Sips and Nibbles, a Valentine’s Day–themed spinoff

The Toronto Underground Market can be a slightly shaggy affair. Participants tend to be outfitted for the weather at the open-to-the-elements Evergreen Brick Works. That will change f0r Sips and Nibbles, a TUM spinoff presented in conjunction with Abbey’s Kitchen that takes place at the Steam Whistle Brewery on February 16. A cocktail dress code is in effect (it’s only two days after Valentine’s Day, after all), and instead of the usual setup, the $85 admission fee buys unlimited food from 10 as-yet-unannounced TUM vendors, as well as a cocktail. Despite the heftier-than-usual price tag, we bet that, like every other TUM event, this will sell out. Buy tickets »

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Openings

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Introducing: Rock Lobster, the new Ossington incarnation of the popular pop-up restaurant

Introducing: Rock Lobster Food Co.

(Image: Renée Suen)

Recently there’s been a slew of Toronto Underground Market vendors graduating to permanent operations. First La Carnita opened on College, then Fidel Gastro’s launched a food truck, and now Rock Lobster Food Co., whose first TUM appearance was only nine months ago, has opened up shop on Ossington. Co-owner and chef Matt Dean Pettit partnered with Darryl Fine (Bovine Sex Club, Shanghai Cowgirl) and Alan Thomson (Sotto Voce) to open the restaurant, which features a lobster-centric menu of comfort seafood sold at pop-up-friendly prices.

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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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Food Events

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Tickets for the first-anniversary, double header edition of the Toronto Underground Market on sale now

The always-packed La Carnita stand at a TUM last year (Image: Michael Ishlove)

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since Hassel Aviles put her money where her mouth was and launched the Toronto Underground Market. To celebrate, the organizers are throwing a big first birthday bash at the Evergreen Brick Works, and this time it’s a double header: the “Day TUM” is an all-ages event running from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring 25 market “all-stars”; the “Night TUM” kicks off at 6 p.m. and is a 19-plus party with 35 vendors, booze and live music. Tickets just went on sale for both; they rarely last long. Buy tickets »

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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 July 2 to July 8

Farmer’s market season has arrived (Image: Kevin Ho)

Monday, July 2

  • 86’D With Ivy Knight: Check out a double bill at the at the Drake Lounge. First, a throw-down for the ultimate hangover cure: the Bloody Mary versus the Caesar. Second, a watermelon-eating contest. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Piola’s Monday Night Mixer: A 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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Food Events

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Psst! Toronto Underground Market tickets are on sale this morning

(Image: Caroline Aksich)

Still haven’t checked out the Toronto Underground Market? The next edition takes place July 7 at the Evergreen Brick Works, and tickets just went on sale minutes ago. In all likelihood, they’ll sell out in the next couple of hours, so don’t say we didn’t warn you. Buy tickets »

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Food Events

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Weekly Eater: Toronto food events for June 4 to 10

Luminato’s 1000 Tastes of Toronto takes place next Saturday and Sunday

Monday, June 4

  • 86’D: Join Ivy Knight and Toronto’s top foodies for the season finale of Top Chef Canada. Rock Lobster Food Co. will be dishing out their east coast lobster rolls. The Drake, 1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042. Find out more »
  • Green Goddess Workshop: Marni Wasserman demonstrates how to incorporate nutrient-rich greens into simple recipes.  Marni’s Kitchen, 26 Lauderdale Dr., 647-477-8131. 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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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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