Tag Archives: foodies

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

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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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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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“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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CANADIAN SPECIAL EVENTS “Spring Fling” at METRO TORONTO CONVENTION CTR.

It’s always great to catch up with events industry friends and business colleagues, so yesterday I was ready to walk the aisles at this year’s CANADIAN SPECIAL EVENTS showcase down at the MTCC and it didn’t disappoint.

20140326_112949This year’s event featured a lot of amazing stilt-walkers, courtesy of ZERO GRAVITY CIRCUS [ http://www.zgcircus.com]. The gentleman pictured above was soooo tall, I had to ask him to stoop down in order to capture him with my camera!

First off, I made a b-line straight for my friend Crystal Leochko of BRASH AVENUES  [ http://www.brashavenues.com ] – pictured below (R).

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I’ve followed Crystal for a number of years as she’s grown her incentives and logowear business located in Burlington, ON, and I always recommend Brash Avenues to all my clients for their wide selection of quality items, fast turn-around and speedy delivery. This year, I really liked the cool kitchen utensils that can be logo’d with your corporate i.d., great for all the foodies out there.

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Just along the aisle from Crystal was the EMS group [ http://www.eracademy.com ] – many large event planners forget how important it is to have the EMS team on hand for any medical emergencies. These folks are all certified paramedics and provide customized emergency response plans so if you’re presenting a major sports event or rock concert this year, these are the guys you want on hand.

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The most exciting connection I made was with the iBID representatives Tim and Brandon [www.ibid-events.com ]. iBid is an interactive bidding system using touchscreen & tablet technology that significantly increases the amount of $s raised at fundraising events as guests interact with this fun and exciting online program. This new e-program is really leading edge and I recommend ALL fundraisers check out iBid’s site.

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iBid effectively replaces those old school paper bid sheets and pencils (that always get lost halfway thru a silent auction!) and after watching the demonstration I definitely recommend a personal demonstration from the Toronto rep, Brandon.

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The fun folks at LaROUGE [ http://www.larougeentertainment.com ] showcased some of their cheery entertainers (above).  And I loved the Victorian “steam punk” vibe in the FOS Décor Centre booth (below) [www.fosdecor.com ]

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Every year, I pick up my copy of the TSEvents Guide – the “bible” for special events folks that lists all the venues, caterers, suppliers, A/V companies…all the industry consultants you could ever want. [ http://www.tsevents.com ]

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Woohoo, I met the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit down the next aisle – I want these two at my next party!

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It’s always nice to meet fellow chocolate lovers and the ladies of TIFIDIN (below) offered yummy treats that carried inspirational thoughts and messages, great for sales and marketing meetings, brightening up your employees’ days or distributing to customers. [ http://www.tifidin.com ]

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A good, clean H2O drinking supply is always important at large outdoor events and the folks at WATER-ON-WHEELS deliver the best. [ http://www.wateronwheels.ca ] I’ve used them myself and can recommend them for all your sports, music or other outdoor festivals.

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Nice to run into old friend Terry Holdershaw pictured below of SCOTIA ENTERTAINMENT [www.ScotiaEntertainment.com] whose string quartet entertained on the main stage. Beautiful music and a lovely soothing respite from the hustle and bustle of the busy exhibitor aisles.

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The food samples from PER SE Catering & Events were deelish! And the chef was kinda cute, too…LOL!  [www.persecatering.com]

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Met a couple of wild’n’crazy ladies from THE AGENCY GROUP [www.TheAgencyGroup.com] who shared stories from the trenches of Canadian showbiz with me. Aaaah, memories from my old days working the big rock tours and concerts in the 80’s and 90’s. Big shout out to Soniya (l) and Stefanie (r) – if you want to book great high profile speakers and the greatest bands and musicians in the country – call these ladies!

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I was quite embarrassed that I had not visited the uber cool restaurant JOEY EATON CENTRE [ http://www.joeyrestaurants.com] located on the Dundas St side of the Eaton Centre. The venue looks pretty awesome so I’m hoping to organize a FAM visit with some PR colleagues in the next month or so. The knowledgeable young chef certainly knew his stuff so I can’t wait to try the menu.

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Saw this beautiful floral display (below) set up by DECOR AND MORE [www.decorandmore.com]

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Groove is in the heart…..STARDUST EVENTS presented a fabulous display booth with a hippy dippy vibe. [www.stardustevents.com]

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When you gotta go, you gotta go…and how better to take care of business than with the Royal Flush mobile loo from IT’S MY POTTY [www.itsmypotty.com]. Check out their mobile facilities below…mention my name, get a good seat!

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I had a “Jimmy Buffett” moment when I stepped into THE CANVAS NURSERY booth [www.thecanvasnursery.com] , a Florida-based company offering full-sized artificial palms and tablescapes. Made me want to do a tiki bar themed event….and they even gave me a Pina Colada flavoured lollipop! Yum…

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What a fabulous afternoon spent with innovators and visionaries in the special events industry. Thanks to http://www.canadianspecialevents.com for hosting another fab event.  And thank you to the man in the mirrors who allowed me to touch up my lipstick and hair on the way out!

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