Soar with the Wind-Up Bird Cafe

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The Wind Up Bird Cafe on College Street West
The Wind Up Bird Cafe on College Street West, photo Diana Condolo

By Diana Condolo

“Have you ever had that feeling-that you’d like to go to a whole different place and become a whole different self?”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

After this overly long winter, I undeniably felt the need to shed my winter layers and my winter self, which has been cocooned up and semi-hibernating. As I entered the Wind-Up Bird Cafe for the media party, I exited winter and woke up to a creative and airy, spring-like world.

The name of this Toronto restaurant is taken from a novel by Japanese author Haruki Murakami. The decor of the café takes on themes from the novel. Birds swoop across the walls:

Interior of Wind Up Bird Cafe in Toronto, photo Diana Condolo
Interior of Wind Up Bird Cafe in Toronto, photo Diana Condolo

…and the tables:

Tables at Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo
Tables at Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo

The space is so fanciful that I found myself writing notes about the decor. Truthfully, I am stealing ideas for interior decorating tips for my home.

The Wind Up Bird Cafe on College Street West
The Wind Up Bird Cafe on College Street West, photo Diana Condolo

The musical accompaniment was serene in an event that engages and excites all the senses.

Music ensemble at Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo
Music ensemble at Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo

What I found is that Wind-Up Bird Cafe is a space that doesn’t simply provide food, but also nourishes ideas and engagement with its community.

Sang Kim spoke about his life as an entrepreneur and his passion. He is a staunch supporter of food literacy as well as cultural events. Wind-Up Bird Cafe will be having both types of events including book launches, author readings (I think my brunch club will happily become a dinner club for this!), cooking demonstrations, as well as social and environmental justice.

Sang Kim of Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo
Sang Kim of Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo

Yumiko Kobayashi is the chef and co-owner of Wind-Up Bird Cafe. Her inspiration for the menu came from both her friends and her mother. Since she has both vegetarian and meat eater friends, she wished to make a place where they both could come together and share a meal. Her mother encouraged the eating of many vegetables and always included several times more veggies than meat. Nothing makes for a better meal than one that is inspired by the people you care for.

The media had a live cooking show as Proteen Queen demonstrated to Kiki how to cook tofu burgers. Proteen Queen, who is 16 years old, has been cooking ever since she remembers and her passion for cooking shows. She even has her own blog http://proteenqueen.com/. There is nothing like kids teaching kids to cook. There is also nothing like watching kids teach kids how to cook. How would you describe the making tofu balls? Kiki says it is like making snow balls. (I’m sorry — aren’t we trying to escape winter?!)

Tofu Balls at Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo
Tofu Balls at Wind Up Bird Cafe, photo Diana Condolo

Here is the Kid-Chen Confidential in action. This is when it started to smell really, really good.

Proteen Queen teaches Kimi how to make tofu burgers, photo Diana Condolo
Proteen Queen teaches Kiki how to make tofu burgers, photo Diana Condolo

After capping off the evening with a light and tangy mango cheesecake I felt like a whole different self (with acceding nod to the Chronicle).

Wind-Up Bird Cafe
382 College Street Toronto
647-349-6373
https://twitter.com/WindUpBirdCafe
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