Culinary News

The Buzz: March/April 2019

The Editors
Written by The Editors

London 

Rembrandt Homes together with Bethanys Hope Foundation presents “Feast with Friends” featuring Food Network star Chef Michael Smith, on Thursday, April 25. Enjoy an “Interactive Dinner Party” that kicks off at London Convention Centre with 5pm cocktails, food stations hosted by London culinary luminaries, and a silent auction. A sit-down dinner service and program, including a live auction, starts at 7pm. Tickets are $200 and available online, or call 519-858-HOPE. This is an exciting time for Bethany’s Hope, with clinical trials imminent after more than two decades of groundbreaking research right here in London into the devastating disease of Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD). If you have not yet seen the short video outlining the efforts of Lindey and David Mcintyre, who lost their child Bethany to MLD, go to bethanyscure.ca and prepare to be inspired. You can also see a video showing highlights of last year’s event. bethanyshope.org

Angelina & Carmine Ianni, formerly of Pasquales in North London, have opened C’Angelina at 426 Third St. Tuesday–Friday, 1–6pm, they sell prepared foods and fresh meats and offer family-style catering — including BBQ whole pigs — for family reunions, weddings, or backyard parties. You also will find them, and their porchetta specialty, at London festivals this summer and at the Pinery Market in Grand Bend. facebook.com/cangelinameatcatering/

While this might sound like heresy to those pining for Spring, Kevin Beattie and his team award-winning team at Somerset Fine Wines reminds us that it is never too early to start your Christmas wine! A common misconception is that making wine at an affordable price means it will taste “like homemade.” Drop in at 150 Exeter Road for expert guidance, or go to somersetfinewines.com to see their Spring Specials.

Cream Beanery Cafe is a coffee and gelato shop, and more. They serve breakfast, lunch and supper, featuring daily homemade specials. Save room for a Gelato Panini — your favourite gelato flavour sealed inside a fresh brioche bun. Delicious! 825 Southdale Rd. W (at Tillman) creambeanery.com

As reported by the CBC, a bad olive harvest, primarily due to the olive fly, plus a late harvest due to challenging conditions, has led to some shortages of quality extra virgin olive oil. Jamie Griffiths of The Pristine Olive let us know they have found a good supply from Spain, Sicily and California, as well as his first oil from Portugal. His store is at 884 Adelaide St N, with products also available at The Village Meat Shop at The Market at Western Fair on weekends. thepristineolive.ca

The Church Key is Vanessa and Pete Willis’ downtown gastro-pub with farm-to-table cuisine and an impressive selection of craft beers. Chef Michael Anglestad follows in the modern British tradition by specializing in high quality food prepared with innovation and finesse. 476 Richmond St. thechurchkey.ca

Unity Project for Relief of Homelessness provides emergency shelter, supportive housing and related services to help adults and youth avoid living on the street. Life skills are embedded into a home-like environment where programming for over a thousand individuals (annually) involves participants with personal accountability, taking care of themselves, each other, and community. This year, the Unity Project announced a partnership with Museum London for the 9th annual UPwithART event to be held on April 27 at the new Centre at the Forks at Museum London, catered by North Moore Catering. UPwithART is Unity Project’s signature fundraiser and a significant charitable and art event in London. upwithart.ca

The Regional HIV/AIDS Connection annual fundraiser “A Taste for Life” returns May 1st. Get involved by volunteering, donating, or dining out at a participating restaurant! Participating restaurants open their doors and donate 25% of their evening sales to AIDS service organizations in their community. atasteforlife.org

Chef Kim Sutherland has done a stellar job transforming food services at Boler Mountain, offering a wide variety of healthy choices including Buddha bowls with vegan broth, housemade chicken and vegetarian chilli, and grab-and-go fresh wraps alongside a full line of hot foods aimed at hungry families, including a full breakfast. She nurtures a bee colony on site and has instituted an extensive landfill diversion program. Kudos! As well, Chef Kim leads the catering kitchen for weddings and special events at Boler. The popular new chalet is now booking into 2020. bolermountain.com

The London Training Centre (LTC) Local Food Skills program connects people to food. Receiving solid food-based knowledge, participants explore options for working with food as a job or profession. This is a full-time three-week course that provides skills training, industry certifications and learning experiences including fundamental culinary skills, food service styles, growing, harvesting and retailing food at a farmers’ market. Revenue from the wildly popular Local Food Skills monthly dinners, put on by students, supports the program. londontraining.on.ca/local_food_skills.htm 

Fanshawe College and downtown’s new flex street, Dundas Place, host a celebration of Canadian music, food and fun on March 15, noon–6pm, coinciding with JUNO Week (March 11–17). All members of the community, along with Fanshawe staff, students and alumni, are invited to attend. This free, family-friendly celebration will include live performances by Fanshawe Music Industry Arts students and graduates and feature JUNO-inspired appetizers prepared by The Chef’s Table for a $2 donation. fanshawec.ca/fanshawe-live.

The Market at Western Fair is open Saturdays (8am–3pm) and Sundays (10am–2pm) every week. Market Manager Dan Ross and Assistant Manager Courtney Berens continue to grow attendance and improve the customer experience. Two floors and 100+ vendors make up the Market, each with unique products. Help support local and include @TheMarketWFD and use ­#MeetMeAtTheMarket when sharing on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. westernfairdistrict.com/market 

Chef Andrew Wolwowicz’s commitment to freshness and the provenance of what is on the plate is one of the cornerstones of Craft Farmacy’s culinary philosophy. The focus is on craft beer, cocktails, a large selection of fresh oysters, shellfish and inspired rustic farm-to-table cuisine. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday–Saturday, and Sundays for a prix fixe brunch and dinner. 449 Wharncliffe Rd, just north of Baseline. facebook.com/craftfarmacy

Chef Angie Murphy and partner/sommelier Pete Annson have had some delays opening Grace, located at the southwest corner of Clarence and Dundas Streets. facebook.com/graceLDNONT/

Field to Fork Caterer Chef Chad Stewart graduated college with Culinary Arts and Food & Beverage diplomas. In 2010, he moved to Vancouver to work at elite restaurants for the Olympics, including the first true 100-mile kitchen called Rain City Grill. Stewart worked at Garlic’s of London for five years and moved up the ranks to head chef. For the last three years, Stewart has been a caterer and part time technician for Fanshawe’s Culinary Management Program. Now Stewart and his wife Catherine are launching London’s newest food truck, the Field to Truck Mobile Eatery, just in time for the JUNO Awards. fieldtoforkcatering.ca

Welcome Reset Social Cafe to downtown London! This is a new hot-spot for fresh food, coffee and premium juices, under the Azure condo building at 503 Talbot St. The vibrant setting makes for a perfect spot to recharge, relax and reset your day. resetsocial.cafe

Anita Tasonyi and Eduard Nagy are now operating Budapest Restaurant and making upgrades to the iconic gem. Protégés of the late Marika Hayek, they continue to delight clients by serving authentic Hungarian specialities in this traditional old-world tavern setting. Try the schnitzel or the stuffed veal — the spätzle and goulash are also delicious — and save room for the palacsinta. 348 Dundas St., 519-439-3431

Jess Jazey-Spoelstra’s River Room, inside Museum London, has banks of tinted windows with panoramic views overlooking the Forks of the Thames. With a clubby ambience, tailored décor and charming attitude, The River Room is open for lunch Tuesday–Friday, and Sundays for a prix fixe brunch. Museum London, Ridout St. N. northmoore.ca/theriverroom

Rio Brazilian Steakhouse, located in one of London’s most historic buildings, boasts a kitchen at the top of its game. Doors open for their “rodizio” — all-you-can-eat churrascaria served tableside by charming gauchos — and an extensive selection of sides at 5pm daily. 45 King Street (at Ridout), rio.london

Restaurateur and community leader Heidi Vamvalis is a pillar of hospitality, and has been serving Greek/Mediterranean cuisine and traditional English fish & chips with her husband Bill for over 40 years at beloved Mykonos Restaurant. Mykonos sports a festive covered patio that is heated during the cooler weather. The Mykonos Platter with moussaka, pastichio, souvlaki, tsaziki, tiropitaki, spanakopita, loukanica and dolmathaki is outstanding. 572 Adelaide Street N., 519-434-6736, mykonosrestaurant.ca

Abruzzi Ristorante is an up-to-date epicurean hot spot serving both modern and emblematic regional Italian specialties. Owners Rob D’Amico and Chef Dave Lamer’s offerings are intuitive, often iconic, and prepared with locally-sourced and quality ethnic ingredients, supported by a superior wine list featuring interesting consignments. 119 King St., abruzzi.ca

Barbara Czyz’s success with Unique Food Attitude is due to excellent modern European cuisine, creative chalkboard offerings, and an attentive vibe. Specialties include bigos, Polish poutine, goulash with potato pancakes, slow-cooked cabbage rolls, and peirogi with sweet and savoury fillings. 697 Dundas St., 519-649-2225, unique-food-attitudes.com

Chef/restaurateur T.G. Haile of T.G.’s Addis Ababa Restaurant embodies the art of hospitality and entrepreneurism. She is dedicated to supporting meaningful cultural and charitable initiatives and events, despite being a busy hands-on restaurateur who does all of the cooking at her restaurant. Be sure to put TG’s Ethiopian breakfast on your list for a great culinary adventure on Sundays. 465 Dundas St. (at Maitland), 519-433-4222, tgsaddisababarestaurant.com

Jill’s Table is London’s paramount purveyor of fine foods and an award-winning specialty food and kitchen store in downtown London. Owner Jill Wilcox is an amazing culinary resource — supportive, knowledgeable and a leader in promoting the local food community. For more than 23 years, Wilcox has been leading cooking classes, now at Jill’s Table, and has been a food columnist for the London Free Press and Post Media for more than 38 years. jillstable.ca

Chef Ashton Gillespie’s latest venture is The Dinner Table ­— a pop-up restaurant series. Meals are served at a communal table so anyone who enjoys great service and delicious food are encouraged to join them for a variety of themed dinners. facebook.com/popupthedinnertable

PC Cooking Schools at Superstore offer one-hour weekly daytime “What’s for Dinner?” classes on Thursdays. Oxford & Gammage 12:30–1:30 pm or Oxford & Hyde Park Road 1–2pm. Gammage location classes will include “A Serbian Feast” with Paul Abeleira on March 5, 6:30–8:30 pm; “Indian Food to Fight Winter Chills” with Jasjit on March 24, 1–3pm; “Cinco de Mayo” with Chef Barbara Toomer, April 19, 6:30–8:30 pm; and “Flavours of the Far East” with Chef Mies Bervoets, April 30, 6:30–8:30pm. The Hyde Park Road location offers “Fruitful Dining” with Jamie Chowns, March 14, 6:30–8:30pm; “Cinco de Mayo” with Chef Barbara Toomer, March 26, 6:30–8:30pm; and “Indian Seafood Sensations” with Ankita Vaidya, April 23, 6:30-8:30 pm. Sign up for any PC Cooking classes at customer service in-stores or online. pccookingschool.ca

The 2nd annual London I Love BEER Festival: The Taco Edition is coming to the London Convention Centre on March 23 for a night of Ontario beer, cider, spirits and tacos. Cheers! iheartbeer.ca/london/

Michelle Pierce Hamilton is sponsoring London’s first Tea & Kombucha Festival on Saturday, March 30 at the London Public Library Central Branch (Wolf Performance Hall and meeting spaces). The Tea Guild of Canada is a co-sponsor, providing expertise, resources, and volunteers. The spirit of this venture is to grow tea culture by showcasing London and areas’ independent tea and kombucha businesses. There will be a strong lineup of engaging skill-building workshops and speakers, including focused tea tastings by certified tea sommelier Karen Hardwick and Tea Haus owner Stefanie Stolzel. londonteafestival.ca 

Twenty new coaches emerged from the experiential tourism “Train the Trainer” course hosted by SWOTC and guru Celes Davar at The Tap Room above The Root Cellar, a ground-breaking gathering of tourism marketers and “experience” partners, all grads of the “Unlocked & Inspired” experiential tourism training. A Slow Food-inspired evening, with a craft beer pairing by Nate Torrresan of Forked River Brewing Co., was facilitated by Bryan Lavery and emceed by Nick Lavery of the Lavery Culinary Group with Chef Thomas Waite of The In Home Chef and Chef Ashton Gillespie of The Dinner Table. Speakers Gary Rowsell and Emanuela Frongia spoke about the Slow Food movement and its exciting Canadian Ark of Taste.

Chaucer’s Pub (sibling to Marienbad next door)is among the longest continuously-operating hospitality businesses in downtown London and will be celebrating a 40th anniversary later this year. A local historian tells us “it is the only non-private pub/bar in London that does not have a TV screen in your face. (Up the art of conversation!).” marienbad.ca

Congratulations to Alieska Robles and the amazing Forest City Cookbook team! The ambitious project that inspired London’s culinary community can now be called “an international award-winning cookbook,” as the Canadian winner of the 2019 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in two categories: “Best Self-Published Book in English in Canada” and “Best Digital Book for Sale in Canada.” forestcitycookbook.com/shop/ebook 

Meaghan Biddle (manager, barista and coffee educator) and Alastair Smyth (barista) of Locomotive Espresso will be competing in the Canadian National Barista Championships the weekend of March 15–17 in Toronto. Good luck! locomotiveespresso.com

Mama Chena Coffee Co. is Alberto Sepulveda’s coffee business based in London. Importing green coffee beans from the family farm and others on the north coast of Colombia, along the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, they supply direct trade green coffee beans to a number of southwestern Ontario roasters who help share their story. Clients include O-Joe Coffee (Mt. Brydges), Blackwater Coffee Co. (Sarnia), Chance Coffee (Windsor), Coastal Coffee Co. (Zurich, Ontario), Patrick’s Beans (London), Hasbeans (London), CommonWealth Coffee (London), Stratford Coffee Co. (Stratford), and Smile Tiger (Kitchener). mamachena.com

The new culinary team at Dundas St.’s The Root Cellar remains committed to forging meaningful relationships with local, organic, and sustainable farms in Southwestern Ontario with worker-owned On the Move Organics, which continues to expand the network of organic farmers and producers they work with. Look for the new On the Move Organics location at The Market at Western Fair. onthemoveorganics.ca

Shelbys Food Express on Horton Street has taken the city by storm with generous servings of traditional and fusion Middle Eastern cuisine. Now there is a new sibling — Bistro 644 — on Richmond Row, in the space previously occupied by Sakata at 644 Richmond Street. shelbysfoodexpress.com

At the new Quebec-based Copper Branch on Richmond Row, they’re offering a 100% plant-based power food menu. Chef-inspired menu items include power bowls, burgers, sandwiches, all-day breakfast, power smoothies, organic coffees and teas, and all-natural beverages. CopperBranch.ca 

Chris MacGregor and Valentino “Val” De Franco have opened up a new Shoeless Joe’s restaurant franchise at 89 King St., across from Budweiser Gardens. Expect an urban feel, with a sports bar focus. “We’re going to be open late,” says MacGregor. “So even after the London Knights have played or a concert has let out, patrons can come over for drinks and great food.” shoelessjoes.ca. 


In Memoriam

Angelo Stavrou, 1943–2019
Owner of Merla Mae Ice Cream, London

He was owner of a number of successful businesses, but became beloved by ice cream lovers young and old when he stepped in to save a London institution in 1998. Angelo Stavrou remained hands on at Merla Mae Ice Cream until his recent battle with cancer, arriving early every day to do whatever needed doing. “Always give more than what the portion sizes are,” he instructed his daughter Roula Dereza, who carries on at Merla Mae. “He loved taking care of his customers,” said Roula. “He was on top of his business. And a family man like no other.” Angelo Stavrou will be sadly missed. 


 

Stratford

For 35 years, Stratford Chefs School, a not-for-profit career college focused on innovative, hands-on training of high quality, aspiring chefs and culinary entrepreneurs, has set the standard of excellence for culinary training in Canada. In addition to its renowned 32-week professional cookery program, the School recently launched a unique 16-week “Cook: Basic – Level 1 Diploma” program to run June 3–September 20. Teaching the basics of classical cookery and pastry coupled with theory classes focused on cuisine and hospitality, this program is perfect for those embarking on a second career or interested in fast-tracking culinary goals. stratfordchef.com/summer-program

Interested in more recreational cooking classes? Stratford Chefs School continues its Open Kitchen program from March–October, devoted to home cooks and food-lovers looking for hands-on, skill-building classes that are informative and fun. $35 to $85 per session. stratfordchef.com/open-kitchen

Herald Haus Brewing Co. is now open, in the extensively refurbished historic Herald building at 21 Market Place, former headquarters of The Stratford Herald newspaper. Owned and operated by Daniel J. Graver, the team includes head brewer Jeff Macdonald and assistant brewer John Zippel. Drop by the taproom for expertly poured pints, cans for purchase and an exclusive menu prepared by The Hub kitchen team next door. heraldhaus.com

Old Man & Son, launched by Jessie Votary and the folks at The Red Rabbit and Okazu 85 Downie as another opportunity to offer fair wages and year round employment, is open for breakfast and lunch. Early risers (open at 7am) can expect super fluffy pancakes, smoked bacon and sausage, avocado toast and other honest fare with delicious twists. Lunch includes an interesting selection of burgers and sandwiches. 75 Wellington St., 519-305-7575, oldmanandson.com 

Steve Walters’ mission is to create a more optimistic future through the world of food. The Hub Fine Foods & Market will open this spring in the former location of Bard’s, followed by The Hub Butchery. Walters, as Agency Creative Director of the market, promises a bakery, freshly prepared foods, specialty and local products and fresh produce — “a welcome destination for the food enthusiast.” 

The Restaurant at The Bruce is hosting two special events in March. Savour Afternoon Tea on March 10, with a delectable mix of traditional and New Canadiana nibbles served alongside a choice of 20 loose leaf teas curated by their certified tea sommelier. A Sugar Shack Dinner will be held on March 23, with each of five courses “maple-inspired” with all local Canadian ingredients. Reservations required. And don’t forget the Bruce’s Local Nights on Mondays. Enjoy an an innovative menu at a super price. visitstratford.ca/partner/The-Bruce-Restaurant 

Weather permitting, the annual Swan Parade/Release will officially begin at 2pm on April 7, but the family fun runs noon–3pm with carriage rides, street performers and a quest for decorated pop-up swan topiaries. Make your way downtown to Lakeside Drive where the swans are led by the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums. visitstratford.ca/swans 

Puck’s Plenty Early Spring Foraging begins April 20 with naturalist/forager Peter Blush. Search forest trails for wild edibles and learn to harvest these delicious gems of nature sustainably. Recipes will also be supplied. 96 Birmingham St., 10am–1pm, $35. Call 519 271-3726 to reserve your space.

The Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop hosts a “This Cheese, That Wine” tasting and pairing event on April 6. visitstratford.ca/partner/The-Milky-Whey-Fine-Cheese-Shop 

Stop by Junction 56 Distillery on a Saturday (11am–noon) for a lively and informative tour. Be sure to try Sugar Shack, maple-flavoured moonshine, as well as Fireshine (cinnamon) and Eclipse (anise) flavours, just three of several wonderful flavours offered. The award-winning distillery also specializes in vodka and gin. 45 Cambria St., $15, junction56.ca

The Slow Food Perth County Sunday Market runs 10am–2pm indoors at downtown Festival Marketplace Mall until May, when it moves to the Market Square at City Hall. You’ll find local produce, bread, soup, sweets, soap, healthy treats, crafty things, lacto-fermented foods, cheese, grass-fed meats and garden seeds. .slowfoodperthcounty.ca 

Stratford Farmers’ Market, a year-round market operating since 1855, offers fresh produce, crafts, meat and cheese at Stratford Rotary Complex-Agriplex, 353 McCarthy Rd, Saturdays 7 am–12 noon. 519-271-5130. www.stratfordfairgrounds.com 

Revival House is serving Winter/Spring dinners Thursday–Saturday and a Weekend Brunch 11am–2pm both days. A special Brunch Buffet will be offered celebrating Easter (April 21) and Mother’s Day (May 12) from 10am–2pm. Reservations recommended.

Revival House is also serving up amazing live entertainment. The Stratford Symphony Orchestra presents more of the Classical Brunch series on Sundays April 14 and May 5 at 11:30am. The $40 admission includes a special brunch menu, musical performance and a $20 tax receipt (stratfordsymphonyorchestra.ca). Jully Black, “Canada’s Queen of R&B Soul” (CBC Music) will grace the Revival House stage for a show with her full band on Thursday, March 14. A Celtic Celebration concert will be hosted by Stratford’s own Rant Maggie Rant with a 2pm matinee performance on St Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17. Toronto’s Neil Young’uns return March 30, bring the audience “the closest you’ll ever get to the real Neil!” On Saturday, April 13, guests will groove to the 10-piece new roots reggae band The Human Rights. Two-time JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter Hawksley Workman brings his signature blend of anthemic folk and show-stopping vocals for one special night on May 21.

Revival House offers limited pre-concert preferred seating. Enjoy dinner and the show from your seat! 519-273-3424, www.revival.house 

Around the Region

McCully’s Hill Farm hosts a weekly Maple Syrup Festival in March. Sugar Bush Tours include a wagon ride through the sugar bush, a guided tour of our sugar shack and a visit with the farm animals. Enjoy Pancake Brunch served with McCully’s own maple syrup, McCully’s own maple pork sausage and maple baked beans and fruit. 10:30am–2pm, Saturdays and Sundays in March, 4074 Perth Line 9. 519 284-2564, visitstratford.ca/partner/McCullys-Hill-Farm 

Grand Bend’s Dark Horse Winery is hosting a St. Paddy’s Day celebration on March 17. visitstratford.ca/partner/Dark-Horse-Estate-Winery 

Tillsonburg’s Ottercreek Woodworks, founded by carpenter and craftsman Dave Schonberger, uses only local, sustainably-harvested hardwoods to fashion distinctive live-edge charcuterie boards. Popular “Tree to Table” board-making workshops are also offered. ottercreekwoodworks.myshopify.com

Steelhead Food Co. recently moved into their own processing facility and are excited to offer fresh locally processed fish that is cleaned, cut and processed in-house. Based in St. Thomas, they offer a huge selection of premium quality fish and seafood — fresh, frozen, and smoked — to most of southwestern Ontario. steelheadfoodco.ca 

Ride the Bine provides local beer, wine, and cider tours. With a goal to get people closer to their food’s origins — owners Amanda Dooney and Susan Judd grew up on farms — Ride the Bine’s fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters provide a safe and easy way to get to some of the coolest spots in Southwestern Ontario. Launched in Norfolk County with great success, Ride the Bine is expanding and now also showcases many London and surrounding area gems. ridethebine.com/london-tours

The Village Teapot in Ilderton (see story this issue) continues their popular home-cooked Sunday Roasts with all the trimmings. Service is from noon–2pm and 5pm–7pm for $18.95 per person, and only $9.95 for children under 12. On April 7, there is Roast Chicken; May 12 (Mother’s Day, open evening only) is Roast Lamb; May 26 is Roast Beef; and June 16 (Father’s Day) is Prime Rib at $24.95. Vegetarian options are also available. Reservations are required. 519-298-TEAS (8327)

The Bayfield Public House, the restaurant of the Bayfield Brewing Co. and adjacent to their soon-to-open Tap Room, is now open. Historical charm meets craft beer and a unique dining experience, with feature beers like their own Canadian Pale Ale paired with gourmet dishes, delectable desserts, and cannot-miss specials. bayfieldbrewingco.com

The 2019 Terroir Symposium in downtown Toronto will explore the choices we make and how they affect the growth, change and collective identity of the hospitality, food and beverage industry. The always-rewarding annual event will offer more main stage programming with 12-minute talks, two in-depth panel discussions, and six industry-focused workshops. terroirsymposium.com/overview   

 

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The Editors

The Editors