By Derek Morrison
1. The Tasting Room – With 22 sessions over the course of the event, The Tasting Room was the place to be at Taste of Toronto. The interactive wine classes offered visitors an opportunity to expand their wine knowledge with tips on food pairings, cellaring and more. The classes were lead by experts and winemakers from around the world. Each session cost 6 crowns (6 dollars) and sign up was a first come first serve basis, with people literally waiting hours for their time to arrive. The fact the class was offered in a cool dark room helped draw guests in under the scorching weekend afternoon heat.
2. Metro Master Class – First hand training and instructions from the city’s top chefs? No wonder the Master Chef pavilion was full all weekend. 19 of the signature chefs from around the city had the opportunity to lead a cooking class in 30 minute sessions, where guests were taught how to teach a signature meal from their menu. The first session on Saturday afternoon featured Ben Heaton, from The Grove, leading a class in making his devilled Kidney’s on Toast. The best part? After the class was complete, all those in attendance had an opportunity to eat their creation, and then also purchase all the ingredients from Metro Market & Lounge so they could try their newfound recipes at home. All ingredients obviously provided by the title sponsor of the class, Metro.
3. Barque Smokehouse – Their signature item at the event was the Barque Rack O’Bama (get it?). Which is the smokehouse’s signature baby back ribs, served with a potato corn and candied smoked bacon salad, with a pickled vegetable on the side. The ribs cost 10 crowns ($10 dollars), which is the top priced item on their menu, but that did not stop the patrons from standing in a long line at their booth all day to get their hands on them. Definitely the most sought after item at the show.
4. Patria – Each restaurant was told they would be provided with a booth for set up and they could do whatever they wanted to dress it up and draw people in. Well, Patria may have been the most creative by creating a way to draw the crowd in for their signature Seafood Paella. The restaurant installed a ‘Paella Countdown Clock’, which displayed how long until the next batch of paella would be ready for customers. Once the clock began to tick below the 10 minute mark, the line up would begin to form around the booth as people would anxiously await to try the paella that had been visually building with anticipation for the better part of an hour. Guerrilla advertising working at its finest!
5. Rose & Sons – Over the last two years, Anthony Rose has built up his reputation as a leader in the Toronto restaurant game, with three new additions to the dining scene, that have all been hits – Rose & Sons, Big Crow and Fat Pasha. But it’s not often tasting items from all three menus can be done at one spot. But that is exactly what Rose was able to accomplish with his booth, as he provided menu items from each restaurant at his booth.