The BUZZ: January/February 2014

Written by The Editors


Newer Kids on the Block

Gabriel Sepulveda, a native of Chile, opened the Latin-American inspired Mas Café in downtown London a year ago. Sepulveda is an excellent cook. Mas Café locally sources its ingredients, including its butcher products. Pork or Beef Milanesa (breaded and fried cutlet sandwich) alone is worth the visit. Merkén, or merquén, is a smoked spice blend made with smoked chilies known as Cacho de Cabra or “horn of the goat.” The dried chilies are combined with coriander, cumin and other spices to create a unique flavour profile in many of his delicious offerings. Aromatic empanadas, a savoury treat, are stuffed with a variety of traditional fillings, and churros, delicious fried choux paste doughnuts, are made-to-order and filled with manjar de leche. 192 Dundas St.

Lee Chul Wha’s Korean Restaurant continues to get great word-of-mouth with its delicious versions of bibimbap and bulgogi. Both the cabbage and the fermented radish kimchee at the Korean Restaurant are fiery and crunchy. 170 Adelaide St. N (at Hamilton Road)

Chef Trinh’s CHI HI Vietnamese is the latest restaurant to open its doors in the OEV. The traditional Vietnamese fare includes black bean tofu subs, beef subs, pad Thai, vegetarian Singapore noodles and black bean tofu vermicelli. It is quickly making a name for its Vietnamese subs. 791 Dundas St. (beside Aeolian Hall at Rectory)

Uber-restaurateur/caterer Jess Jazey-Spoelstra of The River Room Café and Private Dining and North Moore Catering is getting set to open the Rhino Lounge Bakery and Coffee Shop in the premises previously occupied by the gift shop at Museum London. (Museum London, Ridout Street N.

You won’t get Heinz ketchup at Mike Smith’s restaurants anymore, due to a symbolic protest against Heinz closing its Leamington plant and putting 1,000 people out of work. The decision to close the Leamington plant is also expected to decimate the businesses of many area tomato growers. “I look what that decision is going to do to Leamington. It’s not just a setback — that’s huge,” said Smith, owner of Joe Kool’s, Fellini Koolini’s and P Za Pie, along with two London bars. “Heinz is allowed to make a corporate decision, but I’m making a corporate decision not to buy their product,” Smith said. “I hope others do the same.”

Built in 1893, home to the Featherbone Corset Co., and more recently the site of the Bud Gowan antique store, the building on Clarence Street was purchased by John Fyfe-Millar in September 2012. At the time Fyfe-Millar said, “What London needs is a stylish wine bar, featuring an appetizer menu and jazz, a place where mature crowds can go for a drink before or after an evening out. There are a lot of fabulous places to dine downtown. Ours will be a lounge area where you can have a drink, a glass of wine and enjoy some music.” Jess Jazey-Spoelstra tells eatdrink that she and Fyfe-Millar have come to an agreement and in fall of 2014 she will be opening something very special in the premises.

Windermere Manor’s Executive Chef Kristain Crossen built a stellar culinary reputation at the late lamented Braise Food and Wine, at Carter’s on Downie in Stratford, and at Langdon Hall with his sustainable culinary philosophy, and farm-to-table sensibility. On his new menus Chef and his culinary team showcase a selection of old favourites, signature ingredients, and taste experiences that change to take advantage of the seasons.

The Raja, London’s popular Indian fine dining hot spot, has changed hours slightly, and is now open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday, and closed Sundays.

Johnathon Gushue, former executive chef of Cambridge’s renowned Langdon Hall, is the new culinary director at the Toronto-based Queen Margherita Pizza. Gushue has been replaced by former Luma Restaurant executive chef Jason Bangerter.

As a community group, Startup London aims to foster entrepreneurship in the city by providing people with a singular source for startup news, events, resources, and a place to connect. Startup London is a grassroots community organization that is a part of the national Startup Canada not-for-profit organization. Startup London defines a startup as “an early stage organization with limited resources, experimenting with development of a business model, and searching for sustainability.”

Startup Drinks is the umbrella term used for Startup London’s networking events. Startup Drinks is held on the last Wednesday of every month. The organizers choose to hold their events at venues like Pub Milos, as opposed to franchise locations, because they realize that an entrepreneurial ecosystem incorporates everyone equally from the local hobby farm to the high-rise firm.

Fanshawe College professor Scott Baechler, along with Culinary Team Canada, won gold and silver at the Salon Culinaire Mondial competition in Basil, Switzerland. “It has been a huge honour and privilege to participate in this competition,” Baechler said in a statement. “It has been exhilarating, but also very intense. This is a game of fatigue as much as skill.” Baechler says he learned some new techniques from his colleagues and competitors, and plans to bring those skills back to the classroom.

The Salon Culinaire Mondial is held every six years, and is considered one of the three most prestigious international team-cooking competitions in the world. This year, more than 80,000 visitors attended the competition.

Patrick Dunham’s Kingfisher Coffee is a 100% Canadian-owned wholesale coffee roaster on a mission to provide the highest quality blends that are locally roasted in London and ethically sourced. The company caters to the individual needs of customers while demonstrating proven and transparent community involvement. The business was borne out of a partnership between a café owner and a coffee roaster.

Starting in the restaurant business at the age of 15, Dunham received his Red Seal Chef Certificate at the age of 21. After traveling and cooking across Canada and Europe he settled in London Ontario. Dunham worked and managed many different food service establishments and has been an integral part of all aspects of the restaurant business.

After cooking for 15 years, Dunham turned his attention to roasting coffee and expanding his understanding of the coffee industry. Dunham has traveled across North America and to coffee farms learning all aspects of the coffee business from roasting and cupping to selling. Former Lead Roaster and Manager of Fire Roasted Coffee Company, he presided at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market location for six years.

Felipe Gomes’s Aroma Mediterranean Restaurant evokes a strong old world ambiance. Established in 2001, Gomes provides an experiential culinary offering, with amenities and facilities for cooking classes, corporate team building exercises and a private conference room for up to 30. Gomes recently opened The Aroma Café as a Parisian- inspired coffee house, offering patrons a selection of speciality sandwiches, café au lait, croissants and patisserie. Aroma Café is the latest in a string of upmarket cafés that are part grab-and-go café, part bakery, and part casual dine-in restaurant. The café is attached to the restaurant, which fronts on Piccadilly St.

Gregg and Justin Wolfe are currently working on opening “Rock Au Taco” next door to the Early Bird Diner. The idea is to have the small takeout taco bar with limited seats, that will also serve the Early Bird eat in customers if they want anything from the Taco list.

London Ontario’s premier Historic Inn is under new management. Now owned and operated by Farhi Holdings Corporation, Idlewyld Inn & Spa joins Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in the Farhi portfolio. Built in 1878 for former mayor Charles Smith Hyman, it was transformed into an inn in 1986. In October 2013, the Idelwyld’s then-owner Marcel Butchey announced it would be closing just over two years after he had purchased the business from former owners, John and Christine Kropp. Butchey told eatdrink that he would be returning to Switzerland. By the grand re-opening in April 2014, Farhi says he is hoping to employ between 30 and 40 staff.

Billy’s Deli on Dundas Street has been a downtown landmark for over thirty years. For the last eight years, Jeff Harvey has cooked up delicious meals at the deli. In mid-December, Harvey and his wife Sandi officially became the new owners, buying the establishment from Joe and Diane Pritchard, who have owned it since 2004. They took over from Vicci and Jon Coughlin, owner/operators of Telegraph House Heritage Inn and Harbourtown Fudge in Port Stanley, who ran it for 18 years.

Your inner epicure will delight at the tasty destinations along Ontario’s Southwest Dining Detours. Be sure to head to The Early Bird diner for a decadent wake up call named The Fat Elvis. This heavenly French toast sandwich is stuffed, and we mean stuffed, with smoked bacon and Elvis’ favourite combo of peanut butter, panko-fried bananas and honey and topped with maple syrup.

For thirty years and counting, Michael’s On The Thames has been regarded as London’s celebration destination, and for good reason. Owner-operator Brian Stewart, general manager Joelle Lees, executive chef Denis Clavette and their polished staff give patrons what they want, consistently, and that is why the restaurant is “perennially popular.” There is no attempt to be trendy or cutting edge at Michael’s. The restaurant has recently been refurbished to create a renewed sense of comfort and well-being.

Classic tableside cooking is part of the innate charm of Michaels On The Thames. Caesar salad for two is prepared tableside, as well as flaming dishes: steak Diane, Brome Lake duck à l’Orange, sole meunière, pepper steak and chateaubriand. Cherries jubilee and strawberries alla “Marco” for two are among the items on offer for dessert. It’s classic French flambé for traditionalists who prefer a bit of flair in their dining presentation — and appreciate a bit of flare with their tableside preparation. There are also many à la carte selections on the extensive menu that mostly sticks to familiar classics.

For several years, trü restaurant and lounge was at the top of the restaurant game in London, employing some of our present-day restaurant stars. After almost nine years to the day, trü has closed its doors and ceased operations.

Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) has appointed Jeff Schiller as manager of YOU Made It Enterprises. Schiller has previous experience as a management recruiter and trainer with General Mills Restaurants. He will lead Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s five social-enterprise businesses: recycling, wood products, Market Quality Preserves, YOU Made It Cafe and YOU Made It retail kiosk at Covent Garden Market.

A Taste for Life started in Ottawa in 1999 in support of Bruce House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation. Since then, Ottawa has been joined by 23 communities from Newfoundland to Alberta. Participating Taste restaurants open their doors on April 23rd and donate 25% of their evening sales to AIDS Service Organizations in their community. Support the men, women and children in your community by going out to dinner. Since its inception A Taste for Life has raised over $550,000 and the agency, now Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC), serves the regions of Perth, Huron, Oxford, Elgin, Lambton and Middlesex counties. There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS. The number of clients needing support and services has also grown. It is more important than ever for A Taste for Life to both exist and flourish. Monforte on Wellington in Stratford is among the new participants this year.

Chris and Mary Woolf are returning to St. Marys, at 159 Queen Street. Little Red’s Pub and Eatery will be opening early February. Chris and Mary Woolf always made a sojourn to the former Woolfy’s well worth the drive. The Woolfs have been true pioneers when it comes to supporting culinary regionalism, as dedicated and loyal supporters of the area’s farmers, artisans, sustainable and organic producers for two decades. Chris was re-interpreting culture-specific culinary specialties with homegrown ingredients long before the term “local” became part of our culinary lexicon. They know how to provide a warm and welcoming ambience.



The restaurant and lounge are now open at The Bruce, with the hotel opening May 24th 2014. The Restaurant is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday at 5:00 pm with the last reservation at 9:00 pm; The Lounge is open late night.

Executive Chef Aaron Linley describes his menu as “Nouveau Ontario” — imaginative, ambitious, eclectic cuisine marrying global influence, modern French technique and the very best of Ontario. Bronwyn Linley is the Food and Beverage Manager. Owner Jennifer Birmingham sits on the board of the Stratford Festival, Stratford Summer Music, is in the cabinet of the Transplant Campaign at Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, and is a front line volunteer for Perth County Victim Services. In her free time, Jennifer can be found out and about with her trusty sidekick Eddie (the Golden Doodle) or scoping out luxury hotels in the name of research.

Stratford Chefs School Lunch Series. Three course menus created daily by Level 2 students are served. Walk in guests are welcome, however reservations are strongly suggested as seating is limited. 11:30 am–2:30 pm Rene’s Bistro, 20 Wellington Street, Stratford, January 10 & 11, 17 & 18, 24 &25, 31 & February 1, 7 & 8, 14 & 15, 2014 .,

Vintage Hotels is thrilled to welcome The Parlour Historic Inn & Suites in downtown Stratford, Ontario to its collection of luxury properties. Effective December 1, 2013, The Parlour Inn will operate as a Vintage Hotel under the leadership and guidance of current owners, Bill and Shelley Windsor. Vintage Hotels will assume full ownership of the property on February 3, 2014.

The Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival presented by GE Café Appliances will now take place earlier in the summer, on the weekend of July 18–20th. Historically held in September, the event has become one of Ontario’s largest food festivals celebrating local cuisine, talented chefs and passionate food producers.

There’s a lot going on at Mercer Hall these days. The Craft Beer Dinner Series starts Jan 16th with Lake of Bays Brewery, Feb 20th is Muskoka, Mar 20th Silversmith, and Beau’s comes on April 17. Book your seats, they’re limited. Only $60/person includes a 4-course chef-inspired menu & four 10 oz craft brews! Limited seating, meet the brewery reps and talk about craft beer.

Every Thursday night at Mercer Hall it’s Champagne and Oysters! Satisfy your oyster craving with $2 oysters and enjoy a lovely sparkling wine by the glass or bottle.

Rundles has announced that it will be open for its 37th season next year from May 23 to September 20, 2014.

Slow Food Perth County Sunday Market has moved indoors to The Local Community Food Centre, 612 Erie Street, Stratford. Shop and support producers who practice good, clean and fair principles at this welcoming facility. Sundays 10 am–2 pm.

Stratford Farmers’ Market is a year round market operating since 1855 at the Stratford Rotary Complex Agriplex. Fresh produce, crafts, meat and cheese are on offer. 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. 7 am–12 pm.

The popular winter bistro dinner menu is back at the Keystone Alley Café, 34 Brunswick St., Stratford. Enjoy two courses for $24.95 or three courses for $31.95.

Stratford Says Cheese! Week, to celebrate the Canadian Dairy XPO. Stratford and area restaurants have created special menus to highlight their signature local cheese dishes. Visit these businesses and ask for the Stratford Says Cheese! specials: Boomers Gourmet Fries, Canadian Grub to Go, The County Food Co., Downie Street Burgers, Fellini’s Italian Mediterranean, Foster’s Inn, Let Them Eat Cake Restaurant & Dessert Cafe, Madelyn’s Diner, Monforte on Wellington and The Parlour. February 2–9

CheeseFEST is a complimentary networking social bringing the dairy products, commercial industry and the consumer together all under one roof. CheeseFEST takes place on the first evening of the Canadian Dairy XPO (CDX). CDX is fusing the gap between the Canadian dairy producer and the general consumer, while promoting the category of high quality and healthy Canadian dairy products. Features of the night will include a massive cheese buffet featuring cow, sheep, goat, Ayrshire and water buffalo cheeses, a world renowned cheese carver, local wines and micro brews (cash bar), European hospitality hub featuring Dutch specialty foods, 4-H Agri-Youth fundraising activities and live entertainment, with a fiddle band from 4–7pm. February 5. Stratford Rotary Complex, 353 McCarthy Road, Stratford.


Savour Stratford Tutored Tastings

February 15: Beers from the Niagara Region and Ontario Cheese. Good things grow (and ferment!) in Ontario! Come and try out some of the province’s best local fare. ,

February 22: Belgian Beer and Cheese. The history of beer and cheese making dates far back in Belgium and as a result, some of the best beer and cheese in the world comes from this area. Come and discover some extraordinary pairings.

Tastings take place at The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop, 118 Ontario St., Stratford, 3 pm–5 pm. Age of majority required. Tickets are available for purchase on-line or by chance at the beginning of the tasting.

Gala Preview Dinner with the Stratford Chefs School. A sparkling preview of our Annual Gala Dinner in Toronto — a four course dinner with wine pairings. Reservations required. 6:30–9:30 pm, The Prune, 151 Albert St., Stratford. February 21, 2014,

Stratford Garden Festival: “Beyond the Garden Gate” is the inspiration for this annual indoor garden event. The Opening Garden Party marries delectable food and drink with the ultimate sneak peak amid live music and innovative garden displays. Presented by The Lung Association and sponsored by Orr Insurance at the Rotary Complex, 353 McCarthy Rd., Stratford. February 27–March 2. Get all the dirt at


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The Editors