Tag Archives: foodies

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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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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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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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URBAN SOURCE CATERING DELIVERS ANOTHER DELICIOUS MENU FOR INSIDEOUT FILM FEST-GOERS

Hosted at the exciting new venue, Artscape/Sandbox on Adelaide St West in downtown Toronto, URBAN SOURCE CATERING tickled guests’ tastebuds Tuesday night with another round of delicious hors d’oeuvres during the InsideOut Film Festival Centrepoint Reception.  As sponsor for many of the Festival’s swanky soirees, Urban Source Catering has created several different menus and here are just a few of the platters enjoyed by the guests on this night.

Filet of Beef Tenderloin

Filet of Beef Tenderloin

Shrimp Ceviche Spoons

Shrimp Ceviche Spoons

Prosciutto Parmesan Palmiers

Prosciutto Parmesan Palmiers

Vietnamese Rice Wraps

Vietnamese Rice Wraps

The fabulous and talented DJ Cozmic Cat (below) entertained the crowd of film industry insiders, media and sponsors…. www.djcozmic.com20160531_184423

And the guests certainly weren’t shy when it came to corralling the cater waiters with their trays of treats…20160531_190935 20160531_185621 20160531_190847

Several Urban staff members were able to grab some time in front of the green-screen photo booth presented by www.PhotoBot.ca  What a hoot! Here’s how the magic works: Cybèle and Wayne stand in front of the green screen, strike a pose, then click!20160531_191233… and now taa-daa, they’re in front of Priscilla Queen of the Desert!20160531191236381-SChef Lyndon (below L) got into the act with two of his staff….20160531_191804 20160531191759638-SNeedless to say, I got a bit loopy and “walked like an Egyptian”, too!20160531185308974-SRepresentatives from several Festival sponsors were there, including Accenture20160531_190628And here Urban’s Wayne and Cybèle showing off their best “Vanna” skills at the event w sign…20160531_190550(0)

Congratulations to all at Inside Out Film Festival for hosting another successful gathering, and to the staff at Urban Source Catering who continue to impress with their innovative selections, superb service and great humour!

www.urbancatering.com

www.insideout.ca

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“EVENING @ THE MARKET” RAISES FUNDS & AWARENESS FOR FOOD SHARE

Last night, I over-indulged in some of Toronto’s yummiest food and beverages, thanks to a last-minute invitation from KJ Mullins, publisher of www.newz4u.net. The event was Evening at the Market (hosted at the St. Lawrence Market) to benefit Food Share (foodshare.net) a non-profit organization that works with communities and schools here in Toronto to deliver healthy food and food education.

All the market vendors shared samples of their products with the crowds of eager foodies and I was thrilled to sample my favourite peameal bacon sandwiches from Paddington’s and Portuguese custard tarts from another fave store (lower 2 pics)20151112_185258 20151112_185318(0) 20151112_185615 20151112_185427

20151112_185448I always visit Peter’s Natural Health Foods (below) to buy my raw redskin peanuts – the only place in town I can find them.20151112_185842 20151112_185852I enjoyed meeting the folks at Urban Fresh Produce, a brand new store in the Market. OMG, their samples were soooo deelish.20151112_190137 20151112_190233 20151112_190237And the salmon hors d’oeuvres across the aisle were tasty, too.20151112_190328So many fabulous treats, thank goodness I wore my stretchy pants…LOL!20151112_192100 20151112_193314KJ and I found the ladies from Baci chocolates and spent a very long time taste-testing!!20151112_194725 20151112_194729…followed by a nice shot of espresso, which meant I was up watching TV infomercials late into the wee small hours…yaaaawn!20151112_194935KJ just had to have one more dessert so we visited the lovely lady downstairs with the yummy macaroons. 20151112_195903

20151112_195941Stonemill Bakehouse (below) offered so many different pastry and bread samples, it was hard to choose…20151112_195144Earlier in the evening, it was easy to belly up to the oyster bar at Seafront Fish Market (below), but by the time we left (around 9:30pm), the aisles were jam packed and I couldn’t even back up enough to take a picture. Glad I snapped this one before the hordes of foodies arrived!20151112_190400Thanks to the folks at the St. Lawrence Market for a fantastic event, and to all the friendly volunteers from Food Share who managed the soiree with elegant aplomb!20151112_202157

 

2014 Anne Yarymowich, George Brown College Chef School

TORONTO’S CULINARY “EAT TO THE BEAT” FUNDRAISER CELEBRATES 20 YEARS

Thanks to my friend & colleague Peter Ashworth of Ashworth Associates Public Relations, I’d like to share information about this year’s annual EAT TO THE BEAT fundraising event later this month.

Sixty top female chefs lend their support to make the 20th Anniversary of Willow’s Eat to the Beat an evening not to be missed.  The event takes place Tuesday, October 27, 2015 @ 7 pm at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe Street, Toronto) and benefits Willow Breast & Hereditary Support, a not-for-profit organization that offers free peer support to anyone coping with breast cancer. Tickets are $175 (with a tax receipt) and include all food and beverages.  For tickets or to see the line-up of chefs to date as well as beverage participants, please visit www.eattothebeat.ca or call 416.778.6314 x 236.

catering 3“Willow’s role in a person’s journey with breast cancer and other hereditary forms of cancer is undeniably important in making sure caring and compassionate support and valuable information is there when they need it most,” states Karen Malone, Executive Director of Willow Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support.  “Proceeds raised from Eat to the Beat go directly to our programs and services that Willow offers which are vital in ensuring that women and their families are supported throughout every stage of the individual’s diagnosis and treatment.”

Guests will have access to 60 female chefs who are donating their time and talent for the event and will tantalize guests by personally preparing their delectable specialties on-site.  Mouthwatering sweet and savory delicacies, premium beers, wines and spirits will prove irresistible temptations for Toronto’s foodies and Willow supporters and will be set up around Roy Thomson Hall’s outer lobby. catering 5 “Celebrating 20 years is a significant milestone in the history of Eat to the Beat and 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 Barbara Track, Eat to the Beat Co-Chair.  catering 4 catering catering 6“Our participating chefs, many of whom have been with us from our early days, are planning exquisite culinary treats to commemorate our 20th anniversary of women helping women in support of Willow,” adds Cathy Park, who is co-chairing Eat to the Beat.

Started 20 years ago by Lisa and Abby Slater, Eat to the Beat has raised more than $3.7 million for Willow. In keeping with tradition and adding a bit of sass with class, the event will also feature breast cancer survivors modelling original food-inspired corsets that they have created.

Again, for tickets & information on all the generous talented chefs, please visit  www.eattothebeat.cacatering 2