Monday, May 18, 2015

Food Revolution Day Cooking Demo at Hendrix Toronto


Photos credit: Linda Matarasso & @hypebelly
Food Revolution Day around the world happened on May 15th but on May 16th I hosted my FOOD REVOLUTION DAY Wonky Veg Cooking Demo at Hendrix Restaraurant Supplies & Equipment's brand new Showroom space in North York.

The Hendrix staff were amazing to work with.  I spoke to Alissa who organized things with me at least once a day for a couple of months to get things organized.  On the day before while I was in the store to drop off some things I mentioned to the manager Chip that it would be great to have big signs pointing to the store.  He said "I think we might be able to work that out" and the next morning there was a huge sign in the entrance that they took outside.  I also talked to another staff member Alex about the beverage station and she mentioned that Jennifer from Pluck Teas might be interested in providing teas to the attendees and poof a bag of After Eight teas was promptly sent over that evening.  Another staff member drew a fun chalkboard sandwich board to welcome people into the store.  Everyone really pitched in to make all the little details great.  Hendrix even offered up a $20 coupon for people that spent over $50 during the event.

When people arrived at the event they were greeted by my friends Lisa and Martina who are my volunteer pals from the Toronto Film Festival.  We are experts in greeting people as we have been a team for years so I knew that they would know what to do when people arrived.  When people arrived they collected their Eventbrite registrations for a ballot or were given a ballot to fill out.  If there were kids they were given Sobeys aprons and a cookbook by Sarah Elton called Starting from Scratch and they were also given fun straws, measuring spoons and fun things to use in photos. 
Once in the store they were able to have a tea or some iced flavoured water with fresh mint and lemon and lime and I think the staff were also making coffees on demand.  They then had a bit of time to stroll around the showroom and see all the great things before settling in for my demo.
photo credit: @hypebelly
I took over their shiny new test kitchen to grill up a lot of vegetables and we mixed up batches of fresh pita dough that we grilled on flat grills and Lodge cast iron grills.  Whatever hot surface we could use we had food cooking on it.   I also had a huge stock pot with carrots boiling for a spicy carrot soup with the flavouring from Good Food For Good's Taco sauce.  I hoped to use some crazy looking vegetables but all of the vegetables I got from Fresh City Farms and Sobeys looked perfect so it was more of a demo in options of how you could make the vegetables your own.  

I had assistance in the kitchen from 2 food bloggers.  Susan Ng is a food blogger who's blog is Susanssavourit.  She is also a Food Revolution Super Ambassador for Canada.  Susan whipped up 9 batches of my pita dough recipe on 2 kitchenaid mixers to feed everyone and grilled most of the vegetables.  Susan was my right hand while food blogger Jenny Roger of Ice cream and knishes blog was my left hand prepping all the vegetables for grilling and the citrus for the flavoured water.  She started as a novice on the Mandolin and became an expert at it after loads of slicing.
Photo credit: @toongrrl & hypebelly
Since I was buzzing around trying to organize everything and then doing the actual demo of how to make pickled onions, the carrot soup and the pita dough from scratch I needed lots of extra hands in the kitchen to make enough food so that everyone could taste the food.  I was expecting over 80 people to attend and was planning on cutting things up into small samples but because people these days don't bother showing up to things the people that did attend were able to have a full buffet style sandwich and soup.  We set up all the pitas and the different vegetables along with a tahini sauce, mint yoghurt sauce, parmesan cheese and crumbled feta and the pickled onions and some fresh mint too.  They were able to customize their pita sandwiches according to their own preferences.  That way people who were gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant or just didn't like certain things could still try whatever they liked.  I think it ended up being a good thing because we were able to have people participate in a more interactive way and get to know people better at the same time while saving us a lot of time assembling the sandwiches.  We only had from noon to 3pm to demo the food and have everyone try it.   I also gave everyone a chance to get their hands dirty by setting up the tables to roll out individual pitas which they were then able to bring home to try and cook them up at home on their own.
Photo credit: Susan Ng
After everyone had a chance to sample all of the food then we started the prize draws at 3pm.  I had 2 large prizes that included a Jamie Oliver cookbook, Sobeys gift card, apron, pens and note pads,  Aroma Espresso Gift Card, Uber Card,  and a free bag of food from Fresh City Farms

At the event I explained what Food Revolution Day was all about and encouraged people to go to to sign the petition for food education and also go to website to see how they can get more involved.

Everyone had a great time and a couple of people bought some of the tools I used to make the food so I hope they try my recipes at home a lot.  I tried to choose recipes that were simple but you could customize them to make them really interesting.  Simple ingredients anyone can get anywhere.  The only thing I used that they might have to look for at certain supermarkets was the Good Food For Good sauces but I used those as a time saver for people that don't have time to spend developing flavours when making soups or other things.  Richa does the slow cooking for you so you have more time for other things.  All of the feedback that I got was great, they loved the food, they were surprised at foods they thought they didn't like and loved the Hendrix store space and kitchen and I even got feedback on how informative I was which was really great to hear.

So although I was totally exhausted and had to stop for a few minutes while cleaning up it was a very successful event overall.   Thanks to all of the great sponsors who chipped into make this event a reality and a fun day.

photo credit: Sue Kurtz
There are more photos to come from my awesome photographer friend Alex @hypebelly but for now this is a compilation from photos from what I could take and from my friends that participated.

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