At the crack of noon on Saturday, countless food enthusiasts lined up to buy fistfuls of tasting tickets for Luminato‘s one and only food event, 1000 Tastes of Toronto. Eastbound lanes of Queens Quay between Lower Simcoe and Rees were closed to accommodate the forty-some vendor booths, stretching down the street in front of the beautiful new Simcoe Wavedeck. Some of the city’s best-known and respected chefs were there, chatting with patrons and serving up street-friendly versions of their signature dishes. Torontoist was fortunate to sneak in a bit early and partake in this whirlwind tasting tour of Toronto.
“Locally grown” and “sustainable” were on the lips of nearly every chef and caterer we spoke with. Loïc Gourmet, a new gourmet takeout joint owned by chef David Kokai and wife Kathleen Finlay, offered a “no tuna” canape made with sustainable fish—perch, pickerel, trout, King Clip—instead of tuna. They also went one step further and served their wares on compostable sugarcane-based plates with spoons made from potato starch.
New restaurateurs Fabio Bondi and Michael Sangregorio are so devoted to locally grown and sustainable food that they named their new, yet-to-be-opened Queen West restaurant “Local Kitchen and Winebar“. The pair were offering homemade gnocchi with a side of cotton candy, inspired by Cirque du Soleil, who were supposed to perform along the street during the day, but strangely never did show up.
An eerily familiar young man deftly explaining the intricacies of Susur’s signature nineteen-ingredient Singapore slaw at the Madeline’s/Lee booth, turned out to be Lee’s middle son, Kai Bent-Lee. Kai told us that he usually spends Saturday mornings making and serving the slaw at the Brick Works Farmers’ Market, so all is not lost if you missed him at Luminato.
The event wasn’t publicized particularly well, so we didn’t know why it was called “1000 Tastes of Toronto” until we saw the one thousand white plates mounted on a long, red wall display. Sponsor President’s Choice invited patrons to share their fondest taste memories by writing or drawing on the blank plates. Instead of memories, most were filled with favourite places to eat in the city, creating an impromptu culinary guide to Toronto. But we had a soft spot for one that read: “First time in Toronto! Love the food, love the smells, love the city!”
1000 Tastes of Toronto runs today from noon until 9 p.m.
All photos by Ayngelina Brogan/Torontoist.