By Lory Diaz
Chefs for Change by Aeroplan recently held their third winter fundraiser at Propeller Coffee’s beautiful 50 Wade Ave location. The event was in support of Community Food Centres Canada (CFCC), and Torontonicity was invited to attend the four-course dinner, featuring dishes from many of Toronto’s favourite chefs. The theme of the night was Connections, which was demonstrated by having each course prepared by pairs of culinary masters with assistance provided by George Brown College Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts students.
If you aren’t familiar with CFCC, they’re a wonderful organization tackling the major issue of food insecurity across Canada by collaborating with various local community groups; they advocate for health, justice, and belonging in low-income neighbourhoods, while also focusing on skill-development to empower residents. The Stop Community Food Centre is a founding partner, and hosts one of my favourite food fundraisers in Toronto. You can read about The Stop’s Night Market here, and the amazing work they’re do!
This is the fourth year that Chefs for Change has organized the dinner series, with a total of five events for winter 2018. All the chefs, students, and staff volunteer their time to ensure that all the money benefits the CFCC programming. As guests arrived they were treated to delicious canapes by Chris Brown of Victor Dries Events, Joel Rousell of George Brown College, and Leah Hannon of Sand and Pearl Raw Bar and Fish Fry.
The Propeller space is open for guests to walk around and make connections with other CFCC supporters, and watch as delicious bites are prepared. This importance of community is further underscored by the harvest table seating, where everyone is invited to share in conversation with their table mates. Maybe even discuss the delicious oysters with crisp jalapeno slices they were just recently enjoying before grabbing their seat!
The first course of the night was a pork jowls and fluke dish by chefs Paul Navarrete of Momofuku and Ted Corrado of The Drake Hotel. The dish appeared light and vibrant, but was incredibly rich and flavourful. The gochujang wasn’t overpoweringly spicy, but instead intensified the vibrancy and brought all the flavours together.
The second course came courtesy of chefs Connie DeSousa & John Jackson from CHARCUT, accompanied by Scott Vivian of Beast. The empanadas were probably one of my favourite combinations of the night: short rib and bone marrow with achiote aioli, and braised chicken with aji costeno.
DeSousa and Jackson speaking to the inspiration of their dish: a recent trip to Mexico where they discovered a new use for the achiote spice traditionally used in Canada for colouring.
Between meals guests were invited to try the night’s signature drink: Top Shelf Gin’s grapefruit, cucumber, and soda cocktail. This was delicious, and definitely had me wishing for summer sun. May have discovered my new favourite drink for the warmer months!
I was incredibly excited for the third course, as it was prepared by Chef Chris Brown of Victor Dries (and my personal favourite) Grant van Gameren of Bar Isabel, El Rey, and Bar Raval: pacific cod and chorizo verde with confit potatoes, broccolini and cod sauce. The chorizo verde didn’t have the traditional smokier spice (that one would find in a traditional chorizo), but was delightful when paired with the creamier base of the cod sauce. The broccolini’s mild bitterness also cut through the richness, and left me wanting seconds.
The night ended with two spectacular dessert options. The first was a beautiful birch inspired chocolate nest by pastry chef Louis Lim. This was not only elegant and perfectly plated, but also sat atop a delicious base of various nuts and grains. If you’re a fan of creative, clean, and inspiring plating please make sure to check out Chef Lim’s latest options at Richmond Station.
The second dessert platter was created by Bertrand Alepee of The Tempered Room. There were so many options, and all perfectly presented with such delicacy and décor. I immediately went for the lemon tart with roasted marshmallow, and then couldn’t help but bite into their choux pastry puff filled with a subtle passionfruit cream, finished with a dusting of peach and pearl duochrome pigment. Beautiful!
This year’s Chefs for Change dinner series is completely sold out – which shouldn’t surprise anyone – but if all the food has your mouth watering and anticipating the next event in support of the important work Community Food Centres Canada does, just check out their main page here! There are so many wonderful ways to help this organization out, including volunteering hours in some of their local gardens. Any and all efforts are appreciated, and help out fellow Torontonians.
If you’ve attended any of the CFCC events in previous years, let us know by leaving a comment! Did you have a favourite dish?