Last week I volunteered at Eat to the Beat, a fantastic charity event at Roy Thomson Hall benefiting Willow, a breast cancer support organization. Over 60 female chefs from local restaurants, shops, and catering companies provided amazing food and wine and for the reasonable ticket price of $150 you could eat and drink to your heart's content. The volunteers were being organized by a friend of my manager's, so I jumped at the chance to help out and I'm so glad I did.
Before the event began, I took a spin around the tables and took some pictures. Everyone was so sweet and accomodating and the food looked fantastic. I even sampled a few things, my favourite of which was the Fresh Air iced tea from Tealish. I know this may sound like I'm exaggerating, but I liked it better than any iced tea I've ever had. I'm going there as soon as I can to buy some.
There were many, many famous lady chefs from the city, including Anna Olson and Doona Dooher. I was too shy to introduce myself to Anna, but I did pluck up the courage to meet Donna for the first time. My friends and I love Mildred Pierce restaurant and we attended Mildred's last brunch in July 2007 as well as held our own brunch party where we all made recipes from Donna's cookbook, Out to Brunch, and watched the eponymous 1940's movie. It was such a thrill for me to tell her in person how much I enjoyed her restaurant and cookbook. She told me that they tested the recipes ruthlessly when developing the book and it really shows. Everything we tried was amazing and the Sunday Best Mac and Cheese is a no-fail-best-thing-you've-ever-eaten recipe. I got the word that her new restaurant, Temple Kitchen, is opening in Liberty Village in 2 1/2 weeks (eeeeee!).
I also ran into my girl, Olivia Bolano, formerly of The Kitchen who is now the Executive Chef at the iconic All the Best Fine Foods, a specialty food company that has several retail locations in addition to providing catering and special event planning services. She was attending the event with her new co-workers whom I was so fortunate to meet. Jane Rodmell, All the Best's founder, is an accomplished food writer and recipe developer and has published many cookbooks. Miranda does All the Best's PR and also used to work at The Kitchen with Olivia. Chris Klugman is a famous chef and photographer who among many other things opened Bistro 990. I knew his name sounded familiar when I met him, but I couldn't place him at the time (insert embarassment here)
During the actual event, my job was to restock the Fiji Water display, which agreed very well with my meticulous nature. I was very diligent for the majority of the evening until toward the end when the silent auction results were being read and I abandoned my post to sample food.
I sampled many, many yummy treats. The one that really sticks out in my mind is the tiny lobster and cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches made by the chefs at the Park Hyatt Toronto. I could have eaten the entire tray. By that time of night, none were being held under the warming lamps; they were all fresh from the griddle. The cheddar was oozy and delicious around a generous amount of fresh lobster. Sigh. I also partook in chorizo-stuffed dates wrapped in double smoked bacon from Temple Kitchen, "pork and beans" on tortillo crostini from Black Dog Pub, seared scallops with bean and pea puree on savoury shortbread from Mysteriously Yours Mystery Theatre (who knew they had such great food!), macarons and tiny cupcakes from Bake: Dessert Co., and countless others. My very favourite bread, Fred's Bread, was there, but sadly I didn't realize it until I was helping to dismantle their booth.
This was my first time volunteering at an event like this and I loved it. It's a fabulous gathering with excellent food for a great cause. I'll see you there next year!