Saturday, September 23, 2017

Culinary Showdown Montreal


The Jewish General Hospital and Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation Host Celebrity
Chefs Tyler Florence, Kimberly Lallouz, Mark McEwan; Danny Smiles, Michael Smith and Top 50 Fundraisers in Quebec’s First Annual Culinary Showdown

Culinary Showdown is a peer to peer fundraising event and gala dinner for home cooks,
amateur chefs and foodies, who all have one thing in common – a strong passion for food and the
cause! This extraordinary challenge gives culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to fundraise for a chance to cook alongside celebrity chefs in the type of team cooking challenge normally reserved for TV.
Chef Mark McEwen

It will be held on Sunday October 29, 2017 at Arsenal Contemporary Art, 2020 William St, Montreal, Quebec and will include a Celebrity Chef School from 10:30am-3:00pm before the showdown begins at 6:00pm-11:00pm.

This extraordinary challenge gives culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to fundraise for a chance to cook alongside celebrity chefs Tyler Florence, Kimberly Lallouz, Mark McEwan; Danny Smiles, and
Michael Smith, Hosted by Brad Smith - Chopped Canada, in support of two incredible organizations. 

The Jewish General Hospital provides general and specialized care of the highest quality in a safe, humane and caring manner. The Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation is the only non-profit organization in Québec devoted entirely to the fight against breast cancer through research and innovation, raising awareness and providing education and support to those affected by this disease and their loved ones.

The Culinary Showdown is an exclusive experience that sets the tone for true culinary education.
Celebrity chefs will coach participants on epicurean techniques while the teams compete to be the
next Culinary team.

Enjoy a gourmet meal as the celebrity chefs and their teams of top fundraisers take the stage, but
keep your keen culinary skills handy throughout the dinner, as members of the audience may be
called upon to participate. The 50 highest fundraisers earn the right to test their culinary talents live
on stage alongside their team and celebrity chef. Five teams will compete under the spotlight to
create three unique dishes, applying the skills mastered during Celebrity Chefs School. Each food
course is time-sensitive and will be judged by a discerning panel for taste and presentation.

Fuel your food passion at the Celebrity Chef’s School, as the Celebrity chefs will coach you on how to become a culinary master. They will cover everything from picking the perfect ingredients to plating. You’ll learn trade secrets on food prep, knife skills, cooking methods and more. You’ll learn what it takes to keep your cool when things heat up in the kitchen.

Food lovers, cooking connoisseurs and novices alike are invited to this one-of- a-kind opportunity to
learn from the best chefs in the country and support JGHF and QBCF, register for the Culinary
Showdown at

I attended the launch recently at Mark McEwen's restaurant ONE in Yorkville where we sampled on some amazing appetizers while we learned about the Montreal version of the Culinary Showdown.

I have participated in raising funds for the Culinary Showdown in the past but unfortunately not enough to be able to participate in the live Culinary event.  I would love to participate in the MONTREAL version and if YOU would like to sponsor me I would be happy to represent Toronto in the city foodie rivalry that is Montreal and Toronto.

Please drop me a line if you would like to support me in fundraising.

About The Jewish General Hospital
Since 1934, the JGH has been providing cutting edge treatment and compassionate care to patients
from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds in Montreal, throughout Quebec and beyond, we are
one of the province's largest and busiest acute-care hospitals

About Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation
For more than 20 years, the Foundation has focused its mission on promoting the well-being of affected people and their loved ones through research and innovation, support and raising awareness. Find out why our foundation is now the reference and your best ally for a life without breast cancer.

Dine Out for Restaurants for Change - Oct 18

Top Canadian chefs cook up a storm for Restaurants for Change Oct. 2017

National fundraising event supports community food programs in low-income neighbourhoods across Canada

On October 18, 2017, 92 restaurants in 19 Canadian cities will join together to donate proceeds from dinner service to Community Food Centres Canada, supporting community food programs that build health, hope, and belonging in low-income communities across the country. Funds raised will directly support local Community Food Centres that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food for all.   

Participating in the event is easy: Diners visit to find a participating restaurant near them and make a dinner reservation for October 18.

More than a dozen chefs from participating restaurants across Canada flew to Toronto on September 17 and 18 to learn more about the issues of food insecurity, poor health and social isolation that affect low-income Canadians, and how Community Food Centres Canada is using food as a tool to build healthier and more inclusive communities. They then launched the Restaurants for Change campaign with a packed event at Baro restaurant, where they cooked their favourite dishes from their menus—dishes that Canadians can order when they go out for dinner on October 18.

Pictured above from left to right: Ben Kramer (Ben Kramer Pop-up at Kitchen Sync, Winnipeg), Glen Manzer (Creative Restaurant Group, Calgary), Lora Kirk (Ruby Watchco, Toronto), Erin Vrba (Creative Restaurant Group, Calgary), Duncan Ly (Foreign Concept, Calgary), Nick Saul (President and CEO, Community Food Centres Canada), Kevin Gilmour (Fat Pasha, Toronto), Tyler Shedden (Planta, Toronto), Bettina Schormann (Earth to Table Bread Bar, Hamilton and Guelph), John Vettraino (Backhouse, Niagara-on-the-Lake), Blair Lebsack (RGE RD, Edmonton), Jeff Crump (Earth to Table Bread Bar, Hamilton and Guelph), Anthony Rose (Rose and Sons, Toronto), Renée Lavallée (The Canteen on Portland, Dartmouth), Tim Steele (Drake Hotel Properties, Toronto), David Gunawan (Farmer’s Apprentice, Vancouver). Photo credit: Gabriel Li.

Restaurants for Change 2017 is made possible by generous participating restaurants and sponsors:

2017 restaurants
Calgary Alforno Bakery & Cafe, Bonterra Trattoria, CHARCUT Roast House, Cibo, Cucina Bistro, Deane House, Foreign Concept, Mill Street Calgary Brewpub, NOtaBLE ~ The Restaurant, Posto Pizzeria & Bar, River Café, Royale Brasserie, Scopa Neighbourhood Italian, Teatro Ristorante, The Nash, Vendome Cafe Edmonton RGE RD Halifax/Dartmouth Agricola Street Brasserie, Battery Park BeerBar & Eatery, enVie A Vegan Kitchen, The Brooklyn Warehouse, The Canteen on Portland Hamilton Earth to Table: Bread Bar, Papa Leo’s Restaurant Guelph Artisanale French Country Cooking, Earth to Table: Bread Bar Kitchener The Berlin Alexandria The Quirky CarrotMontreal Garde Manger, Hopkins, Le Bremner, Monkland Taverne, Park, Porco, Restaurant L’Orignal Niagara-on-the-Lake Backhouse Ottawa Atelier, Clover food | drink, North & Navy, Union Local 613 Perth Fieldhouse Pickering PORT St. John’s Mallard Cottage Stratford The Hub at 27 Marketplace Bayfield Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro Toronto Actinolite, Alo, Bar Begonia, Bar Isabel, Baro, Barque Smokehouse, Bar Raval, Beast, Beaumont Kitchen, Big Crow, Cafe Belong, Carmen, Dailo Restaurant, Drake Commissary, Drake Hotel, Drake One Fifty, Edulis, El Rey, Fat Pasha, Flock 97 Harbord Street, Harry’s Charbroiled, Isaan Der, Kanpai Snack Bar, Madame Boeuf, Mamakas Taverna, Maple Leaf Tavern, Peter Pan Bistro, Piano Piano, Planta, PrettyUgly Bar, Rasa, Richmond Station, Rose and Sons, Rose and Sons Swan, Ruby Watchco, Tennessee Tavern, Union Vancouver Burdock & Co, Farmer's Apprentice, Jamjar Commercial Drive Wellington Drake Devonshire Winnipeg  Ben Kramer Pop-up, Chew, deer + almond, Forth, King + Bannatyne, Promenade Cafe and Wine

2017 sponsors
Lead sponsor: Garland Canada. National media sponsors: Global TV, Food Network, Cooking Channel. Media sponsors: Toronto Life, Avenue Calgary. Community partners: Culinary Tourism Alliance,Terroir.  In-kind partners: J Sutton Communications, Open Table, The Siren Group Inc.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Sweetery

Festival:     The Sweetery
Location:    David Pecaut Square
Date:          August 12  & 13, 2017
Website:     The Sweetery

I'm a bit late in writing this post but I wanted to make sure I gave a bit of props to the Sweetery Festival.  It's a small festival that is billed as Canada's largest sweets festival.  I don't know about that but It's a very cute and compact festival with lots of great things.

It's only a couple of years old but they seem to be getting into their groove now.  It's run in conjunction with George Brown College Culinary students and the team I believe are all students.

Some of the proceeds go to Second Harvest which is a great local food rescue charity.

George Brown College has a fantastic display of classic french pastries. I sampled a light and flakey croissant that was oh so buttery.

It was also great to see Holy Cannoli who are at most food festivals in Toronto and they even sold out one of the days they were so busy.

One of the best things I tried was from the food truck Wafel Bar.  They make the best Liege waffles I have ever eaten.  Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and the flavour is perfection.  I had mine with chocolate ice cream and it was perfect.

They had some savoury food there as well and I had a taste of sweet and spicy corn salad.  I think that was the first thing I tried and my actual breakfast but it was delicious.

I also sampled a Macaron slider.  Although a bit weird to see a burger in a macaroon with nori in the middle it did taste pretty good.  I wonder how people decide to use a macaron for a burger bun but I can only imagine since most of the vendors are young and creative.

I didn't eat a lot because I had another festival to go to afterward but everything I tasted was great.

The thing I like about the Sweetery is the location.  It's located at David Pecaut Square on King St. West.  I like this venue because it's compact and easy to get to and there is a grassy area in the middle where they place big red and white umbrellas to sit under and enjoy your treats.   They also have music to enjoy while you are sampling away.

It's an easy festival to attend because there are no entrance fees and you can just pick and choose your sweet and savoury treats and relax in the sun.

I hope you get a chance to check it out next year and get to see it before people find out it's a sweet little festival.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Back to School & Work Lunches

September is either a sad or happy time of year.  You are sad that summer is over but if you are going back to school you can be excited to see your friends and meet new ones.  September means back to a regular routine and schedule and getting organized with your lunches so that you can get through the school year.

September to me feels like the back to high school time when I volunteer for the Toronto International Film Festival it feels like going back to school after the summer.  We are all excited and we try to catch up on what everyone has been doing.  Some of my Tiff friends take time off work and spend their days watching movies and their nights volunteering. I don't have the energy or time for that these days but the one thing that most of them do is prepare their snacks and food to get them through their busy days.   This September my mission is to try and pack more lunches and snacks for work and for my Tiff shifts.  It takes a lot of organization and time to do it right but hopefully I can set aside more time to batch cook and prepare in advance for the week.  I am a go with the flow kind of person and don't like eating the same thing everyday so this is a challenge for me.

I'm starting my September off with my Sunday Batch cooking Pasta 2 ways.

I took a box of Penne pasta and since it's easy to cook the whole box once and portion it to make different things I decided to make half a cold pasta and the other half a hot pasta.

Sundays are a great day to get your Sunday Sauce as some Italians call it going on the stove.  I just make a simple tomato sauce with chopped onions, garlic, some spices and canned tomatoes and simmer away on the stove.  You can use your favourite jar sauce if you don't have the time but making your own sauce controls the amount of salt that goes in it which is important to me.
The other recipe I made was a simple cold Tuna pasta salad.


1/2 box of Penne pasta
1 stalk of celery
1/2 green pepper chopped
2 green onions chopped
1/4 red onion diced
chopped parsley *optional
1/2 cup of Vinaigrette of 1 part oil and 1 part Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 lemon zest and juice
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 cans of Tuna
*mustard (optional)  you can add a teaspoon of mustard to the vinaigrette but I omitted it.

Cook the whole box of Penne Pasta according to the directions on the package and drain and divide into half the other half reserved for tomato sauce or your favourite pesto sauce.  Place the pasta in a large bowl and add the vinaigrette dressing.  I usually just add enough to coat the pasta and keep it moist so I don't always measure.  I like more acid than oil in my salads but classic vinaigrette is 1 part acid and 2 parts oil.

Add the canned tuna,  I usually drain and rinse slightly to get excess salt out.  I like to control the salt a bit more for the whole salad.

Add the chopped vegetables and fresh herbs like parsley or basil and toss the pasta.

You can add mayonnaise but I skip it because this salad will keep longer and less chance of getting sick if it sits at room temperature.

It's that easy.  Most of the hard work comes in the vegetable prep because the pasta is just boiling water and draining the pasta.

It's great to add the vinaigrette when the pasta is warm so that it absorbs the dressing better and I really like the pasta salad when it's still warm but it will intensify when it sits in the fridge for a while.

The containers you put your lunches in is equally important.  For the cold pasta salad it's ok to use a good plastic container without BPA because you won't be microwaving it and make sure it has a good seal to keep it fresh.
For the Hot meals I always use glass containers if I am going to be microwaving them.  When I am at work I see people microwaving their lunches in cheap plastic containers.  That's the worst thing you can do because it leaches the plastic into your food.  I am not a huge fan of microwaves and use very sparingly.  At my office I have a ceramic mug with a handle that I can microwave things like chili and soup so that it's easy to take out of the microwave and it has a plastic lid with a vent.  That might not be as practical for a school lunch but easy to keep in your desk at the office.

Sometimes the best way to have great lunches is to get great containers ready to pack your lunches and snacks.  From ziplock bags to small containers for dressings and hot or cold dishes and containers that have portion separators so that things don't get soggy.

My fellow Food Revolution Ambassadors are masters of school lunches as most of them have kids or work with kids everyday.  You can WIN a great lunch containers and a Jamie Oliver cookbook in our September Food Revolution Challenge to make great school lunches.

September means back to school and we want to help you get off to a great start with this month’s extra special contest! A healthy and delicious lunch sets your kids (or you!) up for a productive day of learning and fun.
Share a pic of your healthy lunch with our team on social media and you will be eligible to win not only a Jamie Oliver cookbook courtesy of HarperCollins Canada but also an OmieLife lunchbox!! This is no ordinary lunchbox – you can pack hot and cold foods all in one box and when you don’t want hot food, you can just remove the thermos! Think soup and a salad, pasta and some fruit, fried rice and a nice slaw – the options are endless! We will sharing all kinds of great ideas here and can’t wait to see your healthy school - or work - lunches!

How to enter:
Show us your healthy lunch! Snap a photo of your lunch and tell us a little bit about what you made and how.
You MUST use the hashtag #CookwithFoodRevTO AND tag us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. That's it! Then you'll be entered to win a lunchbox and a cookbook!
Eligibility and contest rules:
– Contest begins on September 1st 2017 at 6am EST on and closes September 30th 2017 at 6pm EST.
– Prize consists of one (1) Jamie Oliver cookbook and (1) OmieBox lunchbox
– Open to readers of the age of majority with a Canadian mailing address.
– No purchase of any product necessary for entry.
– Winner will be chosen randomly (using from all qualified entries on September 30th 2017 after 6pm EST.
– Winner will be notified via email October 1st 2017 and will have 48 hours to respond to the email.
– Winner will be required to answer a skill testing question.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Best Places to eat at TIFF17

With the constant change happening in Toronto and all of the restaurants that come and go and even changes to how the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) organizes their festival it has made creating this list change every year.  I am always happy to discover new great places to eat but there are a few places that just become go to places year after year.   This time I will classify my list in a new way adding *New* this year and I will only list places I would eat at from $ - $$$.  Sometimes you don't have time and want something fast and cheap and sometimes you have time to kill between films and are in need of some solid food so I will list my best bets for both.

Starving Foodie's Guide to the BEST EATS at TIFF17

Bell Tiff Lightbox - 350 King Street West

A&W Restaurant - 8 Mercer Street  
You just want some cheap and fast burgers and fries this is your best bet.
Luma or Canteen in the Bell Tiff Lightbox - 350 King St. W.  
Conveniently located in the Lightbox and near the Princess of Wales theatre great when you have time to go far between films.
Montecito - 328 Wellington St. W. 
This place is a hidden Industry secret.  Owned by great filmmaker Ivan Reitman. It’s on the high end but the food is pure quality comfort food.
Calii Love – 367 King St. West
You will probably find me here a lot during Tiff.  I love Poke Bowls for quick and light fare that will keep me running up those Roy Thompson Hall stairs.

Elgin and Winter Carden Theatre - 189 Yonge Street

Richmond Station - 1 Richmond St. West 
Top Chef winner Carl Heinrich makes his signature double beef burgers and their pastry chef is legendary.
The Chase - 10 Temperance Street
The Chase has a fantastic roof-top patio and sister shop Little Fin will be turned into a Planta take-out location soon.
*New - Sud Forno
I fell in love when I walked in the first time.  You can take-out or eat in.  It’s their second location and it’s glorious.  Salads, sandwiches, pizza, hot table items and Italian pastries.  
Carbon Bar - 99 Queen St E.
Need a great drink and some BBQ then this is the place. In the former City TV building the space is open and lush and the food is filling and fantastic.
*New - Saks Food Hall by Pusateri's - 176 Yonge Street
My stop for the best roast beef sandwich by the inch and whatever you crave to go.

Glenn Gould Studio at CBC - 250 Front Street West

Wahlbergers - 46 Blue Jays Way 
Owned by brothers Donny, Mark and Paul Wahlberg.  
Their own Burgers etc
*NewKellys Landing – 123 Front Street West. 
It opened recently and I have already been there twice, once for a preview and went back for their light and flavourful Tuna Poke, it’s mostly tuna and fresh.
* New - Mascot Brewery31 Mercer Street
Rooftop Patio with their own beer and great variety in their Pub style menu. Get the Mascot Burger.

Jackman Hall, AGO - 317 Dundas Street West

Mean Bao - Village by the Grange Food Court  
Cheap, fast Bao's and dumplings
Provo Food Bar - 308 Dundas St. W.
Gourmet Casual dining and the food is really good too.
Frank - 317 Dundas Street West in the AGO
I have had food from the AGO catering at events and it's pretty good.

Scotiabank Theatre - 259 Richmond Street West

* New - Ricarda’s - 134 Peter St.
Mediterranean Restaurant and Bakery.
Carver Eatery - 101 Peter St.  
This place is a tiny hidden gem with the best award winning slow roasted sandwich take-out. 
Thoroughbred 304 Richmond St. W.
A place to chill with some interesting food and a drink.
*New - KIIN (former Khao San Road) - 326 Adelaide St. W.
Chef Nuit took Thai up another level for KIIN.

Princess of Wales Theatre - 300 King Street West

PAI 18 Duncan St.
Great Thai food.  It's a busy place but it's the real deal.  They have a tiny patio.
Figo - 295 Adelaide St. W.
Close to the Princess of Wales and Lightbox theatres.  Great classic Italian Food and they have a patio too.  
Get the Zucchini Fritti
*New - KIIN (former Khao San Road) - 326 Adelaide St. W.
It will be busy so try and avoid peak times.  
Popular with foodies in the know.

Roy Thompson Hall - 60 Simcoe Street

Ritz Carlton - DEQ - 181 Wellington St.W.
This is where my Entourage team congregates to on long weekend shifts for a break between films or after a film.  Great patio and the Parmesan fries are great.
Elephant & Castle 212 King St. West
This is where my Entourage team goes when we are hungry because it's comfort food that fills you up and you can get a beer too.  The menu has changed but the food is still great. You can get Jalapeno Mac and Cheese with Chicken or Shrimp.  It's fantastic and the perfect amount.  
Los Colibris /El Cabalito - 220 King St. West
Tacos, they got Tacos and guacamole and Los Colibris has upscale Mexican food.  They have a rooftop patio but be warned the music is really loud.

Ryerson  - 43 Gerrard St. E.

Banh Mi Boys - 399 Yonge Street
Fast, cheap and great.  My fav is the Fried Chicken Banh Mi sandwich.
Salad King -340 Yonge Street
Ryerson students may be everywhere. Always packed. You can eat in communal style or take out. 
Hot Star Fried Chicken – 374 Yonge Street
Very popular with the young Asian crowd.  If you want hand held pounded fried chicken this is the place for you.  They just opened their 2nd location in North York.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lechon Fest at Wychwood Barns

Announcing WONDER CHEF CANADAthe Culinary Showdown segment in the

WONDER CHEF CANADA (WCC) Culinary Showdown is a competition project of the
in LECHON FEST (LF) with a mission to brand Philippine cuisine by recognizing
Filipino-Canadian amateur cooks and food enthusiasts, and bring greater awareness
and appreciation of Filipino cuisine among the global community at large. Partial
proceeds to build a library in an orphanage ​partner ​in the Philippines ages 1-21.
It will be held on Sept 2-3 at Wychwood Barns, from 3pm to 6pm.

The competition will showcase the cooking prowess and expertise of up to 7 amateur
Filipino-American cooks and foodies. There is only one category of entrées which could
include: Kare-kare, Escabeche, Caldereta, Menudo, Afritada, Pochero, Pinakbet, Sisig,
&Laing. The winner will receive a trip for 2 to Iceland. (why? Because it’s a cool place to
“We hope that through WCC, we could encourage all residents in our community to
actively support Filipino restaurants in the GTA and also boost participation from
community organizations, business entities and other groups in this advocacy
campaign.” says Julian Baricuatro, founder of WCC and LF.

The actual event Lechon Fest Canada (LFC) is a pioneer caravan festival which aims
to preserve and promote the diverse Asian cuisine & culinary heritage and strengthen
the ties that bind Filipino-Canadians.

The centerpiece of the fiesta, the “star of the show”, so to speak, will be the lechon in
several forms – from whole roast pig to lechon manok and the humble yet succulent
lechon kawali. There will also be folk dances, arts and music.

The opening ceremonies start at noon and the festival is on till 9pm
There is a book drive with partial proceeds to build a library in an orphanage
​partner ​in the Philippines ages 1-21.

For more info: #lechonfest or #lechonfestival or

Thursday, August 24, 2017

4th Annual Coconut Festival - Aug 26


Toronto hosts Canada’s 4th Annual Coconut Festival and Marketplace on Saturday, August 26, 2017, at David Pecaut Square. Coconut Festival Canada produces the event to connect all communities to learn about the coconuts’ various health benefits & diverse addictive delicious culinary and lifestyle uses with the addition of a Book Drive for an orphanage partner in the Philippines.

It’s a Free General Admission event featuring 60+ vendors dealing with coconut in your food choices, wellness program, cleaning, cosmetics, fashion and more from Asia & Pan America. You can taste and shop for various coconut products including those from local artisans: vegan coconut cakes, spreads, oils, energy snacks, chips, dips drinks, organic baby food and more. And full meals from the Caribbean, Thailand & , Hawaii. 

Date: SatAugust 26 (10am to 8pm)

Venue: David Pecaut Square, downtown Toronto (55 John St., the beautiful square between King and Wellington)

Exhibitors: 70 specialty vendors, 20 community chefs and speakers

Parking: Lots of nearby street parking available, as well as underground parking in such lots as Roy Thomson Hall

Festival admission: FREE!

Special Activities: Talks and lectures,
 Hawaiian dance, yoga, presentations and activities, fresh coconuts, delicious food, & health & wellness products 

Culinary Showdown Montreal

1st CULINARY SHOWDOWN IN MONTREAL  DEFI CULINAIRE SHOWDOWN The Jewish General Hospital and Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation Host Celeb...