Tag Archives: wine

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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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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