Sunday, November 19, 2017

Eva's Initiatives for Homeless Youth Fundraiser

DATE:  Nov 2, 2017
LOCATION:  Liberty Grand, Toronto
CHARITY:  Eva's Initiatives for Homeless Youth
Social:  #TasteMatters

TASTE MATTERS is a Fundraiser that benefits Eva's Initiatives a charitable organization that helps homeless youth. Eva's Initiatives was created for Eva Smith who emigrated to Canada in 1956.  She passed away in 1993 and a few years later the Satellite Emergency youth shelter was created in Toronto.  It helps youth between 16-24 with emergency shelter and assistance.

The Taste Matters event is hosted by cookbook authors and sisters, Julie Albert & Lisa Gnat to continue raising funds for the much needed services in Toronto.

The Fundraising event was held at the spectacular Liberty Grand at Exhibition Place where 22 Food and beverage vendors in Toronto provided samples of their food and drink.  Below are a few of the things I sampled at the event including Rancho Relaxo's Fish Tacos, ones of the longest lineups.  I also enjoyed the Butternut squash ravioli from North 44 and the salmon Tartare from the Edible Story.

They also had a raffle and silent auction.  These are a couple of the things from the silent auction that caught my eye but unfortunately I don't have anywhere to put them.

 For more information on how you can help check out their website

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Michelin Star Chef from Italy comes to Toronto for Cent Italia


Event:  CENTItalia Dinner
Location:  Nella Cucina on Bathurst
Chef:  Cristina Bowerman
Hosted by:  Italian Chamber of Commerce & Centennial College
Date:  November 16, 2017

My friend Natalie invited me to join her for what she called "some Italian event in the Annex".  All she told was that it was a dinner and since I had a long and busy day and knew I wasn't going to want to cook when I went home and love Italian food I said I would join her.  We met at a coffee shop in the Annex and the she told me it was at Nella Cucina and I wondered if it was a hands on thing because that space was usually used for interactive cooking demos but she said no it was sit down dinner.  And indeed it was a sit down dinner but it was with an Italian Michelin Star Chef who just that day announced that she received her 2nd Michelin Star.  Her name is Cristina Bowerman and she is the only female Michelin star chef in Italy.  Glass Hosteria is located in Rome, Italy where food is probably the number one reason for tourist to visit there besides the art and architecture. You know that most people dream of eating Italian food in Italy including me but we were lucky to have her cooking for us at Nella Cucina in Toronto for one of CentItlaia's various events brought to Toronto by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Centennial College.  This was the only event I was able to attend out of a few during the week but probably the one that I would have wanted to attend the most anyway.  So you never know how events are going to be but I am glad I was able to attend this one because the food was amazing and so many different flavour combinations made it really interesting.  Check out the dishes we had:

 Jerusalem Artichokes and potato cream, creamed bacala and bread chips

The best part of this was the Artichoke cream.

Risotto with butter, anchovies, candied ginger, lemon and caper powder and demi glace.

This risotto was made with Italian Canaroli rice which is slightly larger than Arborio and the perfect rice for Risotto but a lot harder to find in Toronto.  The taste of this risotto was the best I have ever had and a surprising mix of flavours.  We all inhaled this little bowl of rice. 

Scallops, dashi pistachio, mushroom and kumquat and bonito flakes.

This dish has the most perfectly cooked scallops which were cross hatched to absorb the butter and the combination of the other ingredients on the plate were a mix of Italian with Asian touches.  

Ricotta cheese soup, candied fruit and zeppole.

We couldn't get enough of this dessert.  They made a lot of the Zeppole's which are light as air Italian donuts and because there were so many we ended up eating 3 each because they are so light you just want to keep eating them.

 Petits four chocolates

And we wrapped up our delicious Michelin Star meal with some fine chocolates but honestly we just wanted to eat more zeppoles.  

I hope that one day I can visit Italy and have Cristina's food in her element.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chowder Chowdown - Serves up Sustainability

Event:  Chowder Chowdown
Date:   November 14, 2017
Location:  The Fermenting Cellar - Distillery District - Toronto

November is Ocean Wise Seafood month and last night I had the privilege of attending the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown for the second year in a row at the amazing Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District.  Although it's a hike to get there once you are at the Distillery you feel like you have gone somewhere else in the world.  There is nothing else like it in Toronto.  And the Fermenting Cellar is a great place for a Chowder Chowdown contest brought to you by some great Chefs in Toronto.  Centennial College was also one of the participants.  This event is a fundraising event for Ocean Wise's Sustainable Seafood Program.  It's a fun event where there are 5 Top Chefs and food industry people as Judges including Brad Long and Martin Kouprie this year.  It is hosted by Vancouver Chef Ned Bell who is a champion for Seafood Sustainability and who has a new cookbook called LURE that has just been released. It's a fun event where the Judges judge but also the attendees get to place their votes.

And the Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion is......
For the second year in a row, a judging panel of food-savvy media, chefs and industry leaders selected Chefs Chris Torgis and Joel Gray as the 2017 Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Chowdown Champions. The Thornbury-based restaurant presented chowder lovers with their patriotic Canada 150 Coast to Coast Chowder . It featured a mélange of sustainable seafood, including Ontario farmed whiteleg shrimp, Gulf of St. Lawrence crab, Lake Huron smoked whitefish and wild Pacific ikura, complemented by local corn velouté, wild leek pesto and pickled roots and left the judges wanting more. The attendees voted Scout’s Cannery as the People’s Choice Award winner, selected for their Scout’s Scullery Soup, made with clams, mussels and haddock.

Chef Ned Bell
Chef Dave Mottershall

Judges included:
     Brad Long, Owner and Executive Chef, Café Belong
        Martin Kouprie, Executive Chef
      Kristin Donovan, Co-Owner, Hooked Inc.
      Joseph Chiaravalloti, Sustainability Specialist, Seacore Seafood Inc.
        Rita DeMontis, National Food Editor, Sun Media


 Even though the Chowders are served in little bowls, there were 14 of them so I think  I only tried about half of them.  My favourite was the not very Chowder like Thai Tomato by SOCO Kitchen.  I just loved the balanced flavour and a kick of heat at the end but it was very far away from a traditional chowder so I can see why they chose a more traditional chowder by Bruce Wine Bar with their National Seafood Chowder.

2017 Ocean Wise Restaurant Finalists

The Beverly on Locke
Chef Rory O'LearyCatfish and Caviar Chowder
Bistro '67Chef Raul SojoOyster and Bacon Chowder
Bruce Wine Bar
Chef Chris Torgis and Chef Joel GrayNational Seafood Chowder
Centennial College: The Local Café and Restaurant
Chef Nick MooreSmoked Seafood Chowder
Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
Chef Murray McDonaldCod Chowder
Distillery Events and Archeo
Chef de Cuisine Joshua Dyer
Wampanohog Chowder
Le Sélect Bistro
Chef Laura MaxwellSnow Crab and Smoked Clam Chowder
Chef Dave MottershallPEI Potato Mussel Chowder
PORT RestaurantChef Samantha JoyceClam Chowder with Bacon and Grilled Clams
Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill
Chef Danny Chae
Asian Inspired Clam Chowder
The Restaurant at Peninsula Ridge Winery
Executive Chef Matt Hemmingsen
Chowder with Lobster Grilled Cheese
Rodney's Oyster House
Chef Rodrigo de Romana
Bahamian Seafood Chowder
Scout Canning
Chef Charlotte Langley
Scout’s Scullery Soup
SOCO Kitchen + Bar, Delta Toronto
Chef Keith PearsThe “TTC” Thai Tomato Chowder

These Chowder Chowdown events are held in Toronto and Vancouver and for more information you can check out their website: Vancouver Aquarium 

The Ocean Wise seafood program began as a grassroots movement in Vancouver in 2005 and is now Canada’s most recognizable sustainable seafood program. What started as an initiative involving 16 chefs has expanded to include more than 700 partners with locations from Victoria to St. John’s.