Category Archives: Food

20170517_191443

TORONTO’S INSIDE OUT FILM FESTIVAL SPONSOR PARTY HOSTED @ URBAN SOURCE CATERING & URBAN GALLERY

My friends at URBAN SOURCE CATERING did themselves proud last night when they treated the sponsors and corporate partners of the Inside Out Film Festival to a medley of tasty treats and refreshing party cocktails and wines.20170517_184957Below, Urban Source Catering’s co-owner Wayne Abell welcomed the Festival’s newly appointed Exec. Director, Andria Wilson, to URBAN GALLERY… 
20170517_174316…and Andria, in turn, welcomed Inside Out’s special guests to the pre-Festival launch party such as Kelly from RBC (below R with Brad Campbell, Dir. of Corp. Sales for the fest).20170517_174449Andria got busy with social media postings along with colleagues Clayton and Andrew (LtoR, below)20170517_174713Delicious bite-sized treats were served along with wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic bevvies by the catering staff below)20170517_175001 20170517_174119Andria enjoyed a few nibblies with the guests…20170517_175103(0)…and enjoyed the festivities with colleagues Winnie Luk (below L), the Dir. of Operations & Events, and Andrew Murphy (below R) Dir. of Programming.20170517_180533Then it was time for the presentation and teaser trailer of upcoming festival films20170517_181059 20170517_181136 20170517_181347Congrats to Marketing & Outreach Mgr, Clayton Lee (below R) and tech assistant CJ (L) for helping present the video.20170517_182738Brad’s assistant, Nick (below R) posed for a quick snapshot with Festival Coordinator Jayne Schneider (L) in front of photographic art being featured in this year’s CONTACT show at Urban Gallery…20170517_184027…and below, gallery owner Calvin Hambrook lined up the guests for even more photo opps.20170517_185644As many guests observed, the table decorations were elegant and colourful…20170517_185057 20170517_185113If you’d like to learn more about the Inside Out Film Festival and see this year’s line-up of LGBTQ-focused films, please visit their website: www.insideout.ca

And if you’d like to learn more about the fabulous catering offered by Urban Source Catering and the exquisite adjoining venue available for corporate & private rentals, Urban Gallery, please visit their websites:  www.urbancatering.comwww.urbangallery.ca

Urban Gallery is located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto (just 1 block E of Parliament) with street and lot parking close by.IMG_5575

 

20170504_141123

I VISIT THE EXCITING CANADIAN TIRE MOTORSPORT PARK!

As an auto racing fan from waaaaaay back (and author of 4 books on auto racing), this was a dream come true for me when I joined a group of Toronto event planners for a visit to the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park out near Bowmanville, about an hour East of Toronto. They’ve created a beautifully appointed multi-level corp. event & banquet centre that’s suitable for business meetings, team building activities, weddings, any sort of group gathering, and I got to experience the wonderful catering companies they use.  I was thrilled to meet racing legend & Cdn Motorsport Hall of Fame driver Ron Fellows, his wife Lynda, son Sam and their charming team of marketing, hospitality and sales staff who run the venue.

Fearing the worst weather conditions, I joined my raincoat-clad events industry colleagues on the big white courtesy bus provided by www.luxury.to and started off early on Wednesday morning. Like a bunch of big kids, we were all “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” and after about an hour, the bus pulled into the CTMP grounds.20170504_10442620170504_112702And weren’t we lucky…they were doing some testing with Porches and Ferraris when we turned up. Vrooooom!

We were officially greeted by these lovely ladies who were our personal guides for the day.20170504_112329…then on to the presentations to learn more about the facilities and how they can be used for any of our special events.20170504_114831 20170504_113044Joining me was Zev Bertini, Business Development for Arrowonics.com (a new Toronto-based tech design company that creates awesome designs and light shows using multiple mini drones). Here he is (above) chatting to events reps, doin’ the business schmooze. Then it was on to lunch and oh boy, what a deelish spread they laid on for us….20170504_114846My first stop was Shrimp Cocktail‘s catering table…. Yummmm!  www.shrimpcocktailcafe.com20170504_121129 20170504_12115220170504_121155Then on to The Garage Guy BBQ whose sliders were so tasty….I went back for seconds! www.thegarageguy.ca20170504_121319 20170504_121341 20170504_121327(yes, you need big strong muscles to carry this many sliders…haa haa!)

My next nibblies stop was Pilar’s Catering whose Korean BBQ chicken pops and empanadas were scrumptious! www.Pilarscatering.ca20170504_122635 20170504_122641 20170504_122654Next on my tasting menu (below) was the desserts table…OMG, I was in chocoholic heaven, thanks to the ladies of KCC Gourmet & Catering Inc.  www.kccgourmetcatering.com20170504_122716 20170504_122721I needed more savoury bites so I then went over to the Peter & Pauls table for some of their special lobster mac & cheese. Definitely a winner…wish I’d gone back for more (am still licking my lips from that one!) www.bypeterandpauls.com20170504_123245It was then time for a drinkies so I visited Steve (below) from REIF Estate Winery (from the Niagara wine region) who was sampling some of their tasty wines. www.reifwinery.com 20170504_124504 20170504_124514A couple of the attendees won a draw for a quick trip around the track with Ron at the wheel…dammit, I didn’t win but at least I got to snap some pics of the lucky ones who did (below)20170504_122129 20170504_122157Zev and I had fun at the photo wall…20170504_125555 20170504_125543…where I also ran into an old friend, Mark Awad (below L) from bbBlanc Audio/Visual who was attending with a colleague. www.bbblanc.com20170504_125242We were then given a tour of the various track facilities and several guests posed out front with some of the cars from the Ron Fellows Driving Experience – yes, you too can learn to drive like a race car driver!  20170504_130317 20170504_130334 20170504_130604As our big bus wound through the Grand Prix grounds, we spied some of the racers…oooo, hot men & fast cars – what more could a girl want??!!20170504_131731…and there’s the podium (below) where all race winners pose with their trophies and pit crews20170504_131614We then stopped by the karting track (below) where I spied some of the racing suits hanging up…I nearly grabbed one and took a turn on the track myself!20170504_132526 20170504_132318Zev jumped up on the kart podium (below) and struck a pose with some of the event planners…LOL20170504_132928(0)..then after one last visit to the event centre to watch more of the on-track activity (below) …..

…we bade farewell to everyone and headed back to Toronto. All this time, the monsoon-like rain that had been forecast was kept at bay until we got back into the city then down she came! Farewell, CTMP, and thanks for your warm and generous hospitality…we will all be back soon.

I encourage you to visit the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, either for business or pleasure, and you can find all the information on corporate events, weddings, race days and speed weekends on their website: www.canadiantiremotorsportpark.com

 

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TORONTO’S URBANSOURCE CATERING CELEBRATES 32YR ANNIVERSARY TODAY!

I’d like to offer a very special shout-out to my friends Wayne Abell and Calvin Hambrook who, as UrbanSource Catering, have fed-n-watered Toronto’s corporate and private sectors for 32 years….yes, today is their anniversary and I’m thrilled to present them with this virtual celebration!

Starting off on Yonge Street (south of Eglinton), Wayne and Calvin (pictured below L to R) opened their first store in 1985 offering prepared foods, lattes and lots of catering advice.Crazy Owners Opening DayThey soon outgrew their quaint shop housed in a terrace of historical buildings, and based on customer demands, they changed the business model from a retail store-come caterers to a full service catering company. The catering biz grew fast so they moved to their current location on Queen Street East which houses a large commercial kitchen and a suite of offices. Several years ago, the space next door became vacant so Calvin and Wayne took that over and launched Urban Gallery, a non-commission independent art gallery that also serves as a great event space for rent. Needless to say, they cater ALL the events in the gallery.20161216_184023 20160930_181245 20140918_175000Apart from their corporate events, private parties and spectacular wedding soirees, UrbanSource Catering has supported many of Toronto’s philanthropic causes, catering fundraisers, media launches and special events, eg: United Church’s Heart & Vision Awards, Fife House, PRIDE Toronto, plus the annual InsideOut Film Festival.

Bravo and congratulations to Calvin, Wayne and the staff of UrbanSource Catering – you continually deliver the best, on time and on budget!Calvin, Wayne and the URBAN SOURCE CATERING Crew

www.urbancatering.comC

 

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MEET LYNDON WIEBE, EXECUTIVE CHEF OF URBANSOURCE CATERING IN TORONTO

For the past few years, I’ve been blogging about and promoting the talented foodie folks who work at URBANSOURCE CATERING here in Toronto, and have come to admire their executive chef LYNDON WIEBE for not only his super deelish food but also for his outstanding photography snapped during his many adventures abroad. In fact, Lyndon had a solo photographic art show at the adjoining Urban Gallery a couple of years ago (see below).Invitation Image Masai Tribesman Tanzania DSC_1155 20150115_165421(0) 20150115_165433Lyndon’s pictures captured real life in-situ in some of the remotest outposts of humanity, and his engagement and relationships with the local people can clearly be seen in his images. Below, Lyndon poses modestly in front of one of my favourite pictures.20150115_172636I recently asked him about the transition from globe-trotting chef/photographer to executive chef at UrbanSource Catering and he kindly shared his thoughts here:

How long have you been executive chef at UrbanSource Catering?  In March of 2017, I will have been the Executive Chef at Urban Source for five years. With Urban Gallery next door, there are always receptions and corporate soirees to cater on a weekly basis.CAs a celebrity chef from the successful travel/food tv series (Chefs Run Wild, how did you adjust to being a little more “chained to the stove” working in a commercial/catering kitchen with staff to manage?  I think celebrity chef is a bit of a strong word, maybe minor television celebrity chef is more accurate…LOL I am by no means a Chuck Hughes or Anthony Bourdain, but it is flattering nonetheless. We were referred to as “Baby Bourdains” in an article on us in the National Post newspaper, which I thought was funny.CRW.71130027

Lyndon behind the camera, shooting a segment for Chefs Run Wild in S.E. Asia

Lyndon behind the camera, shooting a segment for Chefs Run Wild in S.E. Asia

I lived, traveled and worked overseas for over 7 years and have been working in kitchens since I was sixteen, so coming back to work in Urban’s kitchen was nothing new to me, as I have always been a hands-on chef. Don’t get me wrong, the whole television experience was exciting and exhilarating, but was also exhausting and, at times, filled with anxiety. Would I trade that experience for anything? Absolutely not!  It was incredible and showed me a different side of television which was cool, however, it was fleeting – for me cooking is not fleeting and will always be a big part of my life. So, after my nice seven month break when I moved to Toronto, I was more than happy to take over the reigns in a new kitchen with a new crew at Urban.

You’re also an accomplished photographer and artist – do you continue to undertake camera safaris or have you adapted your photography to include food and presentations?  Yes, I’m still an avid photographer and still go on photo safaris when the time and weather allows. I just got an iPhone and have started using it a lot more as portable camera to take shots on my ride to and from work or when I’m out and about in the city. It comes in handy and the quality of the images has definitely improved with the technology.  As for food photography, it’s not really my thing. I think I just got sick of everybody taking photos and showing the world what they were eating on Instagram every single day. There are tons of beautiful food photographs out there and it makes me want to eat every dish I see, but as a subject matter I prefer streetscapes, nature and people. My girlfriend only recently convinced me to set up an Instagram account (@LyndonWiebe), so I have been using that as a means to show my work. Call me old fashioned, I just fight new technology sometimes even though it is helpful, just for the sake of fighting it. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks etc, although it’s more like this old dog just doesn’t want to learn new tricks. On top of that, I have an online gallery to sell my works and have just recently been asked to join Vida at their request. Vida is a company that lets artists transform their artwork into their own fashion line. I upload my artwork and from there I can choose to put that design onto shirts, pillows, blankets, scarves and many other accessories and create my own fashion line – it’s quite a neat concept. I’m just in the beginning stages of that venture so it will take a while to get it off the ground.  My online portfolio is located here: https://www.direct2artist.com/artists/lyndonwiebe

20150115_165637 20150115_171715As Urban’s chef, you’re responsible for creative exciting menus each season for clients – what has been your most challenging catering project to date?  One of our biggest clients has a standing order for catered meals for their staff four to five days a week. The biggest challenge lies in keeping the menus fresh, creative and in budget without repeating menus if we can help it, or unless they ask for a specific menu again. Doing that for fifty weeks a year can be a challenge as you always have to be thinking about availability of ingredients depending on what season you are in. It is even more of a challenge when they ask for stuff that is not in season, but with imports these days we can get fruits and veggies of all varieties year round. But a strawberry in January in Toronto is not going to taste as good as an Ontario strawberry in the summertime. It’s being able to source an ingredient and make sure you can still deliver the flavours they expect.Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Crostini with caramelized onionCF233520160531_18421720160531_184035As we move closer to Spring, what food items or dishes are on your radar as trend-setting and that will be added to the seasonal Urban Catering menus?  With Spring comes the shift away from tuber and root vegetable heavy dishes, which I am always excited about. We will start to see rhubarb, fiddle heads, peas, asparagus, radish, spring beets, and in June the strawberry and cherry season begins. We also see fresh cauliflower come June, so hopefully that will bring the price of it down as it is pretty expensive right now.  When it comes to fresh vegetables, I tend to let the foods speak for themselves. Peas and asparagus are given a quick blanch and tossed in a little butter and salt and pepper. Beets can be shaved with fresh radish and thrown in a kale and grain salad. Ramps and fiddle heads I love to put in a light and delicate quiche. Rhubarb can finely sliced and thrown in salads to give them an unexpected crunch and tartness or make a strawberry & rhubarb crumble which is always a favourite. Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables as it has so many applications. Tacos are still huge in the food scene so for vegetarians – we offer spicy cauliflower tacos in place of beef or chicken tacos. Also good for Korean fried cauliflower (which people can’t seem to get enough of) or Buffalo cauliflower “wings”. My favourite dish that I came up with is cauliflower laap, or larb depending where you come from. It’s an adaptation of the traditional pork or chicken dish found in Thailand and Laos. It’s a cooked crumbled meat dish that is served room temperature with fresh shallot, mint, cilantro, fish sauce, lime juice, bird’s eye chilies and toasted ground rice. The flavours are incredible.

During production of Chefs Run Wild, you cooked weird and wonderful ingredients from around the world – what’s your favourite international cuisine to cook and what’s the strangest ingredient you had to use on the show?   It’s hard to say what cuisine is my favourite to cook because in that region of South East Asia, their flavours and ideas are very similar and they all borrow off of each other and add their own twists. Anything from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore are my favourite foods to cook and eat, even Laos has amazing food. It’s the balance of flavours that I learned from there when cooking that style of food that is the most important thing. Sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter are the five flavours you always have to consider when creating a perfectly balanced dish. If you have all of these flavours in your dish, you have created something special.IMG_3587In terms of weird ingredients, there are many. There is an area in Thailand known as the Issan Province on the border with Laos. It is very agriculturally poor. The land is not suitable for farming and they cannot grow a lot there so the people have lived off whatever the land provides them with. So they eat a lot of bugs and insects for protein wand they employ odd flavor combinations at times. Ant egg salad was a classic recipe we learned. The ant eggs themselves look like yogurt covered raisins, until you put one in your mouth and it pops like a giant pimple in your mouth – let me tell you, the pop is very unsettling…it was like eating a small eyeball! The experience makes me cringe, but for the people of Issan, it’s a normal everyday meal.  IMG_3466Another thing they used over there was pork blood. Now, congealed or cooked pork blood in cubes is quite common over there and you see it everywhere. It is actually quite delicious. But in Issan we made a dish called “pork waterfall”(that was the literal translation) and to top off this dish they had a squeeze bottle of raw pork blood diluted with vinegar which they just poured over top of the dish. Not going to lie, it was not very appetizing at all. We couldn’t even finish it, but we had had to try it, because you don’t know till you try.IMG_3524Any advice for people considering engaging a caterer for their special event, wedding or corporate soiree?  What do they need to consider – budget, type of food, venue, service, etc?  Wwhen you call a caterer, it’s important to have a vision of what you want and it’s also important to have a realistic and flexible budget in mind. I say realistic, because some clients call and want five courses of food with full waiter service, but only have $5 per person in their budget and are unprepared by the real costs of hosting a catering. I also recommend getting a few different quotes so you can compare what’s on offer. It’s no different than buying a car or a house.  Check the UrbanSource Catering website to see a selection of menus that appeal to every taste, every occasion and every budget. www.urbancatering.com

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URBAN GALLERY HOSTS IN MAGAZINE’S END-OF-YEAR BASH!

Last Friday (Dec.16/16) friends and sponsors of IN Magazine joined the publishing team for their annual end-of-year bash at URBAN GALLERY located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto (www.urbangallery.ca).

With delicious hors d’oeuvres and cocktails served by sister company Urban Source Catering, the guests enjoyed a fabulous night celebrating another successful year of publishing for the glossy magazine targeting Toronto’s LGBT community.  www.inmagazine.ca/20161216_180758The current show by local artist Meghan Thomas provided the perfect edgy backdrop for the festivities (below)20161216_174229 20161216_182237Publisher Patricia Salib is pictured above right with guests, as is Dir. of  Marketing Woodrow Monteiro (below, right).20161216_180817 20161216_181614The guests really enjoyed the specialty cocktails, especially the refreshing & highly potent Tipsy Elf (above/below)20161216_183359Charming server Melissa (below) kept everyone well-fed…20161216_181641…while bartender Mischa (pictured below) kept everyone well-lubricated!!20161216_174719The holiday spread was quite spectacular – my favourite is this amazing brie (below) with its crispy, crunchy, sugary crust…mmmm, yum!20161216_17472920161216_18063920161216_18074620161216_174750

Urban Gallery provides the perfect space for smaller corporate events (up to 80 cap.) or private functions so please visit their website for rental details www.urbangallery.ca. Likewise, UrbanSource Catering offers a selection of menus for cocktail parties, gala dinners or buffets or smaller family occasions. For menu selections, visit www.urbancatering.com

Gallery and catering company owners Calvin Hambrook and Wayne Abell (pictured below, L to R) wish all their clients and artists the happiest of holidays.20161216_181141

 

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COME WALK THE AISLES OF TORONTO’S NATIONAL WOMEN’S SHOW WITH ME….

Thanks to KJ Mullins, publisher of the web-based NEWZ4U.ca news portal, I was granted a media pass to explore the National Women’s Show today and wow, what a blast I had!  Arriving just before the doors were open to the public, I was able to get a running start (I soon slowed to a plod as I got weighed down by samples and freebies) on the thousands of “civilian” attendees so sit back, relax, grab a cuppa joe and enjoy this virtual tour.

My first stop was the charming HRH Custom Creations booth where I met Amy and say her beautifully made metal signs and butterflies. www.hrhcustomcreations.com20161104_105702(0)Then next up I was drawn into the Sweets Canada booth where Sam Dhutia and his pretty assistant let me sample some of their flower-infused artisan chocolate. Sam gave me a box of Q’bites with milk chocolate and black licorice and a deelish bar of Dark Chocolate/Cranberry with Lavender petals to bring home and I just had my first bite….OMG – yummm. Check out their range of edible flower & chocolate treats here: www.sweetscanada.com 20161104_110107 20161104_110111 20161104_110116I love the Happy Bees Honey man (below) who was so pleased to sample his yummy treats. I caved in a bought a jar – I’ll probably christen it tomorrow on my breakfast toast. Based in Welland, Ontario, his busy winged workers feast on wildflowers so their products are naturally sweet and oh so good for you.  www.happybeesapiary.ca20161104_111008 20161104_111202Across the aisle, I found products courtesy of African “killer bees”! Yikes….the lip balm was actually quite lovely and they also offered great little stocking stuffers such as beeswax candles and mini honey jars (see below) www.africanbronzehoney.com20161104_111549 20161104_111607I was intrigued by the Enright Cattle Co. booth (below) showcasing their fashionably rugged leather bags, totes and purses. The cattle farm based in Tweed uses the hides from their beef beasties and, as a meat-eater, I was all in favour of this company’s “use every part” philosophy.  www.enrightcattlecompany.com20161104_112235 20161104_112253I then met entrepreneur Eriver Muwanguzi who is introducing African jewellery and fashion designers to Toronto through his company, Tofara  www.tofara.com  He showed me unique handcrafted pieces from various countries and I was blown away by these statement pieces (below).20161104_112628 20161104_112637 20161104_112700I had some fun schmoozing with the “ladies in blue” – officers from the Peel Region Police Recruiting dept. Yes, I was tempted to sign on but I hardly think they’d want this grumpy old broad patrolling their precinct…LOL20161104_112826CwbcafRWgAAAJYRHave you ever visited the Ste. Anne’s Spa and Bakery? Just a short train ride or drive from Toronto, you can experience relaxation in the country with spa treatments, skin products and now a healthy gluten-free bakery. And if these jovial staff (below) are any indication, it’s a very happy place to visit.  www.steannes.com20161104_113713 20161104_11372120161104_113757Nice to see Veronica of www.iloveisola.com jewelry at the show – her handcrafted bracelets and necklaces use semi-precious stones and each has an energy or healing component.20161104_113836(0)Unikati & Co. offers handcrafted toys, bags, jewellery and all sorts of lovely things, all made by people in areas of conflict, war survivors, rural families, hunger project workers…every piece has a story to tell from around the world. www.unikati.ca20161104_114010 20161104_114023 20161104_114125The lovely ladies of Lazizza explained their ultimate shapewear collection (move over, Spanx, these Canuck girls have got you beat!) to me and I may be calling on them soon so I can look fab during all the Christmas celebrations. Check them out yourself: www.lazizzashapewear.com 20161104_115212 20161104_115201 20161104_115408Invocation (below) is a First Nations aromatherapy company offering home fragrance and perfumes made from natural organic or wildcrafted ingredients. The range of fragrances enhance your mood, increase energy or can relax and soothe.  www.invocation.ca 20161104_12224720161104_122241 20161104_122255Here are a few random shots taken around the showroom….20161104_123243 20161104_111832 20161104_113304Here’s something a little different but oh so comfortable, esp. if you’re built like moi! The Breast Rest garment replaces your typical underwire bra (ouch!) and makes hangin’ round the house really comfortable. The cotton lycra Comfort Support System is fully customizable to your body shape and is designed as a solution to the discomforts of the traditional bra. It has pillow-like support and revolutionary design which provides the comfort and support for which you have been yearning.  www.thebreastrest.com20161104_123731 20161104_123734 20161104_123744

As soon as I saw the word “Australia” I knew I had to stop and find out more about the Rodan + Fields Anti-Aging products (below). I spoke with John and Bill (OMG, their faces were as smooth as a baby’s bum) and they kindly gave me a “personal pamper pack” filled with all sorts of potions, lotions, unctions and serums to try at home. The products are beautifully packaged and promise clinically proven skincare and anti-aging results. They are introducing the line to Australia next year so I’m emailing friends and family back home to watch out for it. Check out John and Bill’s website for details: www.holygrailforskin.com20161104_125905 20161104_125911 20161104_125919Now here’s something different – the Divorce Angels is a resource network for those going through the divorce process. Having had several friends go through the trauma of separating their families over the past 20yrs, I know how much they would have appreciated this support. www.thedivorceangels.com  Pictured below left, Marni Sky is co-founder and she also featured a lovely collection of handcrafted empowerment bracelets created by a member of this unique support group.

20161104_131759 20161104_131810As I was leaving, exhausted and hungry (I couldn’t even get near the food sampling booths due to huge crowds), I made one last stop at the Children of Hope Uganda booth. I so wanted the stunning purple and orange handwoven basket pictured below, but I settled for 2 cute pink bead elephant keychains and a pair of handmade bead earrings in the same colour as the basket. www.childrenofhopeuganda.org/shop20161104_132556(0) 20161104_132523 20161104_132534I hope you enjoyed this brief overview of the National Women’s Show – and what a wonderful show it is this year. I spent over 3hrs there and still had more stuff to see, hear, watch. The show runs until Sunday night so hopefully you’ll consider a visit yourself over the weekend.  Located in the South bldg of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, here’s the link to information and tickets: http://www.nationalwomenshow.com/en/toronto/visitor/20161104_124047

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GRAZING MY WAY THRU LAST NIGHT’S 21ST ANNUAL “EAT TO THE BEAT” FUNDRAISER

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the 21st annual Eat to the Beat fundraiser, presented by KitchenAid®, for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) which featured 60 female chefs supporting people living with breast cancer.  Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall became the mecca for urban foodies to experience the best Ontario’s culinary scene has to offer.20161101_192052 20161101_192441 20161101_192621 20161101_193335Eat to the Beat guests have the opportunity to enjoy specially prepared savoury and sweet dishes at 60 stations, along with wine, beer and a selection of non alcoholic beverages set up around Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby. “We are so grateful to our participating chefs, sponsors and supporters who have helped to make Eat to the Beat Toronto’s must-attend culinary event and fundraiser over the years,” says Cathy Park, co-chair, Eat to the Beat20161101_193704 20161101_193439 20161101_192116Started 21 years ago by sisters Lisa and Abby Slater, Eat to the Beat has raised more than $3.9 million since its inception. Funds raised at Eat to the Beat will support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – dedicated to funding relevant and innovative research, supporting and advocating for the breast cancer community, and providing credible, unbiased information to help empower those affected by breast cancer or at increased genetic risk of developing the disease.

“Just like Lisa and Abby, we’re inspired by the strength of breast cancer survivors and those who are affected by this disease,” says Karen Malone, VP, Research & Programs, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, “Thanks to fundraising events like Eat to the Beat, we can continue to offer emotional support and information to anyone affected by breast cancer.”20161101_194217I ran into a number of friends there, including the lovely ladies from Succulent Chocolates (yummmmm), pictured below…20161101_191956…and lots of other talented bakers, chefs and chocolatiers…..20161101_195939 20161101_19211120161101_195643There was also a number of wineries sampling their products and the fellas from Still Waters Distillery offering shots of their new Stalk & Barrel Canadian whisky (just launched in LCBO stores) – pictured below. Mmmmmm, very nice and smooth.20161101_195441 20161101_195453On behalf of all us hungry foodies attending last night, thank you to all the participating chefs and congrats to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) for another successful soiree. For more information, visit www.cbcf.org

Big thank you to my dear PR colleague, Peter Ashworth (with me below) of Ashworth Associates Inc. for granting my media accreditation – my tummy really thanks you….burp!20161101_202703_001

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TORONTO URBAN COLLECTIVE HOSTS POP-UP ARTISAN MARKET

What a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon – I took a stroll through the aisles of the pop-up artisan market hosted by the TORONTO URBAN COLLECTIVE at the Toronto Reference Library, just a few blocks from my home. So many lovely decorative, wearable and edible items presented by the craftspeople who actually made them. I was pleased to show my support by dropping a few dollars myself!  Come meet the vendors with me….20160807_125040I was welcomed by these lovely young ladies (above) who set such a nice friendly tone to the event. Then on to the first stop – the lovely ladies of Little Orbs. Below, here’s craftsperson Erin (R) with her proud mum (L) showing off her home decor and accessories (sparkly wine glass fobs were my faves) www.littleorbs.ca 20160807_120124 20160807_120130Lovely to see Cassandra from Chic Made Consciously with her eco-friendly accessories. I first met Cassandra at the Leslieville Flea a couple of years ago; I’m so proud of her and how she’s built her business. www.chicmc.com20160807_120253I was thrilled to find fashion designer Tulsi MacRae (below) whose fabulous tunics are bright and unique. I may ask her to create a customized one for me for TIFF…. www.tulsimacrae.com20160807_120549 20160807_120554Next was Ashley from Ashes & Kings – fine men’s accessories using beautiful wood slices.  They look stunning and each set of cufflinks or tie-clips are little works of art.  www.ashesandkings.com 20160807_120931 20160807_120941Oh no….not macrame!!! After living with macrame owls throughout the 70’s, I never thought I’d have to look at the popular woven string things again but these pretty home decor pieces by Natalie Ranae are delightful and could bring the trend back to a whole new generation. But please, Natalie, no owls! LOL   www.natalieranae.com20160807_121257 20160807_121300I fell in love with the delicate art of Rachel Dyck of Blossom & Sweet Pea Critter Co. I purchased 3 lovely greeting cards. She had a number of colouring books that were so beautifully printed and her watercolour prints of Canadian wildlife were charming and whimsical – perfect as gifts for any occasion. Look for Rachel @ this year’s Christmas One-of-a-Kind-Show www.thecritterco.com 20160807_121600 20160807_121607 20160807_121610I then spied some adorable wee silver spoons with colourful handles – perfect for serving jam or, in my case, eating my boiled eggs. Alkahf Moroccan Imports had all sorts of exotic treasures including beautiful little mirrors. www.alkahf.ca20160807_122237 20160807_122241 20160807_122253Then I found a brand new local company, www.StrayandWander.com that brings in ethically sourced products from around the world. I really liked the purses and clutches crafted from used native clothing (below). Their website should be up and running by the middle of August but you can find them now on Instagram @strayandwander20160807_122520 20160807_122529 20160807_122543Below is www.stationtoronto.com – groovy jewellery and accessories using the TTC subway station signs as design elements. The vendor was so busy, I didn’t get a chance to find my Yonge and Bloor station ring – I wonder if it’s a secret decoder ring for subway travel secrets?? LOL20160807_122713 20160807_122717I spoke earlier about macrame art from the 70’s….well another crafty hobby back then was nail art but nobody does it like Britt Kasco of Thread & Bark (below L). Oh my, these intricate pieces were so gorgeous, Britt really understands the simple beauty in the threads and I thought her douglas firs (lower picture) were stunning. Great souvenir gifts for friends abroad/great art to own yourself. https://her-earth.com/thread-and-bark/20160807_122854 20160807_122901 20160807_122906Now it was time to head over to the “edible art”….yummmmm. First up is Cuetti Cookies & Cakes. Yes, they’re all square, too.  www.cuetti.cc20160807_123316 20160807_123324Then I stopped in for a quick nibble at Holy Cannoli – OMG, they are sinfully delicious!! They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse – check out my @FordhamPR Instagram to see the naughty but nice videos  www.holy-cannoli.com20160807_123645I found another old friend…the Toronto-based Peruvian bakery, Sol Cookies (below), who I met at the Toronto Bakers Market a couple of weeks ago. The tiny cookies are delicious and come in the cutest packaging with a red llama on top. www.solcookies.ca20160807_124748 20160807_124752Just before departing, I spent some time chatting with Laura from Gooseberry Prints, a charming lady who creates wonderful photographic prints of the cutest wee beasties who are all up for adoption at various Toronto rescue centres. Please support her efforts by buying a card, a pin or a print: www.gooseberryprints.com  I am so in love with all the hedgehog ones I want them all!20160807_124318 20160807_124330 20160807_124408Thank you to all the vendors for welcoming me to your booths and a big thank you to the great event producers, Toronto Urban Collective. Watch for the next pop-up and come out to support local craftspeople.  www.urbancollectiveto.com

PS: When I got home, I just had to try out my new Moroccan spoon….yay, it works!20160807_135817

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Join me for a tasty trip to the TORONTO BAKERS’ MARKET!

If only we had a “taste-o-vision” app where you could actually “taste” the yummy food photographs. Well, I’ll do my best for you here as I take you for a walk around the brand new TORONTO BAKERS’ MARKET held monthly in Leslieville www.torontobakersmarket.com

When I arrived at the market on Queen East just past Broadview at 12 noon, there was a line-up of hungry shoppers all excited to see what deelish treats awaited us inside. The doors were opened and we were welcomed by one of the organizers, Kathleen, so why don’t I let her tell you about it before we head inside….

Now let’s walk thru the doors and see who’s there…20160724_120206First off, I said hello to Katarina of Dolled Up Desserts (above), a local gluten-free and vegan bakery www.dolledupdesserts.com  Lots of dainty dolled-up treats here!
Next to Katarina were the fun ladies of Jammy Dodger, a bakery specializing in “whimsy and yum”. Check out these crazy Benedict Cumberbatcheos (below).  www.jammydodgerbakery.com20160724_120250 20160724_120257Then the next booth was deadly for me…they offered sticky toffee buns. I was proud of myself that I resisted…sort of. I only bought one from the Sugar Rush Bakery (below).  It’s already disappeared, tho, so apologies for not posting a close-up. Trust me it was deeeelicious!  You can follow them on Instagram: @sugarrushto20160724_120309Holy Cannoli was a very popular booth – I kept seeing shoppers walking around the hall with freshly stuffed cannolis courtesy of these cheerful bakers (below). www.holy-cannoli.com 20160724_120410 20160724_120415By this time, most of us needed a quick cuppa coffee to counter the sugar overload and Sparkplug Coffee certainly delivered. In fact, that’s what they do – coffee delivered to your office or home.  www.sparkplugcoffee.com20160724_120428Back to some serious nibbling…. next up, Molly’s the Bar Bakeshop.  Lots of yummy (and healthy!) bars to enjoy.  You can follow them on Instagram at @mollysbars20160724_12052320160724_120539Franny & Co. (below) offered some elegant and very decadent desserts, all gluten free, sugar free, plant-based and with sustainable ingredients. www.frannyandco.com 20160724_120616I was completely charmed by Sol Cookies (below) – a Toronto-based Peruvian bakery that incorporates some exciting “secret” ingredients (eg. anise) that really elevate them to a whole other level. Here are some tiny sample cookies – they have a soft shortbread quality to them with a special filling. Definitely recommend checking this company out. www.solcookies.ca20160724_120713 20160724_120720More cheery bakers welcomed me to the Fancy AF Small Batch Cookery booth with their cookies and fresh biscottis. You can follow them on Instagram  @fancyafcookery  Don’t you just love their fancy pinnies (pinafores)?20160724_120756 20160724_120814Rosie B Baked Treats (below) was a very popular booth; her home-baked fruit pies were fantastic! Couldn’t get close to her for a quick chat, thanks to all the crowds. Follow her @eugeniarb20160724_120829Lovely to see my Yorkville neighbour, the Dessert Lady who brought along her staff to help serve samples to the market visitors (below). So many yummy treats including custom cakes and Moon Pies (Sheldon Cooper’s fave dessert – for all you Big Bang Theory fans)  www.dessertlady.ca20160724_120836 20160724_12090620160724_120914Dollop Bakery offered delightful tiny treats (below) – they specialize in miniature, bite sized desserts ideal for parties, wedding favours or kiddies.  www.dollopbakery.com20160724_121011Local  chocolatier M.Thompson Chocolates served up their milk and dark chocolate boxes (below) – good job the A/C was working full blast – no melting, no worries! www.mthompsonchocolates.com20160724_121045Next I dropped in to say hi to Keiko, one of the organizers of the Toronto Bakers’ Market. Like all the vendors today, she had a big happy smile on her face. Everyone in the hall seemed to be smiling which made shopping all the more enjoyable. 20160724_121123Oh yummm…here’s Monkey Butter, the gourmet peanut butter company and oh what fab packaging! You gotta visit next month and try a mouthful of this…..it was eye-rolling to heaven time! www.monkeybutterpb.com20160724_121153 20160724_121205Clarke’s Bread is simply awesome! After one little sample, I bought a loaf of crunchy fresh sourdough (below). OMG, as soon as I got home, out came the breadknife and I enjoyed a couple of thick slices with some scrambled eggs. Yumm. Follow them on Instagram: @clarkesbread20160724_121237Just look at that elegant tiered cake by Tiffany Hoo Fatt! She also brought some easier to carry delights from her Tiered Cake Boutique such as cupcakes and cookies. Follow her on Instagram: @tieredcakeboutique20160724_121313 20160724_121322Oh! Cocoa Balls hand-crafts their all-natural energy bites that are gluten, grain & dairy free with no refined sugar. And they taste great, too. www.cocoaballs.com Perfect for those of us needing to cut out all the bad stuff while enjoying the naughty stuff…LOL20160724_121405 20160724_121410I just love these ladies at Desiree Cakes & Baked Treats.  It was the cute as a button Peter Rabbit cake (will somebody please buy me this cake for MY birthday?!) featured in my title photo (up top) that stopped me in my tracks…then I explored their table further and discovered so many delectable treats, all daintily displayed.  You can follow Desiree (pictured below L) on Instagram: @desireebakes  20160724_121536 20160724_121552Here’s balabusta – lots of fabulous sweet & savory breads and other treats handcrafted in Tal Prashkovsky’s own kitchen. Another busy busy booth where I couldn’t chat with the in-demand baker. Follow her on Instagram: @balabusta_by_tal20160724_121604 20160724_121640Meet Karen & Laura from Honeydew Creations (below). So many cookies to choose from, so little space left in my tummy! Lovely packaging and delicious flavours – pick your own from here: www.honeydewcreations.com 20160724_121649 20160724_121653 20160724_121700Well, by now I was starting to get a wee bit tired but like a real trooper, I kept on going and I made it to the next booth, Baking in the 6ix. (below) More super deelish sweet treats including pretty in pink cupcakes and iced donuts. They’re on Instagram at:  @bakinginthe6ix20160724_121736Whew, I made it to the Klusters booth…gourmet nuts, seeds, fruit & kale trail mixes. Aaaah, that should get me thru to the end of this foodie trail! Founder Michelle Spring is a holistic baker and nutritionist – guess I should have asked her about my own diet which was definitely challenged today! www.arealhandful.com 20160724_12180920160724_121817 20160724_121822The Blue Eyed Baker certainly added a little eye-candy to the market (ladies, any man who bakes this good is a treasure, blue-eyed or not). Let’s all go Friend him on Fcbk!  www.facebook.com/theblueeyedbaker200820160724_121848 20160724_121858Chocolate chocolate chocolate….THIS is my kryptonite!  Mary’s Brigadeiro are fine Brazilian chocolate truffle-like treats that are a “party in your mouth”.  You MUST try these – simply heavenly. Check out www.marysbsweets.com for more info and hopefully Mary will be back at the next Toronto Bakers’ Market – you’ll have to stand behind me as I will be first in line then!20160724_12261520160724_12261020160724_120146So a big CONGRATULATIONS to sisters Kathleen & Gillian Gook, Jayne Ambler and Keiko Flower who organized this fabulous new local foodie market. I look forward to the next one, August 21 at the Ralph Thornton Centre, 765 Queen East (just a few blocks past Broadview). See you there, folks! www.torontobakersmarket.com

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pool

TSE INTRODUCES MUZIK EVENT CENTRE’S INTERIOR RENO’S & POOLS WITH SEXY NETWORKING SOIREE

The folks at Toronto Special Events were kind enough to invite me to the industry networking event over at MUZIK ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE in Exhibition Grounds to unveil their multi-million dollar renovations, pool installations and their oh so delicious catering thanks to the tasty Food Dudes.20160608_17223620160608_174623 Accompanying me was hairstylist to the stars (and me!) Cathie D of “Cut, Do or Dye” in-home hair services and being kinda silly when we socialize, we spent a great deal of time playing with the Boomerang app on my phone posting silly videos on Instagram. How old am I? LOL20160608_173358The cavernous interior of Muzik was made very intimate and cosy thanks to some great drapery and huge table displays in the various seating areas (below)….20160608_173534…and the food service was non-stop, both pass around and buffet style. This lovely young lady (below) kept Cathie and me well-fed all night!20160608_192009 20160608_17461120160608_18273320160608_175816(0)20160608_172224DJ Tay James spun hot tunes all evening although they stuck him in the dark surrounded by giant potted palms. Trust me, he was cute! And he’s Justin Bieber’s official tour DJ. Wonder if he does weddings & bar mitzvahs, too?20160608_173856We were also treated to lots of lovely cocktails – I played it safe with my usual G&Ts (gin and tonic, for those non-Brits reading this). Think I was on my 3rd round when Cathie snapped this somewhat demented pic…20160608_17341720160608_173327I was thrilled to run into old friend Omar Leslie (below R), a charming young man who was one of my earliest blogging inspirations. He attended with friend Paul (L) who works in Special Events/PR industry.20160608_193217(0)Out back of the giant showroom (formerly the Horticultural Bldg at the CNE)  is a series of glamorous terraces and patios including turquoise pools for swimming, paddling or whatever people do in public in pools…oh my!!!!20160608_194602 20160608_194430 20160608_194530Also scattered around the Muzik terraces are a number of statues (above) that are part of Toronto’s public arts programme.
Back inside, we watched some great promo videos on the giant screens , then Cathie decided I needed “one more for the road” and hit up the bar for another G&T.20160608_18072420160608_180713Big thanks to everyone at Muzik, especially Amy Tomes who gave me the best directions and parking info earlier. Check out the website for their weekly entertainment and corporate events info. www.muzikclubs.com20160608_173356_001

A redhead and a blonde walk into a bar…..(add your own punchline here!)