Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution

Suzanne Barr - The Gladstone Hotel

The Heat

A Kitchen (R)evolution

A documentary film by Maya Gallus

It takes a bold personality to ascend the ranks of the male dominated restaurant industry.Meet seven female chefs at the vanguard of change.

The Heat takes viewers behind-the-scenes to meet pioneers who broke through the glass ceiling, including Michelin-starred chefs Anne-Sophie Pic  (a.k.a. the “Queen of French Cuisine”) of Maison Pic in Valence, France; beloved UK star Angela Hartnett (and Gordon Ramsay’s former protégé) of Murano; and award-winning New York chef Anita Lo (who closes her iconic New York restaurant Annisa after 17 years).

We’ll also meet the hungry talents of a new generation, including Amanda Cohen of the trendy vegetarian restaurant, Dirt Candy in New York’s Lower East Side; Victoria Blamey of the famed Greenwich Village Chumley’s in New York; Suzanne Barr of Toronto’s trendy Saturday Dinette, who is diversifying her kitchens one restaurant at a time; and renegade chef Charlotte Langley, who has done away with traditional brick and mortar to host elaborate dinners off the grid.
Ivy Knight- Food Writer (86'd)

I have been lucky to have seen Toronto's Ivy Knight, Charlotte Langley and Susanne Barr in action at various pop ups around town and I can tell you that doing these pop ups are no joke.  It's a lot of work in a short amount of time and the difference is that they have to haul their stuff to events unlike the set kitchen environment.
Charlotte Langley

Ivy Knight who is now a food writer and host of the Drake's 86'd events is a vocal champion for women's rights in the kitchen and I can tell you that the government of Ontario is trying to make harassment in the workplace a priority to change the culture and make it more equitable and respectful.  I have a friend that worked in a few kitchens and she couldn't handle the misogyny and most of the female chefs generally try and deal with it if they want to work in certain kitchens.  I found watching the film similar to the way it is in the Film Industry.  Hot Docs has really stepped up and equalled the playing field with 50 percent of this years films being directed by women filmmakers but it wasn't always that way.  Try and name 10 top female directors in Hollywood today.  From my experience women are not taken as seriously and they are not propped up the same way as their male counterparts.  I have seen some amazing female chefs and I have also worked with female directors who have all given up on the industry because of financial reasons, myself included.

I was familiar with Anita Lo from watching her on one of the Top Chef shows and she is very focused and extremely professional but I bet I wouldn't know who she is if she didn't appear on a Food Network Show.  
Anita Lo

The film shows 3 Michelin Chefs who are trying to change the way things are done in the Professional Kitchens but the male chefs seem to get all the attention from the media.  
We must support them and praise Chefs based on their skills and not their gender or age.
If you are an aspiring female chef I recommend that you see this film to see what the experience has been for these 7 chefs in various types of kitchens.  Male chefs should see this too so they can understand how the boys club affects the whole industry.

The last screening at Hot Docs is Sunday, May 6th at 3:30pm the the Isabel Bader Theatre but the tickets have already gone RUSH so you may have to take your chance to try and get in or wait until it gets distribution into the theatres.


Chef Flynn skips boyhood for Chefhood


The Hot Docs film festival is celebrating it's 25 years as a top documentary film festival.  That's is a lot longer than Flynn McGarry, the subject of the same named documentary has been alive.  Chef Flynn took over his mom's California kitchen after she lost interest in cooking while going through a depression after her divorce.  Her son grew tired of her limited cooking ability and took matters into his own hands by teaching himself how to be a professional cook.  He read cookbooks, watched cooking shows and studied whatever he can on the Internet and with the single focus of food and cooking taking over his life with the help of his extremely supportive mother. 

He started cooking at 10 but don't call him a chef prodigy or culinary Doogie Howser because he has dedicated all of his time to learn his craft and takes it very seriously and before long and with the help of his mother they filled their home with diners and started with friends and it grew to friends of friends and so on until it became a popular pop up destination called EUREKA.  Flynn concentrated on the food while his mother took care of the business side and the front of the house side.  Barely into his teens he was replicating and recreating French Laundry recipes. With his perfectionist mind he took it all very seriously as if it was the only thing that mattered in his life.

Maybe it was how he was able to deal with his parents divorce with the single focus and obsession but with his whole life devoted to only food from the age of 10 he skipped years ahead of what most accomplish in the food world even when they are twice his age.  The New York Times did a profile on him and it was both a blessing, a curse and a big life lesson.  He learned how to shake off people's biased and short sited opinions of his success and just keep focused on his goal of opening a restaurant in New York.  The film is part home movie with his former filmmaker mother filming his progress since he was a kid and then with the addition of a professional film crew documenting his rise in the the restaurant industry through a series of pop up events.  Even if you don't really care about fancy restaurant food you will enjoy the dynamic of the mother and son in this film and which this is what the film is ultimately about, the journey of both of them to achieve Chef Flynn's dream of becoming a New York restaurateur.

The film is funny, beautiful, awkward and very entertaining to watch and you will fall in love with this mother and son duo.

TIP:  eat a fantastic dinner before going to see it or make reservations at a great restaurant afterward because you will be drooling over the beautiful food throughout the movie.

You can follow Chef Flynn's creations on Instagram @diningwithFlynn and follow the film at @chefflynnfilm

for more info on Hot Docs visit their website:


Sun, Apr 29 10:45 AM TBLB* there is a brunch component but it is Sold Out
Sat, May 5 1:15 PM BADER

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day reduce, regrow and rethink

 It's EARTH DAY today and it's a great time to think about how we use our resources every day.   Some environmental experts have said that by 2050 there will be shortages of certain foods in the World.

Lately my focus has been Food Waste because I have noticed I have wasted more food than I could afford to for the cost and what the effects on the environment are.  I struggle with this every time I take a bag full of expired food to the garbage or a bag full of plastic containers to the recycle bin.

Donald Trump likes to say that there isn't any truth to Climate Change and it's not cause by people.  But it's hard to see what's happening in the world and not wonder what's happening.  It's now the 22nd of April and we are finally getting normal spring temperatures after an extremely long winter but we almost had an ice storm as crippling as the one in 2013 in Toronto.  Many people lost power from downed trees but it didn't last as long as the last time but just as crippling for the people affected by it.  Around the world the droughts, floods, hurricanes, tsunami's, earthquakes and more are getting more extreme each year and the polar ice caps, the coral reefs and the shore lines are decreasing.  It's really hard to see the big picture when you are just trying to live your life everyday but what kind of world are we leaving for our children?  A life of GMO food and constant environmental disasters that become normal life?

What can we do?   Try and make decisions that will have lasting effects.  If corporations produced less plastic products that never break down and pollute our landfills and oceans maybe they can think about innovative ways to change their products and productions and people have to choose products that have less of an environmental impact if they can.  I know this is challenging because sometimes we don't have a choice on how the products we use are sold in stores.

We can also teach our children about food.  Yesterday I showed my friend's 3 year old daughter how to regrow vegetable scraps in water by letting her help fill the containers of water.  Hopefully she will watch it sprout over the next few weeks and get excited about it.  Even if we don't grow our own food it's important to be mindful of where it comes from and who is producing it.  If you can go to a great Farmer's Market where the farmers are on hand selling their food then that's a great step in supporting the people that make your food.   If you have a balcony or garden and can grown some food then that's a great thing because you will purchase less packaging and will waste less food.

At the beginning of April I placed a carrot top in a small bowl of water and now 3 weeks later you can see how much it has sprouted.  It can be planted in earth when the weather is a bit warmer.  I tried to see if I could get avocado seeds to sprout but that hasn't been successful.  I am going to try and see what happens to a sprig of cilantro.  The easiest one to regrow is Green Onion.  There isn't much to do except make sure it has clean water at about the height of the white end of the onion and placed in sunlight it will just regrow and sprout up from the centre.

Tomorrow I have organized an Earth Day event to do the same thing and have my coworkers learn how to regrow certain vegetable bits that would normally get discarded  I will turn the wasted bits into the food waste soup I have been making through the past year and we will also attempt to plant some seed packets into one of the small greenhouse boxes that I picked up from Canadian Tire.  This is new to me so I don't know how well it will do but I wanted to try and plant a seed or start something in our current office before all of us move to a new office in May and hope to have a communal little food area that we tend to that can feed the soups and lessen the waste produced by our office.  The building we are going back to is a Leed certified building so we should consider what we contribute to it.

I am constantly trying to improve my bad habits about what I buy, toss and repurpose and hope that more people be mindful of the impact to our future generations from our daily actions.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Great Shellfish Cookbook Launch

Who:        Matt Dean Pettit
What:      The Great Shellfish Cookbook
Where:    Paintbox Catering & Bistro
When:     April 12, 2018
Why:       Cookbook Launch

Matt Dean Pettit is one of the nicest Toronto Food Industry guys I have met over my past few years of blogging and when I got an invite to attend his 2nd cookbook launch of The Great Shellfish Cookbook, of course I was going to be there to support him.  When I first met Matt at an event the first thing he said was "I need a hug, I'm a hugger" and yes he is and he is one of the most friendly and fun loving guys who also happens to have been the former owner of the Rock Lobster restaurants and now has his own Matty's Seafood of various products sold in grocery stores all over.  He is a huge sports fan and traveller and loves to go to exotic locations and get inspired. 

Matt's roots are in the Seafood world so his 2nd cookbook The Great Shellfish cookbook continues in his interest in all things seafood.  The cookbook has beautifully photographed images by Ksenija Hotic a local photographer who has captured the beauty of Matt's seafood dishes.  There are some collaborations from some local food industry people as well.  It is published by Appetite by Random House and they are very experienced in the cookbook genre so this is one beautifully created cookbook.

Now about the Launch Party, as I mentioned Matt is a real fun loving guy so the party had a table set up in the middle of the room ready for a massive crab boil, complete with the classic Old Bay Seasonings.

There were Pimm's cup drinks and local beer and wine to drink and the thing everyone was addicted to was the Hot Matty's Seafood Dips with Fantastic Black Bird Bread.  The Dips come in Crab and kale and Lobster, beer and cheese flavoured.  I don't even drink beer but that Lobster beer and cheese dip was so good I couldn't stop eating it.

There was also Lobster Mac & Cheese and Calamari being passed around.   My favourite thing was the cheese dip because I am a cheese head with a bread addiction.

The Dips and Mac & Cheese are available from the Matty's Seafood in stores and the recipes for the rest are in the cookbook which is now available at bookstores and on Amazon etc.

Twitter @mattysSeafood

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tastemakers New Curated Food Festival Debuts in Toronto


Tastemaker, an immersive food festival debuting in Toronto in May 2018. Building on the foundation of its world-renowned Taste Festivals series, IMG’s new Tastemaker festival is a highly curated experience purpose-built for a North American audience that appreciates unexpected collaborations and new food experiences. Designed by the team behind Taste of Toronto, Tastemaker will see renowned chefs from the city’s favourite culinary hot spots collaborating for the first time to create unique dishes exclusive to the festival itself.
Some of Toronto's Top Chefs will be there going head to head to create some fantastic dishes just for the festival.

The inaugural Tastemaker event will take place in Toronto on May 18 and 19, 2018 at Evergreen Brickworks. 

Toronto offers gastronomic experiences for every palette.
Following its Toronto debut, Tastemaker will take place in Chicago on August 17 and 18 at Revel Fulton Market and is planned to expand across North America.

Tastemaker will feature a delectable selection of food and drink from local and national chefs and unique entertainment to enrich the entire experience. Guests will enjoy a true ‘food hall’ environment in an open concept space, with rows of communal seating and sampling booths.

Chefs at the inaugural Tastemaker Toronto will include:

• Afrim Pristine • Alida Solomon • Brad Smith 
• Elia Herrera • Grant Van Gameren • Ivana Raca 
• Matt Dean Pettit • Michael Hunter • Patrick Kriss 
• Rob Gentile • Victor Barry • Vikram Vij

Tastemaker Toronto will feature three sessions on May 18 and 19 in the newly transformed historic Kiln building at Evergreen Brickworks.

• Friday, May 18, 7:00 - 11:00 PM 
Chef Collaborations: Afrim Pristine (Cheese Boutique) & Alida Solomon (Tutti Matti)
Michael Hunter (Antler Kitchen & Bar) & Vikram Vij (Vij’s)

• Saturday, May 19, 1:00 – 5:00 PM
Chef Collaborations: Rob Gentile (Buca Osteria & Enoteca) & Patrick Kriss (Alo) Grant Van Gameren (Bar Isabel, Bar Raval) & Victor Barry (Piano Piano, Café Cancan)

• Saturday, May 19, 7:00 – 11:00 PM  
Chef Collaborations: Elia Herrera (Los Colibris) & Matt Dean Pettit (Matty's Seafood Co.)
Ivana Raca (Resto Boemo) & Brad Smith (Resto Boemo)

Tastemaker tickets are now on sale from CDN $60 through Eventbrite.
There are 3 different Toronto Sessions:

  • Friday May 18th 7:00-11pm
  • Saturday May 19th 1:00-5:00pm
  • Saturday May 19th 7:00-11:00pm

Each all-inclusive ticket allows guests access to all programming and events on a session-based entry. This event is legal drinking age only (19+/21+).

 For more information, visit: Facebook: @tastemakertour Instagram: @tastemaker Twitter: @tastemaker_tour


Hashtag #TastemakerToronto

Dim Sum traditional Carts

My friend Joanne and I wanted to go for some old school traditional Dim Sum which the carts that roam around the room with various dim sum dishes so we decided to go to Dim Sum King on a Saturday afternoon just around the time of Chinese New Year.

Dim Sum King has a massive room with round tables and it is located on the upper level in the Dundas West area of Chinatown.  You can kind of tell when the Dim Sum is authentic when the clientele is mostly Chinese.  Two white girls kind of stick out in a place like this but we like good food so we joined the packed restaurant for some traditional Dim Sum dishes.  

When we first arrived we were seated at a table by the wall just under a vent so it was really cold so we asked to be moved and they seated us at the back of the room on an elevated area.  I thought it would be great since it was a bit away from the crowd but then we realized because it was elevated the carts couldn't come to out table so they would stop at the edge of the platform and just either show us 1 thing or point.  I am pretty sure we missed some dishes because of this and I am also pretty sure the Asian men that were sitting at the table close to the edge got much better service than we did.

After our meal we waited a long time to get our bill and found out that they lost it so we had to wait and then we finally paid it and left.  Hmmm think they forgot about us...  

I have to say that although service is quick it's not always the best in a lot of these Dim Sum restaurants.  One time I went to a Dim Sum restaurant similar to this one and was with a group of very diverse people but the server would only go to the 1 Asian man in our group.  I have a few Asian friends and I think the next time I go for Dim Sum I will get them to come too and see if the service is better.  So my recommendation is to bring your Asian friends with you to make sure you get served well.   

But anyway most of the food was excellent.

The Har Gow - Shrimp Dumplings were great but you had to ask for hot sauce or mustard sauce to go with it.

These stuffed Jalapenos were really flavourful.

I think it was the first time my friend had this Cheung Fun and it was good but not as good as Susur Lee's.

These fried pork and veg dumpling was great too.

I really like these deep fried pork dumplings because they are sweet and savoury.  I think this was the first time my friend tried these too.

These dumplings were also made with flaky pastry and filled with a sweet meat filling.  I enjoyed these a lot.

This disappointing dishes were the BBQ pork which was tough and not that flavourful but since we only had a couple of pieces I decided to take it to work and use it as a soup stock base and that was a much better use of it as it turned my soup into a great BBQ pork flavoured comforting soup.

I like Turnip cake since it's kind of an unusual thing to find and I never make turnip at home, but this one was not very good at all.  It had a rubbery texture and even though they are generally dense and kind of glutinous they aren't rubbery, so this one didn't hit the mark and was kind of bland too.  Skip this one and get it somewhere else.

Overall the food was good and the value was good too.  All of the dishes came out to roughly $60 and the tea is included.

I would probably recommend going with a group of people to get the best experience so that you can try a lot of different dishes and everyone would have different tastes so you would get great value and probably better service too.

Grab your friends and family and have a weekend Dim Sum outing if you have never done it.  Dim Sum King is good but if you want some Dim Sum that is a bit more elevated I would recommend going to Luckee at the Soho Hotel or Lai Wah Heen inside the Doubletree Hilton Hotel.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Green Living Show Apr 6-8, 2018

The Green Living Show is on this weekend and it's a great show to get away from the cold and dreary weather and bring your friends and family into the bright Metro Convention Centre where the carpets are green and you will find everything from the Best Green Cars to what's new in the Cannabis world.

The Green Car Awards were announced on the Friday morning of the show and the Best Overall car was the Chevy Bolt who were also winners in the previous year.  You can see all the cars that were nominated and even go for a test ride of a couple of cars at the show and there is a simulator too that you can try.

Chevy Bolt

I have been going to the Green Living Show for years and this year it's changed a bit.  There isn't a kids zone this year but there are still products for kids and the whole family and new this year is the addition of an Eco Travel zone and a whole area for Cannabis products from medicinal to Canabis measurement tools and more.

One of the favourite parts of the show for me is of course the food.  The food pavillion is back with the International flavours with local foods and there are local wines, spirits and local coffee roasters Propeller Coffee are also there serving up coffees.

Jose Arato - Pimenton
Nick Lui - Dailo
Some of the foods I sampled were Santo Pecado's  Chicken Tinga Tacos and Pimenton's Pulled pork on a bun and for a sweet snack I had some cinnamon sugar donuts from Wafel HausDailo's Nick Lui has his Sui Mai  dim sum.  The Samosas are back and there are lots of other foods and drink to sample in the pavillion and around the show floor.   Don't miss sampling some of Seedlip's non alcoholic cocktails.  They are serving up 2 flavours and they are both fantastic.

The great thing about this show besides being for the whole family is that you can shop, eat and learn about how to change the world through environmental changes you can make every day.
Tim Gray the Executive Director of Environmental Defence who are leading change in the Eco World was on hand to announce the Green Car Awards and there are many other speakers and experts that you can listen to and ask questions of.  At the show you can also join the Greenpeace movement to be the change you want to see in the world.

Tim Gray - Environmental Defense

There is loads of great shopping at the show.  I had my eyes on these beautiful Succulents and really wish I could have one of the Growing Towers in my Apartment to grow plants year round.

 There are beautiful water bottles and other types of containers and better and pretty candles and salts and more.

There is a wood section and I really loved this huge wooden sculpture I suppose since it wasn't flat enough to be a table but it would make a statement for sure if you had one.

While I was listening to a booth presenter I was standing beside these colorful stone bracelets and couldn't help but pick one up for Balance with a diffuser on it that you can add essential oils onto.  It was $15 and the one I got was a black and marbled grey.  Perfect for everything I wear since I wear so much black all the time anyway.

 There were lots of interactive booths to check out at the show.

Write your Green Wishes on a leaf and place it on a green wall.  Spin the wheel at the Eat Local booth.  Spin the wheel at Foodland Ontario and answer a question and win a prize.


Check out this Green Container House.

 There are a lot of new things like Keto coffee that I tried.  It's a packet that you just mix into hot water and it's like your coffee and milk and the butter to get the Ketogenic effect.  It tasted really good so I could see it being convenient for a lot of busy people.

 There was a no Yolk product I suppose a substitute for eggs and a the beet burger as a hamburger replacement.  Lot's of alternative and food substitutes and even an Organic Pharmacy is at the show to talk about their specific products.

As you can see there are things for everyone's needs or even things you didn't know you needed.

Check out the show at the Metro Convention Centre on until April 8th.
Tickets are
Adult$14.00 (Online) or $18.00 (At the door)
Student/Seniors (65+)$12.00 (Online) or $16.00 (At the door)
Children 12 and underFREE (must be accompanied by an adult)
WWF CN Tower climbersFREE - register here!