Monday, June 29, 2009

Proud Crowds

Yesterday, Torontoist photographer Andrew Louis and I were so lucky to march in the 29th Annual Pride Parade with Heterosexuals for Same-Sex Equality. To do something a bit different, we took photos of the crowd instead of the floats to shine the spotlight on all the amazing people who came to show their support.

It was my very first time at the parade and I was overwhelmed. Everyone there was smiling, dancing, laughing, and cheering. Makes me tear up to think about it. Happy Pride to everyone!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Toronto a la Cart's First Thirty Days

My post on the hard-working Toronto a la Cart street food vendors is now up on Torontoist. I had originally thought I'd write about the food they were offering, but when interviewing them they told me so many exasperated stories about working with the City that I changed tack to focus on that.

These vendors are working incredibly hard. Young Jin Kim and her son, Simon, are downtown at 9 a.m. every day to pick up the cart. By ten, they're at Yonge and Eglinton and they stay until 9 p.m., after which Kim goes to her restaurant to do the dishes and prepare for the next day. These guys deserve all the help they can get. Please support them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Toronto Taste in USA Today

I'm so excited that USA Today linked to our post on Torontoist about Toronto Taste! And they pulled the closing quote by Mark McEwan out as well for their quotes page. It was a great quote. Mark McEwan is awesome.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Toronto Tastes Great

My post about Toronto Taste, Second Harvest's biggest yearly fundraiser, went up on Torontoist this morning, and happily just got linked in the Globe & Mail.

It was a star-studded event with many celebrity chefs and Food Network personalities, including Mark McEwan (Second Harvest's ambassador), Marc Thuet, Michael Smith, Laura Calder, Bob Blumer, Brad Long, and Donna Dooher. My girl, Olivia Bolano, was also there making her debut at Toronto Taste as Executive Chef of All the Best Fine Foods.

I was so intimidated to talk to Mark McEwan and Marc Thuet, but they were both extremely accomodating. McEwan talked to me at length about how devoted he is to Second Harvest, and how he does everything he can to help them, using his incredible influence in the industry.

We almost didn't talk to Marc Thuet, but as we were leaving we caught him having a cigarette with one of his cooks outside the grounds. In real life, he is as magnificent as a lion, and I think Ayngelina captured that so well in her photograph (see the post).

Debra Hubner from Second Harvest told us that 1200 people were in attendance that night, making over $250,000 for the charity.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Original Fifteen

My post about the Basic Culinary Skills Training program at the YMCA on Charles Street went up today on Torontoist. It's an amazing job skills program that helps people on social assistance learn how to cook professionally and find jobs in the hospitality industry.

To research this piece, I spent several hours at their bustling kitchen in the basement of the YMCA, talking to the director, Kelvin Ramjattan, and instructors. All of them are former restaurant cooks and two of them, Dan Prewer and Adam Lariviere, left restaurants less than two years ago to begin teaching. What blew me away was how much they care about their students and mentor them to not only cook, but also cope with working and life in general. They help them figure out how to deal with conflicts, stress, gossip, language barriers, money, and countless other things.

Seeing these chefs run this kind of program day in and day out for 25 years is one of the most hopeful sights I've ever witnessed.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ontario Ribfests 2009

It's finally here, guys. The first ribfest of the season is this weekend in Pickering. And even if you live in Toronto and don't have a car (like me), it's like a kilometre or so from the Pickering GO station. And here is the GO Train schedule for the train between Toronto and Pickering.

View Larger Map

I haven't decided if I'm actually going to go or not, but I seem to have done a lot of research. Mmmmm. Can't resist.

If you'd like to plan out the rest of your rib summer, Darcy updated the calendar we made last year for 2009.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Small Boxes at Summerhill

On Monday night, my talented photographer friend Ayngelina and I went to the grand opening of the Shops st Summerhill, an amazing cluster of shops close to Summerhill subway station that have excellent quality food and have been around for about 30 years. My friend Olivia Bolano is the executive chef at one of the shops, All the Best Fine Foods, which is probably why I was invited at all. Lots of top tier media were there, including the Star, the Globe, and Toronto Life.

We did a sort of "shop crawl" for about an hour followed by a sit-down dinner at MBCo. Pisces Gourmet had by far the most impressive display. They had an actual shark, a whole monkfish, and a gorgeous parrotfish, among many other things, all arranged beautifully in the cases. The fish were so fresh and bright-eyed that they really did look alive. And even though the shop had tonnes of product, it might as well have been a clothing store because it didn't smell fishy in the least. How fresh is that?

The shops were amazing too. These are all high end shops, so not cheap, but the quality is incredible.

My post about the shops went up this morning on Torontoist and it was picked to be linked on the Globe and Mail's Toronto hub. Eee!