Category Archives: Food

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COMEDIAN GLEN FOSTER ENJOYS INDIAN-STYLE FEAST @ TORONTO’S LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR

Comedian Glen Foster and I go way back…waaaaaay back to when Yuk Yuk’s ruled the Toronto entertainment scene and Canada was enjoying it’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in the 1980’s. Over the years, Glen (pictured below) has performed at comedy festivals, had his own TV specials, headlined shows in the biggest clubs around the country and has made thousands of people laugh, especially as “That Canadian Guy”, a personae perfected and showcased on stage and on the air.Head_shot_0089Now co-host of the hilarious “Hump Dump Live” radio show on Funny820-AM (Wednesdays noon to 1pm) along with fellow comedian and writer Lawrence Morgenstern, Glen recently joined me for lunch at Leela Indian Food Bar in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood – Leela is one of the radio show’s advertisers so why not see/taste what everyone has been talking about: deelish authentic Indian cuisine served in a modest yet hipster-friendly environment located at 3108 Dundas St West.

Providing the perfect balance of quality, taste and presentation of dhaba-style Indian food, Leela’s takes you on a journey through the old streets of India’s big cities and small villages where the aroma of spices welcomes you and the mouthwatering flavors keep you engaged with the authentic Indian preparations as well as innovative Indo-Canadian cuisine.  A bit of a mouthful description but Glen easily polished off  kale & spinach pakoras, vegetarian samosas, butter chicken and lamb biryani….

…but did leave enough to take home to share with his family for dinner!20180621_134749Leela has comfortable seating (pictured below) and an extensive menu offering vegetarian and Gluten-free choices, with prompt home delivery service, too. Easy access for those with strollers or wheelchairs (washrooms, too)20180409_14161620180409_141721You can learn more about Glen and Lawrence via their show website http://www.humpdumplive.com/ and watch for Glen performing live at Toronto’s leading comedy clubs.0110And if you’d like to taste the scrumptious dishes that Leela serves (and customizes for your preferred level of “heat” and spice) check out their online menu at www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca or just drop in to the restaurant at 3108 Dundas St West (just W of Quebec Ave) 7 days a week.dishes 15777

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LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR SPICES UP TORONTO’S JUNCTION!

Don’t know ’bout you but I looove good authentic Indian food and I’ve finally found a great little restaurant that serves it up in a beautifully designed environment far from the trinkety, bedazzled elephant decor dining room we’ve come to expect from local Indo-Canadian food spots. Welcome to LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR located at 3108 Dundas St West (just past Quebec Ave) a calm oasis in the busy Junction strip of cool boutique resto-lounges and boites, serving the most authentic “dhaba” or street food this side of the Bay of Bengal!20180409_141640_001The charming and well-informed staff are happy to recommend menu selections and stand behind their dishes, each of which is made fresh for each diner. On my first visit, I thoroughly enjoyed the recommended roasted cauliflower chaat tossed with chutney, yoghurt and fresh cilantro (pictured below). Mmmmmmm, deelish!20180406_202743…which was followed by the butter chicken. OMG, so yummy, and the rice was light and fluffy, not gluey or over-cooked like many other places serve.20180406_205827I recently spoke with owner, Hormazd Daver, and asked him to share his thoughts on Indian food and his delightful restaurant:

What inspired you to open Leela Indian Food Bar?  I always wanted to open my own restaurant; it’s been a passion for while to have somewhere that I can put my own ideas and efforts into practice and cater authentic Indian cuisine to hungry Toronto foodies.

Did you have previous experience in the food/hospitality industry and if so, where? My previous experience was working as a flight crew member for Cathay Pacific airlines which gave me the opportunity to interact with people of different nationalities and share their experiences about the food and international cuisines available in Toronto.

You have family members working with you – who are they and what duties do they undertake to help make the restaurant such a success?  I have my sister working with me, along with my brother-in-law, which make us a complete family team. This helps a lot as my sister works on weekends both in a service and administrative capacity. My brother-in-law is responsible for managing the restaurant on a daily basis from ordering supplies to managing the staff and all other duties required to successfully operate the restaurant.

What are your most popular dishes?  According to reviews posted by our customers, the Lasooni Cauliflower (stir-fried cauliflower with our chef’s special spices & sesame seeds) is very popular along with my favourite Shrimp Malai Curry which is tasty and very light. Also popular is our Butter Chicken which is not overly “sweet”, unlike what you might find in many other Toronto Indian restaurants. As far as vegetarian dishes, we find the most popular is the Sweet & Sour Eggplant with curry leaf and mustard seeds – by the way, we have many vegetarian options for diners to choose.

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One thing that really impressed me while sitting and inhaling my yummy meal was the humble decor and accessories – I love the blue carved ceramic serving platters on each table as well as the copper water jugs full of chilled fresh H2O – apparently the copper infuses valuable minerals into the drinking water so it’s extra good for us to imbibe.20180409_141631 20180406_21441020180409_141655The open kitchen (below) makes for a friendly casual atmosphere and you can watch your meals being prepared fresh by the skilled cooks.20180406_202657Leela Indian Food Bar also has a busy home delivery service and you can order via their website: www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca  If you’d like to reserve a table (suggested for groups of 6 or more), you can also do that via the website (upper r.h. corner)

A few more personal recommendations include the incredibly over-stuffed veggie samosas…20180428_193453…the oh-so-delicious kale & spinach pakoras(below) – I’ve never tasted pakoras like these and not an once of grease to be found!20180420_194052And you just gotta end your meal with their fresh, sweet Gulab Jamun dessert (spongy honey balls).20180428_200254So take it from me, a hard-boiled, curry-lovin’, naan gulping Indian food fanatic – Leela Indian Food Bar is THE place to take your friends, families or sweetie…and it’s very affordable, too!

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 www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca
3108 Dundas St West, Toronto – T: 416-769-7777

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Congratulations on 1st anniversary to Isaan Der Thai restaurant in Toronto

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of joining owners Donald Drouin and Chef Ko as they celebrated their 1st anniversary of serving authentic north-eastern Thai cuisine to diners in The Junction neighbourhood as well as across the city. ISAAN DER is a cozy restaurant located along the Dundas Street W stretch known as restaurant mile and over the past twelve months, they’ve earned many loyal foodie fans who dine-in or order online for personal pick-up or via 3 of the city’s leading delivery services.  www.isaander.comstorefront20171101_145157Attending the auspicious occasion were local City Councillor Sarah Doucette and her aide Catherine (below centre), online influencer Vernon Chang a.k.a. MoVernie (3rd from L), and local food producers/entrepreneurs Sandra and Carlos Dasilva from No.7 Hot Sauce (at left)who were on hand to raise a glass of cheer with Donald, Chef Ko and their staff.20180313_181638Regular diners were also treated to celebratory mimosas and some fruity treats…20180313_171817MoVernie interviewed Donald & Chef Ko for his blog and social media, then took some great close-up photos of his meal…20180313_174445 20180313_191226To celebrate this special milestone, Isaan Der is actually giving gifts to their customers – complimentary $20 gift cards (while supplies last) when diners spend $50 or more (before tax, tips or alcohol) for in-house dining or online personal pick-up orders, so make sure you visit or order your pick-up meals between March 13 – 18 to take advantage of this great reward.20171126_164001(0)So here’s to another year’s success and even more deelish Thai feasts with friends and family!20180313_164131

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Foodora photo shoot @ Isaan Der, Toronto’s coolest Thai restaurant

Yesterday, the lovely folks from Foodora.ca home delivery service dropped into ISAAN DER Thai Restaurant in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood, to take photos of the exquisite dishes available for delivery (or personal pick-up) via their website. Here, photographer Melissa sets up her shots….20171101_141613 20171101_143524Foodora account manager, Dana, was on hand to help direct the shoot and talk with owners Donald and Chef Ko about the fabulous menu now available to a wider online customer base. Just take a look at these dishes – you could almost eat the photos, yes?20171101_145157 20171101_151249 20171101_151944 20171101_151938Online foodie influencer Cindy of @wakeupeatthis (below) also dropped in to cover the shoot, after which we all feasted on this magnificent spread…burp!20171101_150229(0)

Click here if you’d like to order online via Foodora:  https://www.foodora.ca/restaurant/s4jx/isaan-der-thai-food

And to visit the restaurant in person, Isaan Der is located at 2961 Dundas St West (between Pacific & Keele), Toronto.  www.isaander.comlogo

 

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A Thai feast fit for a King….and I!

So apart from the bad grammar (s.b. “and me”) the headline here really does tell the story of Toronto’s small but mighty ISAAN DER Thai restaurant and its equally small but mighty queen of the kitchen, Chef Ko (pictured below).Chef Ko 2I was recently turned on to this snug and beautifully decorated dining establishment located in the heart of Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood by fellow foodies and owners of No. 7 Hot Sauce, Carlos and Sandra, who told me about the incredible food and lovely people who run Isaan Der. Chef Ko, along with her Canadian husband Donald, run the place like clockwork, juggling take-out and home delivery orders with quiet aplomb as they and their servers offer personal but discreet table-side service to their guests, many of whom are neighbours and regular/repeat diners.20171018_183950Attention to detail is key at Isaan Der – just look at these cute elephant hooks for coats or purses located behind every table for diners’ convenience.20170829_184227I recently spoke with Donald and Chef Ko about their journey from Thailand to Toronto and the fabulous food they serve to hungry fans Tuesdays thru Sundays.

Chef Ko, what first inspired you to become a professional chef?  Having had the opportunity to travel around Thailand as a journalist for Channel 7 news, I have discovered that it’s not all Pad Thai and Tom Yum Goong. There are lots of delicious dishes from every part of Thailand. 20170525_121454Did you study under any well-known chef or in a professional kitchen?  I studied at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is also a 5-star hotel in Bangkok, in their Professional Thai Chef program as well as at Kasesart University to learn about the origins of some of our well known dishes.

You specialize in traditional fine Thai cuisine at Isaan Der– how important is it that you use fresh, locally sourced ingredients for your menu?  We only use the freshest of ingredients for our food and every dish is made à la carte, meaning every dish you order is made specifically for you. We do NOT have anything pre-made so dishes might take a few minutes longer getting to your table….but the wait is worth it!sataysDonald, since opening Isaan Der in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood in March , how have you seen your customer base grow?  Since opening, we’ve seen tremendous growth; from 3 people in the kitchen to now more than 8 dealing with the volume which we handle with great care and efficiency. It’s our loyal customers with whom we have had table-side conversations, educating them on the many differences in Thai food. We are certainly no better than any other Thai restaurant, but we do know that we are ‘different’.IMG_20170321_030403_608received_159738710362409620170320_20050620170320_200409Donald, any exciting news about menu or service you’d like to share?  Here we grow!  We recently changed our menus adding several new items to replace those we have “retired” for now. We cater to everyone with dietary restrictions such as celiac, vegan, food allergies as well as likes/dislikes. We can do it all as our dishes are made for you…any way you like it!

We’ve seen a tremendous increase in our Doordash delivery as well as personal take-out with our online ordering. Thanks to our brand new ordering app (for both iPhone & android) we’re able to streamline the dining experience for those dining at home. Easy-peasy with a simple click, click and done! We no longer take phone orders so we’re able to focus on personal table-side service in the restaurant.  But if people have questions about our menu we are certainly available via phone queries. See below the special promotion for 1st time app orders:July 2017454

Isaan Der is definitely one of my favourite Toronto restaurants and I’m especially fond of their Shrimp Roll appetizer – I frequently construct a meal by combining 2 orders of those with a salad. I love the little noodle ribbons and bows tying them up (see below). The handcrafted chili dipping sauce is super deelish, too.20170829_180825You MUST try the Golden Bags and Spring Rolls (below)….
17155630_1495954417121699_3390928405222378590_n 20170525_110821And each Wednesday is “Wine Wednesday” with $3 off your glass of featured wine…..20171018_184058…followed by “Beer Thursdays” when your favourite brew is only $5!20171018_184024Located at 2961 Dundas West (a few blocks W of Keele) there’s lots of parking (on street and in the green P lot behind) and prompt bus transit (take the #40 from Dundas W subway stn). Check out their menu, hours of operation and directions here: www.isaander.comlogo

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JOIN ME AS I “EAT TO THE BEAT” – attending annual fundraiser to raise breast cancer awareness

Each year, I’m honoured to accept the invitation to cover EAT TO THE BEAT issued by friend and PR colleague Peter Ashworth of Ashworth Associates Inc. and last night, I enjoyed all sorts of edible treats and drinks courtesy of 60 of Toronto’s leading female chefs. Raising awareness for breast cancer support with the Canadian Cancer Society as well as the $s is the focus of this annual event held at Roy Thomson Hall, and this band of happy volunteers greeted us at the front door, all dressed up to put smiles on our faces (below).20171017_190601

20171017_190633Thanks to KitchenAid who came on board as a sponsor this year – they donated so many wonderful kitchen gadgets for the silent auction (below)…who knows, this non-cook might just win a closing bid (am waiting for a phone call as I type!)20171017_193922(0)So instead of me prattling on with text about the show, I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. Be prepared for some major mouth-watering reading, and be sure to visit the restaurants of those chefs who donated their time and food to Eat to the Beat – I’ve listed them all at the bottom of the blog.20171017_19093720171017_19101520171017_191024I always look fwd to finding the lovely ladies of Succulent Chocolates – below – they always have such fab sweet treats!20171017_190837 20171017_201559

20171017_191231 20171017_191414 20171017_19144020171017_19153320171017_19164420171017_19173720171017_19222720171017_192703 20171017_192245 20171017_194401I really liked this locally-produced Scotch (below)…mmmm, good!20171017_203025Below – Pumpkin soup anyone? So deelish!20171017_200103I love me some savories! Although there were lots of sweeties, I headed straight for the meat and seafood!!20171017_19265620171017_19275320171017_19510820171017_195203The crowd moved thru Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby in an orderly fashion, although some tables offered samples that just drew ’em in in droves…20171017_202425….like these awesome and spooky Halloween mini-cupcakes from Lolli Cakes.20171017_202028 20171017_202055So many tastes and sights to take in….it was sensory overload!!20171017_195558 20171017_192703 20171017_19365320171017_19492920171017_19534320171017_195405(0) 20171017_201937 20171017_194043Then all of a sudden, it was over – another successful event done and dusted!20171017_201824Congratulations to event organizers and their amazing team of volunteers, and especially to the participating chefs and restaurants (see below). Bravo, everybody!!July 2017456

 

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MY LATEST VISIT TO PORT HOPE ENDS WITH A TRANSFORMER AND T-REX! HUH?

I took my friend, artist Nancy Bennett, to Port Hope (my “spiritual home”) today where I introduced her to my fave cafe & bakery, bling store, boutiques and flower shop, ending with a quick visit to Primitive Designs on the outskirts of town where giant metal dinosaurs roam and a huge Transformer greets visitors. So come along for a virtual visit with us…… 20170713_112639Driving into Port Hope, we made straight for the Ganaraska River (above) that rushed through the genteel little town where fat lazy Canada Geese waddled and wobbled leaving a rather unsightly trail of poo…oops, watch where you’re walking Nancy.20170713_11241320170713_112406Our first port of call, as always, was Queenie’s Bake Shop where today we enjoyed coffee, tea and sticky buns, courtesy of chef/owner Adam and his charming server (below)20170713_115627 20170713_112915…then once we’d polished off all that, we popped next door to visit the super fabulous Kenneth Bell in his jewellery & accessories store. Kenneth supplies hundreds of boutiques across the country with their bling and baubles. He was already busy entertaining two other lovely ladies, Helene (below L) and Nancee (below R).20170713_113746What a warm welcome….and it just so happened that he was starting a 50-80% off sale so talk about perfect timing! Nancy and I dove right in and found some lovely sparklies…  www.kennethbell.com20170713_120538 20170713_120952Nancy found a great pair of sunglasses for her daughter on the rack of shades (below)…20170713_120958 20170713_121014And I loved these stylish silk embroidered clutch purses (below) from the Far East with tiny tassels and charms.20170713_120947Bidding adieu to Ken, we then headed up Walton St to a relatively new boutique called Turquoise where we found multiple pretty pieces that would look good in our closets!  www.Facebook.com/TurquoiseBoutiques20170713_123030 20170713_122943 20170713_122845Then into Flourish, another new shop…. www.flourishfashions.com20170713_124414….and Nancy’s eye was caught by a beautiful green lightweight top, perfect for wearing over a camisole or tank top. What do you think…should she buy it?20170713_123400Well, she did! A perfect top for an upcoming art expo where she knows she’ll get a tad chilly in her booth. Big thanks for her warm hospitality to owner Julie Pandoff (below) and congrats on such a lovely boutique. I then spied the sock rack…wow, these are too cool!20170713_124126 20170713_124215…and I loved these two tunics (below) that could hide a multitude of my caloric sins…LOL!20170713_124357Past the flower shop, we trekked further up Walton St where I discovered yet another fab new store…20170713_124436 20170713_124446….Dwellissimo, a beautifully presented vintage furniture store that was a treasure trove of mid-century modern. Oh my, I was in heaven!   www.dwellissimo.com20170713_124903_001 20170713_124827 20170713_124922 20170713_125139I really really really want this red horse lamp. Hey, Santa, make note of this one, okay? You never brought me that pony I asked for when I was 6 so now’s the time to make up for that glaring omission.

As we wound down our Port Hope walkabout, Nancy and I popped into the Art Gallery of Northumberland shop on Queen St, and found these beautifully crafted works of art….20170713_131201 20170713_131207 20170713_131215 20170713_131336We enjoyed a quick late lunch at Jim’s Pizza but we were both too hungry to even think about a photo so we just gobbled it all up. But we both recommend Jim’s for a great Italian nosh! www.jimsporthope.ca

In between rain showers, we made it down to the lakefront beach…er, where’s the beach? Due to high water levels, the beach, the kid’s playground and picnic area were all complete submerged. Yikes!

One last drive thru town….20170713_131704….then off to visit Primitive Designs, a very strange, wonderful and fantastic series of barns, tents and outbuildings devoted to exotic imports. Located a little N.E. of town, you cannot miss this place – you’re greeted by a Transformer and a herd of huge metallic dinosaurs – yep, talk about eye-catching.20170713_151850 20170713_151655 20170713_151725Thank goodness this happy little Buddha watched over us as we left the car park…I was gettin’ scared!20170713_151810You gotta go visit in person to truly appreciate the weird, wild, wackiness of this place.  www.primitivedesignscanada.com

So there we are, another trip to Port Hope done and dusted! If you would like to learn more about this friendly small town that offers big entertainment, sports, shopping and dining, you can visit their tourism office for more information and directions:  www.visitporthope.ca  and tell them Glenda sent you!

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URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS ANOTHER GREAT MENU FOR INSIDE OUT FILM FEST PARTY-GOERS

As the annual Inside Out LGBT Film Festival winds down, the parties are still going strong and last night, URBAN SOURCE CATERING made sure everyone was well-fed at the “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall Pink Carpet” soiree held at the Artscape Sandbox venue in downtown Toronto.  There were lots of tasty Moroccan beef sirloin hors d’oeuvres (above), veggie samosas and smoked salmon on wild rice cakes(below) …..20170602_185208 20170602_19052720170602_191810 20170602_191215…and Jerk Prawns and Chicken Rendang skewers (above), all of which were gobbled up by appreciative guests.  The deelish gourmet mac-n-cheese (below)were a big hit with the guests.20170602_191206…and the guests had fun at the wacky photo booth – wonder what digital background was being added..hmmm?20170602_190135Meet our Executive Chef Lyndon Wiebe (below L) with his trusty kitchen staff who kept the food coming!20170602_192724I also had fun over at the bar where I found these upside down glasses reflecting all the colours of the event space lights and people’s outfits.20170602_190315If you would like to have your party or corporate event catered by Urban Source Catering, please visit their website for menu ideas:  www.urbancatering.comUS-LOGO

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URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS THE YUM @ INSIDE OUT FILM FEST GALA EVENT

Last night (Tues. May 30), my culinary friends at URBAN SOURCE CREATIVE CATERING tickled the tastebuds of some 150 guests at the Inside Out/Toronto LGBT Film Festival Centrepiece Gala Reception presented at the Artscape Sandbox in downtown Toronto. And oh boy, did they ever deliver some delicious treats ….20170530_183845 20170530_183837 20170530_183849The cheerful and efficient Inside Out volunteer waiters were barely out of the kitchen door before guests reached out for the trays of hors d’oeuvres…and yes, the wild blue and pink lighting created some pretty funky effects!20170530_184045 20170530_18510820170530_190950(0) 20170530_184932…so I ambushed the serving crew as they exited the kitchen to get more “normal” lighting…LOL!20170530_194842 20170530_192542 20170530_192556The shrimp were a big hit, especially with this excited guest (below)20170530_185133 20170530_185248The fabulous well-stocked bar was provided by Stud Vodka and Inside Out, offering wine, beer and smart cocktails served by bartenders who were always on the lookout for thirsty party-goers….20170530_184147Lots of fun, food and photo opps for all….20170530_191904 20170530_185138 20170530_19321720170530_184034Wayne from Urban Catering posed at the photo wall with colleague Cybele (below) in between schmoozing with guests and Festival organizers …..20170530_185434Inside Out/Toronto LGBT Film Festival runs to June 4th in downtown Toronto and you can learn more about the films, filmmakers and social activities at www.insideout.ca 20170530_194343Congratulations on a job well done, Urban Source Catering…your food and kitchen staff were terrific. For more details on Urban’s menus and special events catering, please visit: www.urbancatering.com 

All gone….no more….go home!

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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