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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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.
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.
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]
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 »
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Tickets for the first-anniversary, double header edition of the Toronto Underground Market on sale now
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 »
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.
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 »
Since these things tend to sell out pretty much instantly (this month’s Street Food Block Party sold out in a few hours), we thought we’d let you know that tickets are now on sale for the June edition of the Toronto Underground Market at the Evergreen Brick Works. Get them while the getting’s good »
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »