Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pan American Food & Music Festival

Festival:     Pan American Food & Film Festival
Date:          August 11-13, 2017
Location:   Yonge & Dundas Square
Twitter/Instagram @PanamFestTO

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.

Chef Devon

Chef Doris
Chef Nick

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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Food Day Canada- Easy Caesar Dressing Potato salad

Today is FOOD DAY CANADA  #FoodDayCanada - August 5, 2017.

Anita Stewart

It's a day created by ANITA STEWART, C.M., LLD (Hon), M.A (Gastronomy), P.Ag (Hon)
President of Food Day Canada and Member of the Order of Canada among other distinctions.  

Stewart created the term "culinary tourism" and has been a tireless Champion of Canadian Foods, Restaurants and the talent Chefs who showcase our great products.

I was lucky to be able to spend an afternoon with Anita on a Lentil tour of some amazing restaurants in Toronto.  It was one of my favourite experiences.  She really has her hands on the food pulse of Canada.

You can Join the Party by visiting a Canadian Restaurant that showcases Canadian products or you can visit your local Farmer's Market or Cook something yourself to celebrate our own diversity of delicious food. In honour of Food Day Canada I thought I would use some of my Farmer's Market produce to make a great Summer Salad.



1 pt or a small container of Farmer's Market New Potatoes  approx 2-3 pounds depending on size.
1/3 Caesar dressing,  a good ready made one or make your own.
2 Green Onions
1 stalk of celery
1/4 lemon slices
4 hard boiled eggs
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 green pepper chopped
salt, pepper and Paprika to taste and garnish


Rinse the new potatoes and cut in half and boil in salted water for about 15-20 minutes or until a knife cuts through easily.  To cook your eggs place in a small saucepan and cover with cold water.  Place on the stove and cook on high heat until the water boils rapidly and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.  Turn the heat off and let sit for another 5 minutes and then run under cold water and peel.

Chop the green onions into small pieces.  Dice the green pepper and slice the celery into 1/4 inch pieces.  Finely chop the parsley.

Peel and cut the boiled eggs into halves or quarters or slices depending on how you want to place it into your potato salad.  I just sliced mine in half and placed on the sides.

Once the potatoes are cooked drain and place them in a large bowl and add the Caesar dressing and toss while they are still warm so that the dressing can penetrate the potatoes and add more flavour.  Add the celery, green onions and green peppers and toss.  Squeeze a bit of lemon on top and add the parsley and dress your plate with the eggs and lemon slices and add salt, pepper and paprika on top to season and garnish.

*Optional,  Add some crumbled bacon on top.  I didn't have any or I would have.

Serve at room temperature or place it in the fridge to cool.  Do not let it sit out too long because of the mayo based dressing.

This recipe is a bit of a potato salad twist and inspired by the ingredients I had in my fridge from my Farmer's Market purchases this past week.

Show Food Day Canada what has inspired you and don't forget to add the Hashtags #FoodDayCanada and CanadaisFood to your photos so that Anita Stewart can see your Canadian Food Love.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Vaughan Pizza Fest 2017

I received an invite to attend the Vaughan Pizza Fest at the Woodbridge Fair Grounds held from July 14 to 16th.  The festival is in it's 2nd year.  There aren't many big festivals in Vaughan but I think a few people are trying to create some new ones.

It's about a half hour drive from me but without a car it's a bit of a trek.  I thought it might be fun to check it out on a quiet sunday and a friend suggested taking the Vaughan Mills Shuttle to get there.  Good idea maybe.  It's a free shuttle.  But the thing is that it only leaves at 2 times from Front Street.  At 8:30am and 1pm.  There was no way I would go at 8:30 so I opted for 1pm.  Well I wasn't sure how it worked so I left my house at 11:30am and got there early so I had a drink at Starbucks while waiting.  There are 2 buses.  By the time I found out what the procedure was I missed the first bus but I got on the second bus and we left about 1:10pm.  It takes about 45 min to get to Vaughan Mills which is great because there are no stops on the way.  Traffic was good luckily.
It's a free shuttle so that was great.  I wish it left earlier so that I would have had time to wander around Vaughan Mills for a bit.  But I had my friend who lives in Vaughan come and pick me up from there to get to the Woodbridge Fair Grounds.  

We got there about 15 minutes later.  We arrive at the parking lot and the attendant asks us for $10 for the entrance fee.  We tell him that we are supposed to check in for Media but he doesn't know where that's supposed to be so he directs us to park behind the stage area.  We walk in from there and proceed to try and find somewhere to check in.  Nobody seems to know where we are supposed to go. We finally go to one of the ticket stations and one of the organizers happened to be walking by so he gave us some food tickets.   We had 10 each.   Most of the pizzas were from 8 to 10 tickets.   A little while later the organizer got us a slice of the pizza that Philadelphia Pizza King Joe Beddia made from Pizzeria Bedia.  He is a big deal apparently.  He only makes 40 pizzas a day and has lineups around the block for his pizzas.  I don't know why they go crazy for them but the crust was really good.  It had a crunch and didn't flop from the weight of the cheese.  The sauce and cheese were ok.  He sprinkles some herbs on top too.

We only tried one other pizza and that was from Bestia Food Truck.  I heard that they made good pizzas but I hadn't had a chance to check it out before.  I liked the simple sauce and the cheese was good fiore de latte cheese.  The crust good but a bit flimsy in the middle as most Neopolitan crusts are but I really liked the authentic Italian taste of it.


We only tried one other Pizza and that was from Bestia Pizza Truck.  I heard they had good pizzas so I got the Margherita pizza.  It was a good traditional Neopolitan pizza.  Fresh tomato sauce and basil with Fiore de Latte cheese.  Not too much toppings and the crust tasted good but like most it got soggy in the middle after a few minutes but I really liked the taste of it. 


It was great to see Festival regular vendor Holy Cannoli at the festival.  I used my last tickets to get some Cannoli's for the road.  

Besides the food vendors there was a ferris wheel and Carnival games and things for kids and for the Adults there were several high profile acts.  Stevie B packed the festival on the Friday night.  I left a couple of hours before David Usher was supposed to perform on the sunday night to close the festival.  

It was super hot that day so it was probably the slowest day of the festival and the weather reports threatened rain the whole day while black clouds loomed above.   Luckily we missed the rain.
It was great to hang out in Vaughan with my Vaughan resident friend and after the festival we went for some Italian Gelato to top our Italian themed day.

While the journey there took me a while about 2 1/2 from home to the festival.  I probably won't do that again.  My friend gave me a ride back to Wilson Station so that I didn't have to rush to get the shuttle at 6pm and go downtown again.  I think if I go again I would just get a Zipcar to go for a few hours.  I think it would save me a whole lot of time.  But the good thing is that since it's in Vaughan there is Free Parking.  That doesn't happen at Toronto Festivals anymore.

This festival is a bit green to me.  They need a bit of festival experience under their belt and staff that are trained a bit more but I still had a good time hanging out with my friend.

For more information check their website:

Instagram:  @vaughanpizzafestival 

Pan American Food & Music Festival

Festival:     Pan American Food & Film Festival Date:          August 11-13, 2017 Location:   Yonge & Dundas Square Website...