The Buzz: September/October 2013

Written by The Editors


The latest word on local chefs, restaurants, farmers’ markets, food shops, and culinary events. Send tips to and follow us for up-to-the-minute news on Facebook and Twitter.


London Training Centre combines 25 years of food skills training, advocacy for careers in food service and a commitment to a local, sustainable food system. The Local Food Skills program is designed as an introduction to the industry. The three-week program includes both classroom and kitchen instruction. Participants receive the full support of London Training Centre’s employment services team.

Local Food Skills presents Food for Thought on Thursday September 12, 2013. This year, the 4th annual fundraiser, held at the farm where they grow food ecologically, is a feast in the field in support of the Local Food Skills program.

Chatham-Kent Table is an opportunity to meet and connect with farmers and producers in Chatham- Kent. The region has some of the most productive agricultural land in Canada and the organizers invite you to enjoy the bounty of this beautiful area. This year’s event will be held amongst the picturesque blueberry fields at Parks Blueberries & Country Store. Proceeds go to Growing Chefs! Ontario: Uniting chefs, growers, educators, and the community in children’s food education. Twenty-two area producers from Chatham-Kent and seven area chefs will prepare eight courses sourced from Chatham Kent. Farm tours on Sunday will run from 10–3 pm.

“I am London” celebrates the diversity of London by sharing the stories of ten successfully settled immigrants from different countries who have chosen London as their home. T.G. Haile of Addis Ababa and Yam Gurung of Momo’s at the Market are two of London’s culinary stars that deserve our attention and support.

Yam Gurung was born and raised in a remote village on the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains of central Nepal with his parents and 7 siblings. At the age of 12 he headed to a busy Nepalese tourist area, to advance his chances of finding work to support his family. Gurung learned English, interacting with Western tourists and working in restaurants.” He would eventually apprentice as a chef in several London restaurants (notably Custom Cuisine Catering), learning about the various international cuisines.

Yam came to Canada to join his wife, Samantha Schuster, and newly born daughter in 2001. They settled in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, where Samantha worked as a midwife for a year, before moving to London. Having always worked in the food services industry, for Yam the idea of starting a catering business came naturally. The business was incubated at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market and has evolved to become Momos at the Market, where Yam and his team serve hand-made Nepalese food.

Arriving in London in 1998, with little more than ambition and dreams of a brighter future, T.G. Haile was eager to start new life in a new home, after having escaped war in Ethiopia. T.G. began working at variety of jobs; attending classes to improve her English and learning a new trade. T.G. dreamt of opening a restaurant. Her passion for cooking began at a very early age, when she would roam around her mother’s restaurant, just outside of Addis Ababa.

Regulars, restaurant insiders, and the vegetarian crowd are known to flock to this off-the-beaten-track spot, for reasonably priced, fresh, well-executed Ethiopian cuisine in a homey and hospitable environment. The menu offers outstanding examples of Ethiopian cuisine.

T.G. is proud to call London her home. “I chose to start my business in London, but more importantly, I chose to start my family here. It is a safe and welcoming community, and there is nowhere else I would rather build a future.”

The Westminster Working Group is a group of residents living in the Westminster neighbourhood of southeast London who are dedicated to helping children, youth and families live a healthier life. The group started in March of 2010 and has since developed a Neighbourhood Action Plan to target some main priority areas: Urban Planning, Public Safety, Active Transportation and Accessibility, Availability of Food and Physical Activity Opportunities, which all influence a person’s ability to be active and eat healthy in their neighbourhood.

The Westminster neighbourhood has been identified as a food desert due to its distance from nutritional food retailers. This means that there is no grocery store located within the neighbourhood and no local transportation that will take a resident directly to a grocery store.

The Westminster Working Group led by Shannon Sinclair, wanted to make a local food hub where the community could meet and shop, and for that reason the pilot for the Southdale Farmer’ and Artisans’ Market was created. The Child & Youth Network (CYN) led by The Healthy Eating, Healthy Physical Activity initiative (HEHPA) have been willing to see the market’s plans come to fruition.

The Child & Youth Network (CYN) is comprised of more than 130 local agencies and individuals dedicated to doing what is best for children, youth and families. Their vision: happy, healthy children and youth today … caring, creative, responsible adults tomorrow. Westminster Park neighbourhood was selected as a pilot neighbourhood by the CYN in 2011.

HEHPA project manager Christopher Green says, “HEHPA works to promote changes in physical behaviour and eating habits to promote healthy, happy living for children, youth, and their families. By coordinating with the Westminster Working Group, grassroots community projects can be created. These projects can be executed on a small scale, to have big impacts”.

The Southdale Farmers’ Market operates until the end of September, every Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 pm, at the corner of Southdale and Adelaide Streets. It has been a community initiative by the landlord who helped make the space possible, Market Manager Sara Denomy, and by Business Development Manager of the Artisans’ Group Michelle Navackas who provided guidance and staff, as well as the community who have come out to support the group.

The Southdale Farmers’ Market helps bring fresh produce and a sense of community to the Westminster neighbourhood while letting residents knows that their efforts within their own neighbourhood can be an influence on the lives of many.

Covent Garden Farmers’ Market, London Community Resource Centre (LCRC), and Growing Chefs! Ontario are collaborating on a pilot project to increase accessibility to and understanding of local fresh-from-the-farm food for school age children, their parents, and the community at large.

The project, which is being piloted at University Heights Public School in September, involves setting up a farmers’ market at the school which will provide access to healthy food; education in the classroom provided by Growing Chefs Ontario, to promote understanding of why healthy food is important; and finally a “learning garden,” provided by LCRC.

The market runs Wednesdays, September 11 to October 9, 3:30–6:30 pm right behind University Heights Public School, at 27 Ford Crescent, close to the University, Althouse and Brescia College. The market is open to the entire community, including Western students and faculty.

Downtown London has relocated to King Street’s restaurant row after 10 months in a temporary office at Citi Plaza. The agency recruits new downtown development and promotes and mentors existing businesses. The newly renovated storefront is at 123 King St., across from Covent Garden Market.

The Curry Garden Restaurant has recently relocated south of King Street on Richmond in the premises formerly occupied by Los Comales.

At Kantina, Tapas Tuesdays and Wednesdays continue. For those suffering from food envy or rampant indecision, they have decided to extend their tapas nights into the fall. Peculiar Brunch: Sleeping in is one of the most important functions in life. So, on Sundays, give your brain time to relax; your stomach can wait until 11:00 am for brunch. Kantina’s take on a Sunday tradition, Balkan infusion, starts September 8.

Recently opened innovative independent businesses like Byron FreeHouse and Waldo’s in Byron continue to add another level of sophistication to Byron’s culinary scene. Byron FreeHouse owners Katherine Banasik and Executive Chef Robbin Azzopardi have all the ingredients of a sizzling culinary destination and couldn’t have organized a better makeover. The FreeHouse opened in August to praise, in the smartly re-imagined premises formerly occupied by La Bella Vita Ristorante on Commissioners Road. The dining room is a dramatic example of the openness of contemporary restaurant design. Chef Joshua Sawyer’s upscale menu is innovative and has a strong seafood tilt with lots of interesting choices.

Just down the block in Byron, Mark Kitching and Mark Navackas have opened Waldo’s in Byron, a satellite operation of Waldo’s on King in the Covent Garden Market. Waldo’s is known for using fresh market ingredients. You will enjoy casual bistro-style selections with many of the “old” Waldo’s signature favourites.

Things are heating up in Wortley Village. eatdrink recently spoke to restaurant insider Wendy Yoon about changes at Gusto Food & Wine Bar. Chef Stephen Burns’s menu includes tapas-style sharing plates that are generally well-done. The restaurant also offers seasonal entrées, inspired salads, Italian-style pizzas and house-made desserts. Dine inside or on the charming balcony, this hot spot in the heart of the Village has become a mainstay.

Danny Bikos and Chris Korakianitis are expected to open the Sweet Onion Grill in the premises previously occupied by Ciao Bistro across from the Black Walnut Café. Another new contender garnering rave reviews in the Village is Mai’s Thai Food.

Restaurants like Unique Food Attitudes at Dundas and Lyle and The Root Cellar near Dundas and Adelaide continue to add charm to the Old East Village. Rick Peori from ABC Cheese opened his new cheese shop on Dundas Street across from WFFAM this past June. Miki and Agnes Hambleck of Taste of Hungary opened their new butcher shop in mid-August next door to Peori, and just down the street from Theo and Gerda Korthof`s Artisan Bakery, which set up shop earlier in the year. Miki and Agnes are well-known for their popular, all-natural, no-filler sausages, bacon, and other delicious Hungarian-inspired products. All three have maintained their locations at the WFFAM.

Chef Andrew Wolwowicz of The Springs on Springbank Drive is starting a monthly dinner feature at the restaurant called A Chef’s Salute to the Craftsman. This initiative will feature farmers, local producers, cheese makers and other food and beverage artisans. The first dinner will feature Cameron’s Brewery out of Oakville and Kyle Smith, the brew master himself, will be here to give a talk. The beers will be used in the preparation of the four courses along with having the beer to taste while eating that dish. The cost is $65. The Spring’s is also featuring live entertainment Thursday to Saturday. The smartly appointed restaurant, housed in a beautifully refurbished church, will be celebrating its 2nd anniversary in mid-October.

Everything Tea, located on the 2nd floor of the Western Fair Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, has been nominated to enter the 2013 Canadian Gift and Tableware Association Retailer of the Year Award Competition.

Laura Campeau of Silversmith Brewing Company has just started a London chapter of Barley’s Angels. It is more than just a social drinking club for women, the goal is to respect craft beer, brewing, and have a thirst for beer knowledge.

Rick Weingarden and Allan Watts’s Anything Grows Seed Company is now a permanent fixture at the Western Fair Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. Hard-to-find seeds and organic sprouting seeds will be available all year. With a new larger space they have expanded into some of their favourite items in other categories: bird feeders, gloves, potted arrangements, flower bulbs, sprout growers and hand- weeders to name a few. To come for the holiday entertaining season: amaryllis and paperwhites, both bare bulb and potted arrangements. Local organic garlic has been a specialty for years—buy for eating or growing. Look for Anything Grows Seed Co. during seed season at local Seedy Saturdays ( and The Stratford Garden Festival.

Join Mercer Hall on Monday nights for a culinary adventure: no menu, no decisions to make, just sit back and relax while the kitchen creates tasty small plates, served family-style. Simply inform your server of any dietary concerns and enjoy up to 20 savoury courses followed by half a dozen desserts. If you make it all the way through and you’re still feeling hungry, the chefs will create new exciting items for you à la minute. This winter, Mercer Hall will be chasing the blues away with a set of themed dinner parties. Tickets are $50 and will include a theme-inspired cocktail, three-course family-style dinner and take-home keepsake. Appropriate attire is encouraged for each event with the best-dressed couple/individual winning a weekend getaway in the hotel. 519-271-9202

Savour Stratford Perth County Culinary Festival runs September 20–22. This year’s theme is “Globally inspired, Locally grown cuisine.” For the opening on Friday, September 20, the chefs and students from Fanshawe College have planned an amazing kick off and their many talents will be showcased throughout the entire event. Bring your family and friends to the Avon River and visit the eclectic culinary village from 6–9 pm. The Mill Street Craft Beer and Wine Pavilion will be open from 6 pm–midnight.

Toronto Star Culinary Stage — Learn about the many flavours of the world that are now at home in Ontario’s culinary “melting pot,” including presentations on the foods of India, Trinidad, Mexico, Peru, Thailand, Brazil, Burma and Eastern Europe. Learn from celebrity chefs including Vikram Vij, Roger Mooking, Elizabeth Rivasplata, Wing Li, Mara Salles, Naomi Duguid, Francisco Alejandri, Jordan Lassaline, and Tim Larsen.

GE Café Chefs Series presents Vikram Vij. Join celebrated Chef Vikram Vij for an intimate 3-hour class and lunch. This demonstration-style class is limited to 40 participants who will interact with Vikram as he introduces them to his world-renowned modern Indian cuisine. Using local ingredients, Vikram will prepare a 3-course lunch for participants and pair the menu with specially selected wines from Chateau des Charmes. Participants will also receive a signed copy of Vikram’s most recent book, Vij’s at Home: Relax, Honey, and a GE Chefs Series apron. The Local Community Food Centre, Saturday, September 21.

City Hall Learning Centre — Compare Ontario craft beers to inter­national brands, or taste the subtleties of Canadian and American whiskies. Add a global perspective in your pursuit of a healthier lifestyle from global grains to characteristics of Asian and local teas. These talks and tastings are informative, entertaining and guaranteed to broaden your culinary knowledge and perspective.

The Taste of Ontario Artisan Alley — Saturday, September 21 — New for 2013 is an afternoon of testing and tasting some of Ontario’s newest VQA wines, up-and-coming craft beers, samples from Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers, and exclusive cheeses provided by Dairy Farmers of Ontario from Ontario farm artisan cheese makers. A highlight of the Alley is the selection of a variety of cask beers — the unique and limited run of unfiltered and unpasteurized beers — only available at the Festival from 11 am–5 pm.

Savour Stratford Sunday Tasting, presented by Scotiabank — September 22. The highlight of the culinary festival takes place at the tented garden party in Stratford’s Market Square, from noon–4 pm (VIP) and 1–4 pm (General Admission). Thirty top local chefs pair up with Perth County producers to create an array of seasonal morsels, to tempt your palates and to be judged for the festival’s top tasting awards. Guests sample and savour the best of Perth County, while sipping Ontario VQA wines and craft beers with live entertainment.

Stratford Garlic Festival — Celebrate two scent-sational days of garlic in beautiful Stratford! Wander through the Garlic Market, watch celebrity chef presenters, hear what garlic gurus have to say, and learn to braid garlic! It’s a celebration of everything garlic and a community project of the Kiwanis Club of Stratford. Saturday September 7, 9–4 pm and Sunday September 8, 10 am–4 pm.

Flavours of Stratford Culinary Walks — Two guided walking tours present locally produced culinary delights in the heart of Stratford. Visit a selection of unique food destinations to meet passionate artisans. Morning tours are held from 10:30 am–1:30 pm. Afternoon tours are held from 2:30–5:30 pm. Tastings along the way conclude with a custom sandwich and sample of craft beer or wine. Wednesday–Saturday in September.

Weekend Foraging with Peter Blush — Search the scenic trails of Southwestern Ontario for delicious wild edibles and mushrooms with veteran forager Peter Blush. Learn how to properly identify, harvest and prepare nature’s bounty with conservation in mind. Offered every weekend in September and October. Custom tours are available through the week.

Pubs, Pilsner and Spirits tours — Stratford enthusiasts guide you on a walking pub crawl through Stratford’s Victorian downtown. Sample four craft beers as you hear about the spirited side of Stratford and the tumultuous brewing history of Perth County.

Birtch Farms Apple Festival — A two-day kick off to the fall festival season, featuring pick your own apples and pumpkins, horse-drawn wagon rides along the “Apple Tale Trail,” scarecrow making, corn maze, food tent, wine tasting and new product sampling. Strolling musicians, fresh baked apple fritters, apple pies, apple muffins, caramel apples and much more. The Festival is held from September 14–15, 10 am–5 pm.

Winemakers Dinner Series at The Prune — Chef Bryan Steele and Sommelier Peter Lavoie invite their favourite Ontario wineries to The Prune Restaurant for a Winemaker’s series of dinners this season, starting on September 20th at 8 pm. Dinners will be created by Chef Steele to complement the wines, with help from Sommelier Lavoie and the winemakers.

Share the Health Farmraiser — Amazing music and incredible food to raise funds for The Local Community Food Centre to purchase fresh, healthy and organic local food. A shuttle from The Local Community Food Centre to farms runs from 11 am–2 pm on September 28th.

Savour Stratford Tutored Tasting — Dark Beer and Stinky Cheese. Just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, come and enjoy the fun of pairing some of the stinkiest cheese available with some great dark beers — a combination to get you through the long nights of fall. October 5 and 26 from 3–5 pm.

Savour Stratford Culinary Trails inspired by Bacon and Ale, Maple and Chocolate are available year round at the Stratford Tourism Alliance.,,

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The Editors