Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Being a Roving Twitter Reporter for Toronto Taste 2015

Often referred to as "Toronto’s most talked about culinary event of the year", Toronto Taste, presented by The Daniels Corporationcelebrated its 25th anniversary on Sunday, June 7th, at Corus Quay. The legendary culinary fundraiser in support of Second Harvest’s food rescue program attracted over 1,400 food lovers. Guests had the opportunity to mingle with celebrity chefs, sample offerings from 60 of Toronto’s finest restaurants and over 30 beverage purveyors, watch chefs go head-to-head competing in the Chef Challenge, win extraordinary raffle prizes, and bid on rare wines, epic culinary and travel experiences, and luxury goods and services in Toronto Taste’s wine, live, and silent auctions. 

Second Harvest (Twitter: @2ndHarvestTO, Facebook: Second Harvest) is a charity that rescues fresh, surplus food, that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores, manufacturers, distributors, farmers, restaurants and hotels. The food is delivered daily to more than 200 social service agencies feeding people experiencing hunger across Toronto. Since 1985 Second Harvest has rescued and delivered 100 million pounds of good food, thus preventing 50 million pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Second Harvest’s vision: No Waste. No Hunger. 

Funds raised at Toronto Taste keep Second Harvest trucks on the road, every day, rescuing good food and delivering it to social service agencies feeding children, adults and seniors experiencing hunger. The event is critical to the success of Second Harvest’s food rescue program and accounts for 20% of the organization's annual revenue. This year, Toronto Taste raised $850,000 for Second Harvest, enough to provide 1.7 million meals to people experiencing hunger across Toronto. This makes Toronto Taste 2015 the most successful fundraising event in 25 year history.

2015 marks my fifth year as a Toronto Taste Social Media Committee Member and trust me when I say that I still feel extremely honoured to be part of this amazing event. And much like the past four years I arrived to the venue several hours before doors open to reacquaint myself with the site and to help set up.

A shot of the main stage area. This is where the Live Auction and the Chef Challenge will take place. The Live Auction features big-ticket items and unique culinary experiences, and the Chef Challenge is where three up-and-coming chefs compete to whip up the tastiest dish with a mystery box of ingredients.

Aside from the Live Auction there is also a Wine Auction that includes a global selection of wines sourced from private collections. Guests can find rare and fine wines for drinking, collecting, and cellar-ing.  

Last, but not least, the Silent Auction offers hundreds of items from cookware, appliances, jewelry and art to restaurant gift certificates, sporting event and concert tickets.

My task at each year's Toronto Taste is to tweet about what each chef is serving before the VIPs and the general public arrive at 5pm and 6pm, respectively, as well as during the event. So even though chefs are still setting up Mark & Stacey of Tasting Toronto and I tag-teamed and made our way through each and every chef station.

As you may or may not know, I do a blog post after Toronto Taste every year which chronicles my eating and drinking whirlwind at the event. Every year I try to eat at most, if not all, of the food stations. Although this seems like a daunting task (which it kinda is) it was relatively easier this year since many chefs were serving fish  (i.e. smoked / cured fish, ceviche, crudo, etc.) which occupied way less stomach real estate than pork belly and sliders, which were much more prevalent/trendy in previous years.

Ok, I lied. These are sliders but they are fish sliders so they don't count haha.

Anyway, prepare to have your mouth water! Here's a slew of foodporn for your visual enjoyment...

Toronto Taste in full swing.

Where to next?

Taking a mini-break from the stations, here's the Live Auction happening at the main stage. The Live Auction co-hosted by the Food Network’s John Catucci and Bob Blumer and supported by auctioneer Allen Fleishman gathered large bids on one-of-a-kind prizes including real-estate services by Andrew Ipekian and dinner for two at Bob Blumer’s home in L.A. Value of these prizes are...well.. priceless!

Anddddddddd back to the food.

Chef Mark McEwan serving his Korean tacos.

Host John Catucci, chef Mark McEwan and host Bob Blumer.

Second Harvest ambassador Roger Mooking took the stage to host the Toronto Taste Chef Challenge. This year's competing contestants were Matt Basile (Fidel Gastro), Adam Oliveira (The Spoke Club, Canadian Semi-Finalist in Pellegrino Young Chef Competition 2015) and Devan Rajkumar (The Food Dudes). 

 Roger Mooking with Chef Challenge judges Chef Tom Brodi (All Clad), Lucy Waverman (The Globe & Mail), Chef Michael Cloutier (McCormick), and Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell (Global News).

Chef Adam Oliveira of The Spoke Club took home the grand prize, which included 2 tickets to next year's Toronto Taste and an exciting gift bag with top of the line kitchen swag. 

It would be wrong to leave Toronto Taste without gelato...

A big THANK YOU goes out to the sponsors, hosts, chefs, beverage purveyors and volunteers; Toronto Taste wouldn't have been possible without them. 400 volunteers contribute to making Toronto Taste a reality, and all of the food and drink served at Toronto Taste  are donated by participating chefs and beverage purveyors. And to everybody who came out to support the cause...THANK YOU!

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