Culinary News

The Buzz: January/February 2017

The Editors
Written by The Editors

London

Chef Thomas Waite of boutique catering company The In Home Chef is anticipating opening Spruce on Wellington January 27th, in the premises formerly occupied by Willie’s Café. Waite promises that the restaurant will provide patrons with an innovative dining experience “unlike anything that London has seen before.” Waite will also launch a series of weekly cooking classes in early spring. The In Home Chef product lines currently available at Remark will be available for purchase at the new location. www.theinhomechef

Approaching its 10th year, chef Paul Harding’s TOOK (The Only on King), with its fully realized farm-to-table philosophy, devoted acknowledgement of the local terroir, and support of local farmers and producers, ceased operations in November. Chef Harding has joined The Root Cellar crew as executive chef, and will be working closely alongside chefs Paul Paschink and Shayna Patterson. www.rootcellarorganic.ca

Blu Duby owners Joe and Cheryl Duby have built a diverse and loyal clientele by combining an accessible menu and wine list with upbeat ambience. The Dubys have opened a second Blu Duby on Fanshawe Park Road just west of Wonderland Road. The new restaurant features the same great menu and service that you’ve come to expect from their downtown London location. www.bluduby.com

The Tea Lounge recently opened at 268 Piccadilly Street. Patrons can experience exceptional quality, ethically-sourced teas from around the world. Enjoy contemporary or traditional style table service. Chinese ‘grandpa style’ is another option on offer, or you can simply get a quick cup to go. A selection of healthy snacks and baked goods by well-known local bakeries like Petit Paris, Boho Bakeshop and Bliss are available to take with your tea, whether you’re in the mood for a tasty treat, wholesome ingredients, or have food sensitivities.www.beteas.com/tea-lounge/

One of our favourite diners closed last year. Toddle Inn opened with a simple menu and a large, horseshoe-shaped counter in 1947. In the refurbished premises on Richmond Row is Renato Fucci’s Italian-inspired Renato’s. The restaurant is currently serving an all-day breakfast and lunch with offerings featured on a blackboard menu. The menu features items with an Italian flair such as eggs carbonara, cannoli-stuffed French toast and tagliatelle with Bolognese. Now that their liquor licence is in place, Renato’s is open in the evenings with a dinner menu of Italian specialities.

Heather Pinsky’s Naturally Vegan Company is London’s newest vegan kitchen. Pinsky has been a vegetarian for over 36 years and vegan for the last seven years. She recently opened a lunch/catering/wholesale/teaching kitchen at 630 Dundas Street in the London Food Incubator. Her focus is healthy and “yummy” vegan food with a particular focus on salads, sandwiches and sweets.www.naturallyvegancompany.com

The upscale Wisdom Café, Teashop and Japanese Creperie in Old East Village offers over 130 loose leaf teas and a large selection of tea pots and accessories. Unlike their French brethren, these savoury crepes are less sweet and are served in a cone shape for easy eating. Try the Applewood smoked ham crepe with turkey melted cheddar and Brie.

Theo and Gerda Korthof have sold the Artisan Bakery in Old East Village to Paulette Elie. Kaleb and Richard Elie will carry on crafting mouth-watering breads and savoury meat pies. Assistant baker Anna Helmers will make, pastries, quiches and other products. The new owners will continue to operate market stalls at the Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market at the Western Fair and St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market in Kitchener. There will be updated hours at their retail location at 864 Dundas Street.

Shawn and Shannon Slade, owners of Booch Organic Kombucha, are specialists in the art and science of fermented foods. The current Booch brewing facility is not only being used for production, but as a retail outlet where kombucha can be purchased on tap and sampled at a tasting bar. Booch has popped up in about 175 retailers and restaurants in the past year. There are plans for expansion in the new year into a larger space. The present location would remain as a retail outlet. www.boochorganickombucha.com

The London Wine &Food Show returns January 19th -21st with more food, wine and entertainment than ever before. In its 12th year the show promises to bring Londoners an enticing mix of local restaurants, wineries, craft beers, and spirits. There will taste seminars, stage presentations and entertainment. Sip, sample and savour at London’s Wine & Food Show! www.westernfairdistrict.com/wine-food-show

London Brewing Co-operative has expanded production and relocated to Burbrook Place in Old East Village. The new home of this worker-owned brewery includes a taproom, retail space, and a larger brewing system and will be open to the public in the next couple of months. www.londonbrewing.ca

Pure Bon: A Food Shop opened in Wortley Village to raves in early December but, due to extensive damage caused by water and a collapsed ceiling, they had to close for repairs. Pure Bon is expected to resume operations and have its official Grand Opening in mid-January. www.purebon.ca

VegFest 2016, held at the Western Fair District in London on November 5, had over 120 vendors and 7,000 attendees. www.vegfestlondon.com

Felipe Gomes ceased Aroma Restaurant operations at the end of December. Gomes, who was unable to find a buyer for the 12-year-old landmark restaurant, said walking away from the business was a life or death decision for him. Gomes suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery last year. We wish him good health and best wishes after his long successful run at Aroma.

Globally Local, billed as Canada’s first vegan fast food restaurant, has opened at 252 Dundas Street in downtown London, right across from the Central Public Library. James McInnes had success earlier this year when he developed the “Big McInnes,” a vegan interpretation of McDonald’s Big Mac, which he offered on the menu of his McVegans food truck and at local festivals. www.globallylocal.ca

Cilantro Mediterranean Cuisine opened at 525 Richmond Street in mid-December, beside Black Trumpet. The sit-in or take-out offering includes Middle Eastern fare with items like shawarma, falafel, tabboulih, hummus and fattoush, as well as Italian-inspired dishes such as chicken parmesan. www.cilantrocuisine.ca

London Training Centre is pleased to be offering a six-month culinary program that includes an 8-week work placement. Commencing in March, this interactive course will offer participants the opportunity to gain experience and fundamental and relevant skills and knowledge for a career in the hospitality industry. In the past seven years London Training Centre has developed a successful teaching model that integrates basic cooking techniques and knowledge with a broader, sustainable use of regional, seasonal products. The program will venture beyond the classic style of cuisine and explore a more intrinsic approach to the cooking. Along with receiving the combined theoretical and corresponding hands-on practical experience, the students will engage in open discussions with local food artisans, chefs and like-minded professionals to further enhance their experience. www.londontraining.on.ca

The new 10Eighteen coffee bar in Old East Village specializes in hand crafted, fresh pour over coffee and espresso roasted by O’Joe. They offer something for everyone, including food, craft beer and wine. www.10eighteen.ca

Andrew Fleet, Executive Director of Growing Chefs! Ontario, has announced that the former Auberge Restaurant at King and Maitland will be the new home for the ground-breaking program that unites chefs, growers, educators and community members in children’s food education projects. The enclosed sunrooms, dining rooms and bar will be turned into teaching areas. Upstairs features an additional three intimate rooms that can be used for private functions, corporate meetings and teaching facilities. There are also plans to transform the outdoor terrace into a teaching garden. www.growingchefsontario.ca

Your favourite new Ontario brewing companies of 2016, as polled by the Ontario Beverage Network, are Cowbell Brewing Co. (Blyth), Stray Dog Brewing Co. (Orleans) and Anderson Craft Ales (London). www.momandhops.ca

Kiss the Cook owner Lawrence Burden’s passion is searching for the highest-quality kitchenware from around the world — and bringing it to your kitchen. Kiss the Cook provides a wide range of cookware, kitchen gadgets, and giftware, and offers a popular bridal registry. Chris Squire, who was also partly responsible for dreaming up the name Kiss the Cook, is Chef-in-Residence and, along with a variety of top-notch local chefs, offers cooking classes. www.kissthecookonline.com

Luis Rivas and family continue to provide Latin flavour and ambience at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair and at True Taco Authentic Comedor Latino on Dundas Street near the Aeolian Hall. The cantina, with vibrant red walls and plenty of comfortable seating areas including a private room, is licensed. www.truetaco.com

The Twisted Toque Social Grill, a Canadian-themed franchise restaurant pilot, is anticipated to open around Feb. 1st on the ground floor of the former Park Lane Hotel at 186 King St., in the space previously occupied by The Brass Door. Executive Chef David Taylor will feature a menu that will include such emblematic offerings as back bacon, poutine, East Coast cod and lobster, and West Coast salmon in the 110-seat restaurant.

Stratford

Stratford Winterfest runs January 13–15. The goal is to provide families in our area with a high quality and fun winter weekend at no cost. Some of the events include Apple Land Train Rides, Ice Carving Demonstrations, Bethel Puppet Show, Big Screen Movie Night, Snowshoeing, Petting Zoo, Pancake Breakfast, Outdoor Skating and Ice Building Blocks. www.stratfordwinterfest.ca

There are lots of events for food lovers coming up in the next few months: Blues & Booze Tasting (January 14); The Hunter’s Feast at The Bruce (January 21); Local Beer & Cheese Pairing (January 28); Spanish Wine & Cheese Pairing (February 4); French Cheese and Wine Pairing (February 18). For details on these events and outstanding ideas for winter getaways, visit www.visitstratford.ca.

During the Market Square redevelopment in Stratford, please continue to support the many great businesses in the area. During construction, Revel has a back door and you can enter via their patio. The George Street lot beside Raja is often empty and the parking meters offer longer term parking. Erie St through Allen’s Alley adds a few more paces to your day, providing the added benefit of exercise and fresh air, and as always Cooper Site has free parking.

Revival House will be closed for a seasonal break until January 27th except for private events. Stratford’s premiere live music, wedding and events venue re-opens for “StringBone presents LIVE at Revival House” series on January 27th with Samantha Martin + Delta Sugar. Other StringBone events include: February 24th with two- time Juno nominee Alysha Brilla, March 24th with The Small Glories and April 7th with Craig Cardiff. On February 12th, enjoy a Valentine’s Spring Quartet and on February 19th, the Sunday Brunch Concert Series restarts, with Stratford Symphony Orchestra. www.revival.house.ca

Attend the 2nd Annual Revival House Craft Beer Festival on Saturday February 25th with food and beer pairings and live music. Meet and greet with brew masters and beer representatives from Ontario Craft Breweries including Black Swan Brewery, Railway City Brewery and Revival’s line up of 13 Craft Beer taps. A”Black Swan Brewery” Beer Dinner to follow the event. www.revival.house.ca

The Stratford Chefs School invites you to explore International Inspirations as chef students interpret the culinary styles of renowned International chefs. Courses are carefully paired with selected wines and are served at the new Stratford Chefs School Kitchens, 136 Ontario Street. The dinner series is offered Tuesday through Saturday January 10 through March 9. www.stratfordchef.com

There are some new spirits to enjoy in Stratford. Junction 56 Distillery is proudly local and following tradition while leveraging modern ideas to make unique and delicious products without shortcuts. Stop by on Saturdays at 11 a.m. for a tour and taste and purchase some local spirits to stock your home bar with some local flavour. www.junction56.ca

Around Our Region

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Ontario Tourism Awards of Excellence. Oxford County Cheese Trail has won the Ontario Culinary Tourism Leadership Award. In developing the Cheese Trail, Tourism Oxford worked with 23 partners to develop a guide for visitors to experience what the County has to offer. Each trail partner covers a specific need of visitors including dining, experiences, and accommodations, takeaway items to enjoy at home and, of course, cheeses. The partners have truly embraced the concept resulting in 20 new business relationships across Oxford County. Ingersoll Cheese & Agricultural Museum won the Top Small Museum in Ontario award, as voted by people in the first ever “Ontario’s Choice Award” contest conducted by Attractions Ontario.

Windsor Essex Pelee Island & EPIC Wineries won the Culinary Tourism Experience Award. As noted by The Hon. Eleanor McMahon (Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport) in an address to the winners, “Your work to advance culinary tourism, develop exciting experiences, and innovative marketing plans help to attract visitors from all over the world to Ontario. Your successes contribute to a dynamic tourism industry that stimulates our economy and has a positive impact on communities across the province.”

Thinking of a trip to wine country? It’s not just a warm weather activity. Snow will soon begin to blanket the vineyards, towns are being decorated for the holidays, wineries are bustling with activities and winemakers are anxiously waiting for the perfect temperature to harvest grapes for Icewine (-8°C). Wine Country Ontario’s website is a great place to start your planning. www.winecountryontario.ca.

Ontario’s craft spirit makers have been engaged in an uphill battle to amend archaic alcohol taxation laws and make operating a distillery in this province less difficult. In November 2016, Finance Minister Charles Sousa introduced a bill to revamp these tax laws, which includes a staggering new 61.5% sales tax for stores owned and operated by Ontario’s small and independent distilleries. The Ontario Craft Distillers Association (OCDA) calls the new tax “a major blow to the sustainability of distilleries working to provide Ontario farm-to-table, grain-to-glass spirits” and a move which they say “ignores the lessons of what works and what doesn’t from Ontario’s own wine and beer tax policy.” Noting the accelerated growth in Ontario’s craft beer industry, the OCDA points to encouraging tax laws that helped make that possible, and asks why comparable measures can’t be introduced for distillers.

Earlier this year, Ontario made it illegal for employers to take employees’ tips and other gratuities, except in limited circumstances. Employers are not allowed to make deductions from tips for things like spillage, breakage, losses or damage. These rules affect employers and employees covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in workplaces where tips and other gratuities are received — such as at bars, restaurants and catering businesses. www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/topics/tips.php

 

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The Editors

The Editors