Festival: Pan American Food & Film Festival
Date: August 11-13, 2017
Location: Yonge & Dundas Square
It's Food Festival season in Toronto and there were at least 5 food festivals happening in Toronto on August 12th but I dropped by the Pan American Food & Music Festival. Celebrating it's 4th year and moving to Yonge and Dundas from the former Daniels Spectrum venue.
I went to check out the Chef's Challenge and had a chance to chat with Chef Jagger Gordon. Chef Gordon has an organization called Feed it Forward where he utilizes his skills as a Chef and an activist to feed people in need. He has recently opened a Soup restaurant that feeds people in need using tokens paid for by other customers. He is looking for a space to be able to set up cooking meals for more people and wants to open a grocery store to share donated food. At the Pan American festival he set up a Chef's Challenge using some of the produce from his farm and other donations and had 3 local chef teams competing to create some great dishes using the food provided. In 45 minutes they had to test their creative skills and feed the people in the audience for a $5 ticket. Chef Gordon operates using skilled and non skilled volunteers and is always looking for more help to expand. He would also like to get people to sign a petition to get the government to make it illegal for grocery stores to throw food out but have to donate it to charities and food banks.
You can sign the Petition CLICK here:
The Chefs competing in the Chef's Challenge included local Chefs Devan Rajkumar, Doris Fin and Nick Vorlicek. I don't even know who won because it was chaos afterward with the audience jumping to the front to get their food. They got to try all 3 dishes for $5. Chef Devan was the first to finish using his Ninja knife skills to make his version of a vegetarian Ceviche. Chef Doris also made a salad and Chef Nick made a pasta dish.
Here is my quick interview with Chef Jagger Gordon on Feed it Forward and the Chef Challenge.
After the Chef Challenge there was also a butter tart challenge. For $10 you could try 6 different versions of butter tarts. The 2 people i knew put a creative spin on theirs. Vanessa from Holy Cannoli made butter tart Cannoli's and Olivia Simpson from Hawthorne Food & Drink made Coconut charcoal activated crusted butter tarts. Another competitor added beer and another one added peach bits and there was a pecan one and a gooey traditional one which was the winner the previous year. I really like that one.
There is also a few food trucks and vendors at the festival to sample things from BBQ'd meat to Corn on the Cob and more.
I was there for the food mostly but heard the music in the background and a lot of the chefs were even dancing to the music. I saw a little bit of one of the dance groups but I couldn't stay late to watch more. But everyone had a great time and even when it rained nobody left and it didn't seem to bother anyone.
It was also nice to see my festival friend Pamela volunteering at the program table. She volunteers at a lot of the festivals around town and I run into her at both film and food festivals all the time. I used to volunteer and now I write but it's always fun to be at a good festival.