Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pan American Food Festival

Event:             Pan American Food Festival
What:              Food, dance and vendors
Location:        Daniels Spectrum - 585 Dundas St. E.
Date:               Aug 1-3, 2015 

It's a long weekend in Toronto and as usual there are a whole bunch of things going on in the city.  The Caribbean Carnival, The Food Truck Festival, and all kinds of other things going on.
It was such a beautiful sunny day on the saturday so I decided to check out the Pan American Food Festival at Daniel's Spectrum in Regent Park.

This festival is curated by local writer and self proclaimed "Food Geek" Mary Luz Mejia.  It was great to see her and also fellow Food Revolution Day Ambassador and local chef Mary Catherine Anderson who was helping out with the demos.

This is their 3rd Annual Festival.  I attended it for the first time last year.  It seems like they changed the focus and the set up quite a bit since last year.  Last year most of the food demos were inside the building and there was a stage for music that was the food demo stage this year.  They built a bigger stage at the end of the laneway with room in front for dancers and spectators.  It made a lot more sense this way I think.  There focus this year shifted to a lot more musical acts and dancers and 25 visiting Pan American Chefs doing demos and competitions.  But the only thing that didn't seem expanded was the number of booth vendors.  There seemed to be a lot more food vendors last year but the few food vendors were pretty regular contributors to local food events.

On the saturday I checked out 2 of the chef demos.  The first one was by Ryan Wilson-Lall from FRANK restaurant at the AGO in Toronto.  He made my most favourite dish that I tried at the Festival and tried for the first time.  It was his version of Chili en Nogado.  I have seen it made on television but never had a chance to try it before.  It's a pretty labour intensive dish with many different ingredients and layers of techniques and flavours.  Chef Ryan's version was a Poblano chili stuffed with a great balance of seasonings on pulled chicken and then topped with a white cheese sauce and then garnished with pepitas, cilantro and pomegranate seeds.   I don't know if I would ever spend that kind of time making it but I wish I had picked up the recipe because there were so many layers of flavours that you can't figure it out from just tasting it.  It was fantastic.

The next demo was from Master-Chef Columbia Chef Federico Martinez who is a young up and coming and very popular chef.  He made Posta Negra.  I am not sure why it's named that but possibly because the meat is turned almost black from the Coca-Cola, molasses, red wine and ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce marinade and cooked in a pressure cooker or slow braised.
It is cooked until tender and shredded like pulled pork.  It is served on corn tortillas and topped with a pico de gallo that had coconut milk in it and also topped with an avocado mousse and some grated Mexican cheese.  I could smell this dish before I even tried it and it tasted just as good.  As you can tell from the picture above it was a bit on the runny side so the tortilla didn't hold up that well.  I would say to make sure you use a slotted spoon when you serve it or use a double tortilla shell.

There was also a few various vendors like jewellery, and clothing and musical instruments.

There is a lot of musical acts that unfortunately I am not familiar with so I don't know if anyone of them are well known but there was a Latin Grammy Nominee Caloncho who I hears is very good but I didn't hear him so I don't know much about him.  There are all kinds of dancing from Mexican folk dancers to salsa dancers and all kind of different costumed dancers to entertain the crowd.

It's a great festival to bring the family.  It's not too crowded and it's a great cultural experience and there are photo opps galore.  The selfie takers were kept busy.

If you read this in time I hope you can go and check it out and try some great food and dance up a storm with the beautiful dancers and musical artists.

For more info:
Twitter @PanamFoodFest
Facebook  PanAmerican Food Festival
Instagram @panamfoodfest

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