The Stop's Night Market
June 14 & 15, 2016
158 Sterling Ave (Parking Lot)
This was the 5th year for the Stop's Night Market and it's a great place for over 70 chefs over 2 nights and in over 35 customized food carts to show off their food and raise money for the Stop's Food Programs at the same time. Some of Toronto's best chef's love to do this event because it's very casual, you need to leave those stilettos at home and bring the running shoes because it's held in a gravel parking lot. The chef's also like to hang out with other chefs and see what they are doing and while doing this they help raise some much needed funds for the Stop's Community Programs in sustainability, poverty and kids and seniors programs as well as training and diversity focused.
They also get to meet the eaters face to face and get feedback on their dishes which is something they never get to do in their restaurant kitchens. It's really like cooking for friends because it's a very friendly atmosphere.
It started off in the parking lot at Honest Ed's but it quickly outgrew that space so they searched for another venue and found a parking lot on Sterling Ave. They were at a different lot on Sterling last year. If someone that has a large venue can donate their space for next year I am sure they would be very grateful and so would I. Ideally they need a paved space outside but I would like to see space to sit like benches or even a bit of a green space would be nice. Real washrooms instead of port a potties would attract a lot more people too. Accessible for disabilities and for drivers and people travelling by TTC or bike even. These are my wishes for them and for attendees.
There are over 35 customized food carts that compete for the best cart prize. I don't know what it is but I am sure they do it for bragging rights. These were some of my favourite carts. The trend seemed to be circles, recycled things and wood. These carts really make their booths interesting and makes it stand out from a lot of other generic events.
And the food. Imagine 44 booths each night with at least 35 with food and the rest beverages. You have to have a really big appetite to try all of the different vendors. I think I managed about half each night. I was able to attend both nights this year. The first night as media and the second night as a guest of a friend. I sampled a whole lot of different things over 2 nights.
Some of the dishes that stood out to me where the following.
Rose and Son's - Smoked Chicken Wings with Alabama Sauce - great smokey flavour.
Rasa - Crispy Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower cheese - mind blowing good
Mad Maple Country Inn - Vanilla cream, strawberry rhubarb and maple sugar meringues - so fresh
Art Gallery of Ontario - Sweet and Spicy fried chicken - so unexpectedly delicious
The 47 - Steak with chimichurri sauce - the beef was perfectly cooked.
The Dock Ellis - Fried Mac and Cheese bites
These were my favourites but I only tried half of the vendors each night before I was full. The tickets are $100 and everything is included in that price so you can eat all the food and drink you can fit in your belly in a few hours. Some of the food was really filling.
I am not much of a drinker and can't speak about the wine or beer but I did try this amazing Strawberry Daquiri and I had some grapefruit Dillon's Distills Gin. For dessert my favourite was hands down the Strawberry Rhubarb vanilla cream from Mad Maple but I also tried the Smore's cookies from Sullivan and Bleeker and the smiley face cookes from Lindsay Bakes and the Duck Fat donuts from Sweet Sammies.
As you can see I took a lot of photos over the 2 days, probably about 100 so this isn't even all of them so hopefully you can imagine how much stuff there was. There was even music each night.
I love these types of events because it really brings people together. The photo above is with my foodie pal Mary Tang my food partner in crime at these charity events and my friend Sylvia who volunteered for the event. I got to hang out with my fellow food bloggers and friends over these 2 nights and just stuff my face and take silly photos with them. I hope to be back again next year and I hope that some generous sponsor donates a paved parking lot or grassy field for next year. Remember all this food is helping people that are dealing with hunger so please donate even if you can't attend this event. Check out the Stop's website for more info on how you can get involved.
OH and this event raised $215, 000 so great job and hopefully bigger next year.