Category Archives: Lifestyles

URBANSOURCE CELEBRATES 30YRS OF CATERING TO TORONTO’S DISCERNING FOODIES

Bravo and a big standing O to Toronto’s URBANSOURCE CATERING who, this month, celebrate 30 successful years in one of the most volatile and difficult to crack service industries – event catering.  Starting off with a modest yet stylish storefront on Yonge St at Davisville, founders CALVIN HAMBROOK (below right) and WAYNE ABELL (below left), have built up a loyal following of corporate, private and fundraising clients who sing their praises and re-book year after year, and a professional staff who delivers 5-star service at every event.

1091 The 2 Crazy Owners Opening DayAfter moving to the larger 396 Queen St East with its big commercial kitchen in January of 1990, the business expanded with more staff being brought on board then, when the space next door at #400 became available in late 2012, Calvin and Wayne took that over, opening a stunning art gallery (www.UrbanGallery.ca) with exhibitions curated by Toronto artist, Allen Shugar. The gallery hosts monthly artist events plus can be used as a private party/dining venue.

Calvin Wayne & AllenCalvin, Wayne & Allen (above L to R)

I had a chance to chat briefly with Calvin the other week, who gave me a brief overview of the evolution of UrbanSource Catering – here’s our conversation which is, perhaps, a great lesson on how to build a thriving business while maintaining high standards of service and always delivering a quality product.

Calvin, any personal thoughts on the significance of reaching this milestone with your business? Over the past 30 years, what we’ve learned is the importance of not only giving our clients the best food, and service, but creating a thriving environment for all our staff. We see and appreciate the talents and work ethic our staff bring to our company, both on and off-site. Permitting our staff to grow professionally and bring their own energy and talents to the table helped us become a responsive company that can cater to a broad spectrum of events. It lets us bring enthusiasm and passion to every dish we serve, every party we staff and every event we plan. That’s something our customers can attest to – and this is how you stay successful for 30 years.

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WWP-7200Weddings are such big business now – how have you seen catering for weddings evolve over the past 30 years…and are you seeing any changes ahead for this season’s wedding banquets?  Weddings have evolved in many ways over the past 30 years, yet in many other ways they are the same. Many couples are much more interested in being ‘hands-on’ these days, and look for a more personalized event. But it is still a big undertaking for them, whether it’s a small reception or a big event. Often it’s the first time they’ve had to plan anything as elaborate as a Wedding Reception – and our team of consultants keep everyone sane and happy – and actually enjoy their Wedding!  Our Wedding consultant, Kaspara Albertsen, has guided many couples through the whole planning stage, and helped them overcome hurdles to get the wedding they’ve dreamed of!

IMG_0163 Leek Wrapped Tilapia

BeefFennelCroustini party table

Knowing that Urban can supply full on-site service staff, how important is having professional cater waiters/service staff at an event? Having professional staff at an event saves you headaches and stress –our Staff Manager Jean-Marc Fontaine hears from our clients often, how they ‘couldn’t have done it without our staff’ or ‘Thank you for sending me xxx, they understood my party and my guests’. That’s the difference between throwing a party and being a GUEST at your own party!

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IMG_0320 You have an exciting and innovative Exec. Chef, Lyndon Wiebe – what does he bring to UrbanSource? Lyndon (below) has cooked and traveled the world, and he has a great ‘taste memory’ of things he’s tried. He can make the classic dishes – as well as our 30 Years of Urban Classics  – but he is always introducing new and delicious dishes for us to offer to our clients.

Lyndo- HEAD SHOT6Each year, Urban supports a number of worthy charitable events – which ones and why?  We recognize the need to give back to our community, and Toronto is one of the most charitable cities anywhere. We support so many worthwhile charities: Assaulted Women’s Helpline, Fife House, Surrey Place, Casey House, Inside Out,  Nellie’s Shelter, Toronto United Church’s Heart & Vision and many area Hospitals and charity fundraisers.

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IMG_0975 US-25 Any suggestions/recommendations for people planning weddings, corporate events or personal dining parties to create the best experience for their guests?  We suggest they make a list of all the items they can think of that they will need to provide for the event, assign an estimate of $$$ and a timeline. This will help them plan their budget, and how many guests they want to invite. If they see that this will be more than they can manage, either time-wise or budget-wise, they will save themselves a lot of headache, heartache and energy. This also makes them a much better-educated client, and will help them choose a caterer that meets their particular needs.

IMG_0063And what food trends do you see coming our way over the next year or so?  Street food, homestyle menus and ethnic dishes, especially South Asian and South & Central American. And more vegan, gluten-free and green-sourced foods, pickled vegetables, and house-butchered meats, artisanal foods….people are really embracing locally-sourced foods.

Seared salmon stackwasabi tuna canap+¬

If you’d like to experience what 30 years of successful catering and event planning can do for your next special event, dinner, gala or fundraiser, contact UrbanSource Catering for a quote: http://www.urbancatering.com/

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CONGRATULATIONS TO CALVIN, WAYNE and THE FABULOUS STAFF @ URBANSOURCE CATERING…wishing you another 30 years of delicious success!

2015 Decal Tourism Toronto

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DISTILLERY DISTRICT ALL DRESSED UP TO SHOWCASE EVENT FACILITIES

Yesterday, Sunday March 1st, I spent a glorious hour or two experiencing the fabulous decor, event services, entertainment and …..gulp…FOOD offered in the DISTILLERY EVENTS showcase at the Fermenting Cellar in Toronto’s historic Distillery District. And, boy, did they deliver the goods!

20150301_135121I’ve attended numerous Leslieville Flea events at the Fermenting Cellar but have never seen it dressed up so beautifully, all courtesy of the on-site Events division of the venue management. The event was promoted as a Wedding Open House, showcasing a number of “preferred suppliers” of wedding gowns, custom tuxes, music, floral arrangements, wines, etc. but as an event producer/planner for corporate and private functions, it was a great way for me to check out how stunning this huge open turn-of-the-century warehouse space could look with some fancy lights, furniture, flowers and filled with happy well-fed people.

20150301_140812 20150301_142925 20150301_143131 20150301_143156The food was phenomenal…never have I attended a free industry event where they doled out the King Crab legs so freely, along with juicy tender (and big) lamb chops, Thai shrimp, oysters, gourmet Mexican tacos…even my fave Portuguese custard tarts!!

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20150301_142344 20150301_134706 20150301_135246 20150301_141223 20150301_141206The entire space was glittering and shimmering with twinkling lights and stunning floral sculptures…I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it all.

20150301_140734 20150301_140625 20150301_142131 20150301_143119My favourite vignette was this huge stunning vase placed in a wall nook (below)…love love love this.

20150301_140723Met Mallory (below), the charming wedding consultant from GOTSTYLE, the chic menswear store that offers custom tux jackets and, as Mallory says, the best accessory for a bride is a well styled groom. GOTSTYLE showed everyone how to do just that!  http://www.shop.gotstyle.ca 

20150301_141916Frank Correnti Cigars had a couple of cigar rollers there, too (below) who were busy crafting the leaves into large fragrant cigars.  http://www.correnticigars.com

20150301_140841Big thank you to my dear friends over at Urban Gallery/UrbanSource Catering who gave me the ticket. And bravo to all at Distillery Events for a well-produced event – the staff was lovely, welcoming and took very care of us all. I highly recommend the Fermenting Cellar for your wedding or other celebration so contact Distillery Events to get the 411. http://www.distilleryevents.com 

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THE LITTLE TORONTO NEWS SITE THAT COULD – MEET PUBLISHER KJ MULLINS OF NEWZ4U.NET

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to one of Toronto’s unsung heroes, a woman who launched a news site that champions the underdog stories and gives a voice to those causes and issues that don’t get much exposure in mainstream media due to their lack of media “sexiness” or mass appeal. These are the stories that confront day-to-day life and issues in the naked city.  KJ Mullins is passionate about Toronto and her neighbours, and publishes her daily NEWZ4U.NET e-newspaper with the help of talented reporters and photographers dedicated to bringing the real news to you without corporate or advertiser “filters” and without fluff or filler content.

I recently sat down with KJ and asked her to tell us all about NEWZ4U.net and what prompted her to create the site.

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Tell us a little about KJ Mullins – what is your personal journalism/business background?
KJ: I started out in college on the journalism track but went to drama/psy instead. Ten years ago after other jobs and being a stay at home mom, I got the writing bug again and this time went full steam.  One of the first articles I wrote back in college helped to bring forth positive changes for disabled students rather quickly, and seeing that I could make a difference was really powerful.

KJ MullinsWhen was your website first launched?
KJ: I launched NEWZ4U.NET on May 12, 2010.

What first inspired you to create Newz4U & what news niche wasn’t being fulfilled by the national newspapers?
KJ: I wanted to get my voice out there and the voices of others who may not fit into the mainstream model. Social issues like homelessness, poverty, LGBT issues and the arts are often overlooked in the mainstream because if it’s not a ‘front and centre’ story it isn’t sexy. The same is true with stories on the city’s front line responders – in mainstream media the motto of if it bleeds it leads also means that stories about good works aren’t covered. It’s rare to find articles about the various Kops and Kids programs that do curb youth violence.

homeless porter_002 DSCF8097How did you source your first news items?
KJ: We have always sourced our news items in the same way; with on the scene and through interviewing with fact checking. We also use reliable newswires for additional coverage. 

What sort of feedback did you receive from readers once the first few editions were e-published?
KJ: Knock on wood, from the beginning we’ve had positive feedback. For the readers who had personal issues in the city like a pot hole appearing and reappearing at their Toronto Community Housing building which we helped to bring positive results, the feedback was extremely positive.

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DSCF0879Who are your readers and how do you reach them?
KJ: Our readers are mostly from Toronto and are generally 25+, evenly mixed between genders. Most have university educations and many are movers and shakers. They are interested in social change and the arts.

DSCF3761As a web-based news source, what sort of reach does Newz4U enjoy?
KJ: In 2014 we had over 449K readers who read over 2.4 million articles. We average 31K monthly readers going through 146K articles.

What stories do you look for?
KJ: We are always looking for new stories about social issues. Fresh produce in the city, and childhood hunger is a current issue we are tackling hard. In Canada’s largest business city it is mind-blowing how many go to bed hungry every night or haven’t got a bed to sleep in. We’ve covered Pride and the Caribbean Festival for several years, looking into the areas that aren’t touched by mainstream.

DSCF2517The arts are also a strong interest for us. We cover as many events, big and small, as possible. Right now we are working on the RBC Taylor Prize and the Lionel Gelber Prize, both covering Canadian non-fiction literature. Each shortlisted book is read and reviewed prior to the prize announcements. It’s a lot of work but promoting our Canadian authors is very important. These men and women are putting forth some amazing work. Photography, fine arts and music are also a prime focus. We hope to be at the Junos this year with one of our newest writers whose focus is music.

DSCF8833 DSCF6408We will also be covering sports at the Pan Am Games. Our sports photographer, Hugh McClean, has been covering soccer and rugby in the past year, two sports that get very little coverage in the city.

?????????????????????Do you offer sponsored pages or ad space and if so, what is the range of $s?
KJ: This is a hard one for us but yes we do have ad space. Ads run from $25 to $150 a month depending on placement. We have plans to change up our layout in mid-March/early-April that will allow for pages to be sponsored as well. Prices for this are still in the works.

We also have a sponsorship program which gives ‘free’ ad space for Toronto small businesses. Our Angel sponsors keep us going and growing.

NEWZ4U.NET gives back to the community by offering local grassroots and small charities space for promoting themselves and their events for FREE.

How do people reach you for editorial coverage and/or advertising?
KJ: We are always available via email at editor@newz4u.net. We respond within 24 hours Monday-Friday. You can always get in touch with me personally on Twitter @kjjournalist.

20141018_143931Above photo: G.J. Fordham

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ICEFEST TAKES OVER YORKVILLE (Toronto) FEB 21 & 22.

BIA-IceFest2015-eBlast-600x270For the past 10 years, the folks at the Bloor-Yorkville BIA have hosted a fun family festival of all things winter in the heart of Yorkville Village, featuring ice sculpting, entertainment, hot food and drinks, all sorts of interactive fun for all the family, tons of great shopping and lots of pretty lights at night.  This year’s theme will be “ancient Egypt” so they’re inviting everyone to come “walk like an Egyptian” around Toronto’s premier tourist & cultural hub, Yorkville, on Saturday February 21st & Sunday February 22nd. “Frozen in Time” is an ancient Egyptian-inspired showcase of ice carvings including a 3D  pyramid, plus depictions of  Egyptian gods and pharaohs including Anubis, Iris and King Tut.  There will also be a giant interactive ice carving of sitting camel where visitors will be able to get their photos taken as a keepsake.

424U2559Open to the public each day between noon – 5 pm, the Village of Yorkville Park and Cumberland Street will be the centre of Icefest attractions, with additional ice carving demonstrations taking place throughout the neighbourhood.

424U2193 (2) 424U2203 424U2288On Saturday, February 21st starting at 12 noon, the 15th Annual Sassafraz Ice Carving Competition will take place at the east side of the Village of Yorkville Park.  Twelve ice carvers from across Ontario will compete for the People’s Choice Sculpture Award! As great masterpieces begin to emerge beneath the picks, chisels and chainsaws of the talented carvers, visitors will cast their vote for their favourite ice carving sculpture throughout the afternoon. Winners will be announced at 5:15 pm that day.

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424U2225 424U2389Last year, I found the dolphin from HydraSense who was posing for photos so I just had to get in there myself, too!

424U2169 (2) Gwith sharkAs February is Heart Month, Bloor-Yorkville will be fundraising with participating partners and sponsors in support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation. For a $2 charitable donation, “Kiddie Ice Cubes” will be distributed each day at 2 pm, in the Village of Yorkville Park with a collectible toy inside. Patrons will also be able to sample tasty Maple Syrup Taffy from 1 pm ­ 4 pm each day on Cumberland Street for a $2 donation. Through IceFest, Bloor-Yorkville has raised over $54,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

20140222_121217424U2247This is an all ages family friendly, FREE event, all you have to do is bring is warm clothes, a hearty winter spirit, and maybe a camera to capture the moments in ice forever!  Photos from last year’s fabulous IceFest courtesy of Henry Lin and a few by me, too.  For further event Info:  http://www.bloor-yorkville.com/icefest/

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STROLL THE AISLES OF TORONTO’S INTERIOR DESIGN SHOW WITH ME

20150123_121519This weekend sees the return of the annual Interior Design Show here in Toronto, and thanks to the generosity of Mark Gleberzon of MJG Gallery (www.mgjgallery.com) I was given access to the show on Professional Trade Day yesterday.  Entering the showroom floor at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, a display of hanging Chinese lanterns set the stage for colour and innovation in home decor and design.  I went to visit Mark first to say thank you and found him with artist, Andrea Rinaldo in the MJG Gallery booth (below).

20150123_131345 20150123_131116Then I grabbed my floor map and set off into the deepest, darkest design jungle. But WOW! what a fantastic journey it was. First up, a stunning lighting display before stopping at the Oceania bathrooms booth. Where’s my soap on a rope?! http://www.oceania-attitude.com/baths
20150123_121749 20150123_121905 20150123_121909Then I had some fun with the lovely booth ladies at http://www.Beauti-Tone.ca (below) who were conducting a pick-your-favourite-colour contest with their paint chips. Thanks for the sparkly lanyard gift, ladies.

20150123_122042 20150123_122336 20150123_122423Walked a few more aisles seeing some gorgeous displays and lots of must have’s if I ever get a new condo (and can afford to dump my 15yr old furniture)

20150123_122705 20150123_122748 20150123_123211 20150123_122524Loved these carved stone sinks and giant bathtub from Stone Forest – https://www.stoneforest.com/kitchen-bath/ Everyone wanted to jump into the giant soaker tub (pictured below).

20150123_123342 20150123_123355 20150123_123419One of my favourite booths was the Urban Barn one featuring a rustic seaside dining room and a luxurious bedroom – visit their sit for more stunning decor ideas:  http://www.urbanbarn.com/

20150123_123453 20150123_123538 20150123_123542 20150123_123713More fabulous lighting…

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20150123_141141..then more fun accessories including these fun (and animal friendly) wildlife heads from http://www.camillahouse.com 

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20150123_125048….and then it was all about the plaid! Had a fun time with the folks from Montauk Sofas

20150123_124704 20150123_124923CaesarStone had a great exhibit – but it was their interactive swing set (for grown-ups) that was the hit of the show. Look who I found at the show….celebrity decorator Ambrose Price.  http://www.caesarstone.ca/en/Pages/default.aspx

20150123_125102 20150123_125421 20150123_125440Look at these gorgeous taps and shower fixtures from http://www.Rubinet.com  Me want….

20150123_125745 20150123_125751 20150123_125809Just loved the Indonesian petrified wood sinks and accessories from the lovely folks at Prehistoric StoneWorks Inc. (pictured below). Everything was very tactile and reminded me of my previous trips to Bali and Jakarta back when I lived in Australia (Bali is to Australians what Ft.Lauderdale is to Canadians!)  Check out all their stunning products at http://www.prehistoricstoneworks.com

20150123_130032 20150123_130043 20150123_130349 20150123_130411I then met the oh so fabulous Elizabeth of Elizabeth Interiors located in Burlington (pictured below) who showed me around her super luxe and livable display booth. I am definitely visiting her store the next time I’m down in Burlington. http://www.elizabethinteriors.com/

20150123_130633 20150123_130811 20150123_130815 20150123_130940More fab booths and displays, then….

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…I found it….AGA!….Agaaaaah. Yes, the olde worlde Brit stove and mainstay of cottage kitchens is here and oh boy, what a step up into the 21st century. They are gorgous and long-ago memories of my mum cursing and swearing at the temperamental fiery beast disappeared and a warm glow rolled over me. The Aga is a marvelous stove/oven for which modern cooks (incl. Martha Stewart) would give eye teeth, an arm and a leg. Check out these incredible units/colours and visit the website for complete information:  http://www.agamarvel.com/

20150123_132200 20150123_132209 20150123_132238 20150123_132249 20150123_132313 20150123_132323More fun pretty things to see and touch…

20150123_132646 20150123_132504Then I walking by a booth that was playing music…an hypnotic mix of modern beats mashed up with Lou Reed’s Take a Walk on the Wildside…so I did. Gorgeous tiles and ceramics (below) ….

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20150123_133839…but the music was coming out of what looked like a small occasional table (below).

20150123_133706It’s called the La Boite Concept (LD Series) from Funktion Furniture & Lighting – a compact multi-speaker unit to which you connect your laptop/iPad and play your tunes with such a superior rich quality that it sounds like a pro club DJ is spinning just for you. I listened, I danced and I chatted with Daniel Fisker from the local contact, Fisker International (pictured below)  http://fiskerintl.com/about.html

20150123_133655As I left the Fisker booth, I ran into some charming design students visiting from La Cite Collegiale in Ottawa, all of whom were excited and inspired by this year’s show. You go, girls, and good luck with your studies.

20150123_133909I walked by a cute booth where a wee one was playing with some toys and proving that good design caters to all ages. The http://www.ellaandelliot.com showcase was adorable and very functional and safe. Definitely a must-see for all fashion-fwd parents visiting the show.

20150123_134029 20150123_134037Lots of contests to win fab furniture – including this booth promoting magazine publisher WallToWall

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The NettHaus Design-Build booth (below) was quite spectacular, all gold and black and shiny. Thanks to the elegant Sherry Larjani, Managing Partner & Architectural Designer, for your hospitality http://www.netthaus.com/

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Then I met the friendly folks at ProGlo Refinishing (below) who can take your old, ugly cabinets and completely make them over with updated designs that will make you smile! Loved these bright happy colours. http://www.kitchenrefinishingtoronto.com

20150123_135124Here’s the lovely lady from MiniGarden that, as the signs say, brings walls to life. Great idea for indoor cultivation of plants, herbs, flowers. Join the urban green revolution at: http://www.minigardening.com

20150123_135314 20150123_135324I then had some fun playing with the bathrooms at the Neo Metro booth. The red sink not only washes your hands, it also dries them with warm air blown out over your hands or whatever else you wanna dangle over the sink!! Loved the illuminated blue sink…forgot to ask them if the toilets lit up, too, for late night tinkles!! http://www.neo-metro.com

20150123_135448 20150123_135521 20150123_135611It was a real pleasure meeting Naomi Neilson Howard (below), the Founder & CEO of Native Trails which features rustic and contemporary designs, copper sinks and fixtures for bath and kitchen…all inspired by the southwest. My photos didn’t do them justice so please check out http://www.nativetrails.net or visit booth #024 at the IDS.

20150123_140459I found Lisa Turner of Vancouver-based Quake Furniture in a section dedicated to individual designers located at the west end of the showroom. Her tables are made from metal, wood, marble…all unique designs and stunning colours. Check out her complete range at http://www.quakefurniture.com

20150123_140715In the same section, I met the creator of Christopher Solar Design who features very clean lines reminiscent of mid-century modern. He has some really great pieces: http://www.christophersolar.com

20150123_141039 20150123_141049And around the next corner I saw the rich imaginative handcrafted furniture of Oliver Drake of http://www.DrakeWoodDesign.com  He uses a lot of found/repurposed wood and listening to Oliver, I could tell he really loves his work.

20150123_141212 20150123_141249So much to see, so much to wish for. I spent about 3 hours wandering around, meeting the brilliant designers, decorators and craftspeople. Definitely a great way to spend your weekend.

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For show times and tickets, visit the official IDS website: http://www.interiordesignshow.com/

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON STROLL AROUND YORKVILLE (Toronto)

Decided to be a “tourist” in my own back yard today. Weather was a bit warmer (balmy compared with Tuesday’s -12!) so I wandered into Williams-Sonoma on Bloor St to meet some of the food artisans who were showcasing their wares.  First off, DAVID MARCUS from DAVID’S CONDIMENTS  www.davidscondiments.com who was sampling his hot’n’spicy rubs, marinades and seasonings.

20150117_131646 20150117_131649 20150117_131653Then I met the cute couple behind BURNER HOT PEPPER SAUCE who were busy heating up the cold shoppers. Check out their online store for all the flavours and levels of heat.  http://burnerpeppersauce.com/shop/

20150117_131614 20150117_131619Next door to Williams-Sonoma is the new Holt Renfrew Men’s store and I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this thru the window….

20150117_131759 20150117_131804 20150117_131908A giant head sculpture by Douglas Coupland called Gumhead – you take a piece of bubblegum from the old-school dispensers, chew it and then stick it on the head. Hmm, I don’t think so, but I did plant a kiss (no tongues!) on the statue for good luck.

I then popped across the street to the Bloor St Market in the Manulife Centre to pick up a few groceries and I found SUMMER’S ICE CREAM being sampled. OMG…..Summer’s is THE best locally made ice cream and I frequently drop into their ice cream parlour on Yorkville Ave for a scoop or two during the summer months. They’re now selling their super deelish treats in tubs in selected grocery stores  http://www.summmersicecream.com

20150117_132742 20150117_132752As I headed back home along Bloor, I walked past the famed STOLLERY’s clothing store at Yonge & Bloor that had recently closed after 114 years and my heart broke to see what was being done to the beautiful building….

20150117_135450 20150117_135441 20150117_135426 20150117_135532… ripping out the beautiful window frames, friezes and stone carvings, as well as peeling off all the copper flashing. Their website  http://www.stollerys.com/ says the store was to close at the end of January but I guess the greedy developers couldn’t wait to get their wrecking balls on this iconic piece of Edwardian architecture.  This makes me sad, angry and very disappointed with the City of Toronto for allowing this to happen yet again to one of our beautiful old buildings.

Hope you liked joining me as I played tourist in my own neighbourhood ….follow my blog for further adventures and scroll down for other cool news and previous events.

 

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WHISKY & SPICE HEATS UP “DAYTIME TORONTO” TV SHOW WITH DEE-LISH COOKING DEMO

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Toronto, Tues. January 6th: Dan Gordon, owner and chef of WHISKY & SPICE, shared some of his secrets to cooking with mustard with Rogers Daytime Toronto host, Val Cole who gave Dan a hand in the kitchen.  The show will air on channel 10 in Toronto on Wednesday Jan. 7th at 10am, 3pm, then again at midnight so you can catch it 3 times – Dan’s recipes are on the Rogers show website as well as on Dan’s site: http://www.whiskyandspice.ca

We got to the studios nice and early, giving Dan lots of time to set up (below)

20150106_114049 20150106_115551 20150106_115614 20150106_115622I got to hang out in the “green room” with the other guests including our guest coordinator, Sam, who met everyone at the door (below)

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First up on the show was awesome dentist, Dr. Jim Hyland (below) who has launched http://www.GumGuardians.com  Dr. Jim sat with me in the green room before he went on, and taught me how proper gum care and correct teeth brushing can not only prevent receding gums but can actually heal existing gum issues.  Brilliant! I recommend you check out his website.

20150106_124527Then Cliff the “Orkin Man(below) told us all about pest control, in particular rats and mice. Val was enthralled with the various new mouse/rat traps Cliff brought in to the studio.

20150106_130014Then it was time for Dan….for a first-time on TV, he did great. He talked about Whisky & Spice, what inspired him to launch the premium artisan mustard business, what goes into making the mustards and where viewers can find the complete line of products – online, at McEwan Fine Foods at the Shops at Don Mills (just 10 minutes from the Rogers studios in North York) as well as the upcoming Leslieville Flea on Sunday Jan. 18th at The Distillery District (see details at end of this story).

20150106_130545 20150106_130909 20150106_131139 20150106_131207 20150106_131216 20150106_122330We then had a couple more segments with other fun guests including the lovely Asil Teebi, owner of  http://www.ReclothModern.ca (below) who talked about updating funky (read: crap) old furniture and turning it into fabulous fashion-fwd furnishings. Recloth Modern is a client of my PR colleague, Peter Ashworth, who hung out with me in the green room.

20150106_132417Then musical artists Heather Hill and Kat Leonard joined Elizabeth Baugh, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada to promote this Thursday’s fundraising concert She’s Listening at the Flying Beaver Pubaret  – see details here:  http://katleonard.com/showtimes-2/

20150106_132724 20150106_133118 20150106_133043Heather was a cheeky monkey as she went in to sound check – she grabbed the mustard and ran!

20150106_114220(0)And finally, back to Dan for plating! Val joined Dan in the kitchen studio as he showed her how to serve up the beef tenderloin, encrusted with mustard, then the mashed potatoes also with mustard, then drizzled mustard vinaigrette dressing on the fresh garden salad….the studio smelled delicious and the crew were licking their lips in anticipation of the feast they were about to enjoy.  He served up a plate to the lovely make-up lady as well as fellow guest Elizabeth Baugh before the crew charged the counter-top!

20150106_133838 20150106_133846 20150106_134525 20150106_134414We can’t thank Val and the crew enough for making the whole experience such a blast for Dan.

20150106_114234Bravo to producer Liz Stembridge, too, for allowing Dan to promote Whisky & Spice sales events and recipes.

20150106_122538Rogers Daytime Toronto TV show:  http://bit.ly/1BFHeit

Leslieville Flea: http://leslievilleflea.com/

http://www.whiskyandspice.ca

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CHEF WHO RAN WILD PRESENTS INT’L PHOTOGRAPHIC ART SHOW & NOT-SO-TAME CATERING

I’m thrilled to announce the upcoming exhibition of LYNDON WIEBE‘s photographic art Lost In Travels: Solitary Confinement at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto, which opens Thurs. January 15th with a special reception for media and art fans.  See: http://www.urbangallery.ca for details

Lyndo- HEAD SHOT6Along with two other chef friends, Lyndon (pictured above) starred in the CHEFS RUN WILD TV series which has been broadcast on APTN and Travel+Escape TV networks in Canada as well as 40 countries worldwide on the National Geographic Channel. On their featured two-year trip, he discovered his love of photography. The photos in this exhibition were taken over several years of travel in Asia, Africa, Canada and New Zealand. The show will run from Jan. 15th to February 28th.

I recently asked Lyndon a few questions about his photography, travel and culinary passions:

What prompted you to undertake your “chefs run wild” reality series & why did you choose to take 2 others with you?
Well, originally we wanted to create our own web-based food and travel series which became Without Borders. We had all been travelling for years and thought this might be our last big epic adventure so we decided to do something different. We were tired of simply travelling and drinking and doing the usual adventures, not that there is anything wrong with it as we did it for years but we wanted to take advantage of our knowledge of food and expand it and come home with a different experience. At the end of the day it would not hurt our resumes or our repertoire of food knowledge. After making over fifty YouTube videos and winning several awards in the U.S. for Best Food & Travel series on the web, we were starting to get noticed and our production value went up. Marcus Samuelsson (who is a well known celebrity chef) used to show our videos all the time on his own website and promote them for us because he loved them. Eventually our footage was bought from us and commissioned into a 15-episode series called Chefs Run Wild here in Canada on the Travel + Escape Network. (Lyndon is pictured below, right)

1380782_10151909619221014_1362482927_nWhat life-changing events did you experience while travelling around the world?
I spent seven years of my life abroad so it’s hard to pinpoint certain experiences. I think in general, all of those experiences helped me become a better person. Traveling taught me patience and understanding. If you have neither you will have a hard time in some countries. It taught me that slow is better and you don’t always need to rush. You appreciate things more when you can actually relax and take it all in. (Masai tribesman, Africa, pictured below)

Invitation Image Masai Tribesman TanzaniaYou’re originally from Winnipeg – what brought you to Toronto?
After travelling and undertaking the Without Borders adventure I decided to move back to Winnipeg. I knew after a few years I had to go to a bigger city, so was set to move to Vancouver to live with my brother on the coast when my producer suggested I move here to Toronto as the TV networks were all here as well as the production studio. So it made sense as we were doing a whole bunch of media interviews and spots to promote the show in Toronto. After moving here to give it a try, I fell in love with the city and have been here for three years now.

When/how did you come to work at UrbanSource Creative Catering?
I started at Urban Source in March of 2011. I had moved to Toronto six months prior to promote the TV show and had been slowly looking for work but no longer wished to work in restaurants – they no longer appealed to me with the long hours and dismal pay. I had done some catering in Calgary before and I liked it so I thought I would send out some resumes to different catering houses. Urban responded and when I went in for an interview, it turns out they were hiring a head chef and I felt up to the task.

How do you describe your cooking style?
Very loose and playful, I would say. I’m not rigid when it comes to following recipes unless it’s baking which  needs a little more attention. I like comfort foods, braised dishes and love smoking my own meats and making my own pickles. I prefer simple, well presented flavours that are evenly matched and not too bold unless they need to be.

ArtofFood14Do you have plans for expanding your culinary skills or do you plan on opening your own restaurant one day?
I try new recipes all the time when I’m at home and at work when the time allows and the ingredients are available in the kitchen. As for my personal ventures, I do love teaching people how to cook and do personal lessons from time to time in the comfort of their own home over a glass of wine. I used to volunteer at The Stop Community food centre teaching kids how to cook in an after-school program and I loved it. As for the immediate future, I will continue to offer lessons and small dinner parties whenever I get the chance.

Your travel photos are stunning and will be shown at Urban Gallery Jan.15 to Feb 28th – how did you select which photos are shown and why?
Going through all of my photos over the years, the ones that really made an impression on me were the ones that gave a sense of loneliness and isolation even in a busy environment, so I decided to choose the ones that put me in that sense of calmness and reflectiveness when I look at them.

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Apart from the large prints hung on the gallery walls, can people purchase other prints?
Absolutely – people can order a smaller print size, if they so choose. This is my first exhibition and if it goes well there will be more to follow.

Any exciting new travels planned for the near future?
My girlfriend and I are off to Cuba for a friend’s wedding in April and other than that, maybe a trip to the Bahamas or somewhere warm with my family this year. I no longer desire the six-month trips abroad. A month is more than enough for me now.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT:  Lost In Travels: Solitary Confinement looks at feelings of isolation in the world around us. Even in a group, we are still alone in our thoughts. Nature can make us feel isolated when it opens itself up to us – the more surreal and beautiful the moment, the more removed from our surroundings we become, lostin thoughts of awe and wonder.    Lyndon Wiebe 2014

Urban Gallery hours:
Monday-Saturday noon  to 5pm
Thursdays noon to 8pm
Closed Sundays & Holidays
400 Queen St East in the historic Corktown district of  downtown Toronto   http://www.urbangallery.ca

UrbanSource Creative Catering: http://www.urbancatering.com/

 

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URBAN GALLERY HOSTS ARTIST RECEPTION FOR ERIK CHONG

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On Saturday Dec. 6th,  Toronto artist ERIK CHONG launches his one-man show, SHIFTING BORDERS: SEEN AND UNSEEN, at URBAN GALLERY (400 Queen St East) with a special reception, greeting friends, family, art fans and local art media. His abstract paintings have hidden images, somewhat resembling architectural blueprints which experiment with geometric and chromatic patterns. The artist’s intention is to force the viewer to question perspective as well as the creative process itself.

20141206_150037(0)The ancient practice of Chinese calligraphy continues to inspire me to push the boundaries into new forms. I use a repetitive brushstroke technique that sometimes carries my paintings to the verge of abstraction. Unlike many of my contemporaries, my appropriation of calligraphy does not simply romanticize the past – rather my creative process explores past, present and future by addressing subject matter both old and new. The purpose of my work is to offer a unique take on the evolution of cultural histories, narratives and identities -and to question these ideas both in a private, personal way and on a public scale.     -Erik Chong, November 2014

20141206_141636 20141206_142225 20141206_142312 20141206_142334 20141206_142352Artist and poet, Brenda Clews, dropped in to wish Erik well (pictured below)

20141206_142250Gallery curator Allen Shugar and gallery coordinator Kaspara Albertsen worked hard on presenting Erik’s work and were very happy with the spectacular results (below)

20141206_142453Gallery manager Calvin Hambrook (below left) readies the camera for taking pics of Erik and his special guests

20141206_142538…and here are Erik’s family and close friends who were first thru the door to celebrate his show.

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20141206_142514 20141206_14235220141206_142324If you would like to enjoy Erik’s work in person, please drop by the gallery (http://www.urbangallery.ca) or view his work on his own website http://www.erikchongfineart.com.  The show runs thru January 10th, 2015.

Gallery hours:
Monday-Saturday 11 AM to 5 PM
Thursdays 11 AM to 8 PM
Closed Sundays & Holidays
Viewings outside gallery hours by appointment
*For Private Receptions & Venue Inquiries please call 647.460-1278*

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“URBAN FOODIE” NIGHT AT URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

Presented by the fabulous folks at URBANSOURCE CATERING, Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY hosted a special “Urban Foodie” event last night presenting some of the most delicious delicacies created by their Executive Chef, LYNDON WIEBE.

2 30thAnjniversary2015I arrived a little early so I could sneak a peek in the kitchen where Chef Lyndon and his crew were busy putting the finishing touches to the canapes (below)

20141120_171631 20141120_171713 20141120_171811…then watched as they were laid out for the soon-to-arrive guests (below)

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20141120_172549 20141120_172617 20141120_173000 20141120_172705The always-fabulous gallery goddess Kaspara vamped for cameras as she tweaked and “fluffed” the food!

20141120_172651And then the guests arrived!

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Visiting food blogger, Linda Matarasso (@aStarvingFoodie) below, posted numerous Instagram & Twit pics, enjoying all the scrumptious treats as well as the stunning photographic art of Karen Silver, whose current show ends Nov. 29th

20141120_175132 20141120_180023 20141120_175814and our talented artist Karen Silver dropped in to enjoy the great food and socializing, below left

20141120_184532Artist, poet and performance artist Brenda Clews (below left) dropped by, too. Brenda hosts monthly poetry salons in the gallery and has previously exhibited her colourful, large format paintings at Urban Gallery.

20141120_184906Then Brenda (with gallery curator, Allen Shugar, below) turned the camera on me!

20141120_185005 GlendaBelow, Wayne Abell, our host-with-the-most, enjoyed welcoming the guests….

20141120_173902….and Catering & Events Mgr, Calvin Hambrook (below right) shared a glass of wine and stories with guests

20141120_185739(0)CHEESY BALLS!  Yaaaaay, they’re back…my favourite “cheesy balls” which are actually delicious risotto balls with warm cheese stuffing made a special appearance, just for me – below

20141120_185502…but the spicy shrimps were also pretty awesome. Simple, delicately spiced with lime, these were gobbled up quickly by very happy guests.

20141120_175648My favourite Canadian wines by Pelee Island Winery were served…

20141120_173328 20141120_173345and the food kept coming….even Whisky & Spice booze-infused mustards made an appearance beside the charcouterie platters.

20141120_181657 20141120_182347But my new all-time favourite has to be this special treat Chef Lyndon prepared…maple candied bacon strips. OMG, they were sooooo good and they disappeared sooooo quickly. At least I managed to grab a few!

20141120_173703 20141120_173731Big thank you to everyone who attended, and thank-you to UrbanSource Catering for showcasing such an amazing selection of holiday hors d’oeuvres, canapes and charcouterie platters, all available from their special festive menus. Find these plus holiday cocktail menus online here: http://www.urbancatering.com/

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