Tea Rebellion

 

banner-final

 

Are you a tea rebel? The good folks at Tea Rebellion certainly are, and this month they are celebrating their first anniversary! If you haven’t tried their tea yet, you really should. Continue »



Cookin’ Greens Goes to Dragon’s Den

Dragon’s Den is one of the CBC’s top rated shows, it features budding entrepreneurs pitching their products and ideas to a panel of multi-millionaires, hoping for a little investment from some of Canada’s financial titans.

The show is strangely addictive, and there are some great ideas out there that only need a little financial backing to become household names. And on Sunday, March 24 at 8 pm you can tune in to watch Toby Davidson, president of Cookin’ Greens throw herself into the Dragons’ Den. Continue »



Maybe It Is Time For A Cleanse

Now that the holiday season is in the rearview mirror, people everywhere are entering the New Year with high hopes, resolutions and a renewed sense of willpower. Perhaps we may have indulged a bit over the past month, but now we are determined to make this year the best yet. We want to succeed, we want to eat right, we want to feel better. Maybe join a gym, lose that extra weight that has been bothering us for the last little while. Most of all, we want to start the year off on the right foot. But what is our first step? It seems to me that before hitting the gym, or starting a yoga class, we should get our house in order. Continue »



Young & Hungry

Here we will introduce you to the young, passionate entrepreneurs behind some of the products on our shelves. These are the people who are helping to shape the way we eat with their new and innovative products.

Hall’s Kitchen

Katherine Hall, Executive Chef

At Hall’s Kitchen we believe in healthy, handcrafted vegetarian foods that are made with fresh, wholesome ingredients of the highest quality and prepared without the use of chemicals, preservatives or additives. We recently launched a new and unique line of vegan soups and stews that are doing very well in many specialty food and health food stores around Toronto and the GTA. All of our soups and stews are made fresh, are GMO free, gluten free, dairy and yeast free.

Each one of our products is also carefully made by hand, not machine, and is slow cooked in small batches in stainless steel soup kettles.

Where did you start out in the food world?

I did my apprenticeship at George Brown in Toronto in the 80’s and my first job was at the Ramada Inn. I spent 3 years at the Ramada where I worked through all the different kitchen stations including saucier, garde manger, pastry, butchery, banquet service etc. After that, I took a position with The McGill Club in Toronto as saucier and soon afterwards became Chef de Cuisine for the Accor Group – a European hotel chain (eg. Novotel). With the Accor Group I had the opportunity to train in France and then held Executive Chef titles at several major hotels, resorts and restaurants in southern Ontario.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I think that the aspects of plate design, menu and recipe development feed the creative side of my personality and knowing that people enjoy eating the food I’ve worked hard to make for them, feeds my nurturing side. Being a chef is a very satisfying career for me, it always has been. With soup in particular, they are heart warming, comfort foods. When someone is sick, people will bring them soup. There is something very healing and therapeutic about a hot bowl of soup. I also like how so many different flavours can be layered together in just one soup or stew dish.

Why make vegetarian soup?

We originally started with chicken in our Bangkok Curry Coconut soup actually, but found that the shelf life was considerably less with meat than without meat. Meat can spoil quickly and to be honest, after all the processed meat scares this past year with the listeria outbreaks etc. we just didn’t want to work with meat. I’m a “flexitarian” not a vegetarian currently, but I can see  myself becoming a vegetarian in future.

Fresh vegetables are just so much cleaner and easier to work with. People can add their own meat to our soups and stews if they want. It’s a fresher way to eat in any case. And, now the vegans have some more interesting options to eat!

What has been the biggest struggle or obstacle you’ve had to overcome in order to get your product onto shelves?

I think the biggest struggle was finding the right space to set up our production kitchen. It took months to find the right space and it was incredibly frustrating! It was like shopping for your first home all over again. We finally found this great space in the west end with lots of light, high ceilings and lots of artists as well as other small food companies and caterers around. It’s the perfect creative space for me to work and get inspired!



Ontario Food Hero – Indian Food Expert

Here we will profile people in this province who help shape the way we eat, cook and think about food.

a young Preena in her family’s community garden in Mississauga

Preena Chauhan, Indian food expert

Preena and her mother Arvinda teach regional, home-style Indian cooking classes together and are guest lecturers for a wide range of audiences, including the Niagara Culinary Institute at Niagara College and the Research Chefs Association. Preena has appeared on television including Food Network Canada and organized culinary tours to one of her favourite food destinations, South India.

In 2008 she was granted the Local Food Hero award by the Toronto Food Policy Council for her efforts of promoting local food through Arvinda’s cooking classes and is involved with the Harborside Organic Farmer’s Market.

Join Preena for a Celebration of India this Monday, September 26th at 7pm, as part of 86’d Mondays at the Drake Hotel.

Where did you start out in the food world?

My mother encouraged me in the kitchen at a very early age, where I helped with baking during the holidays and did small jobs like sorting out lentils and washing the rice. When my mother started Arvinda’s Indian Cooking Classes in the early 90s, I acted as her kitchen assistant which was my part time job in high school. I didn’t realize at the time, but I was gaining a lot of knowledge and appreciation for Indian cuisine. When I was in university baking was as an outlet for me to relieve stress. This stayed with me and my interest and passion just grew from there.

What changes have you seen over the years in how the people you meet feel about local farmers and food?

Since doing my Master in Environmental Studies degree at York University in 2004 where I researched the organic and local food movement and how businesses are adapting towards sustainability, I’ve seen a huge shift in consumer behaviour, particularly the attention in the media and businesses making strong commitments to making a connection to food and local farmers. On a consumer level, we’re impressed with the demands and pressure people are making to support local food. For us to include local, organic Ontario garlic into Arvinda’s Artisanal Spice Blends made sense to us for so many reasons, taste being one of them.

what is your favourite vegetable?

Broccoli! I love broccoli, maybe because it is not a vegetable traditionally found in the Indian kitchen. I was always told broccoli does not pair with Indian spices, so I’m always trying to find ways to fit it into my Indian dishes like a Vegetable Korma or a South Indian Coconut Vegetable Medley. I also love chilled broccoli salads in the summertime as well. Russian Blue potatoes are also a favourite of mine for their aesthetic qualities.

farm animal?

The cow. In Indian culture the cow is revered and respected like a mother, as it is the giver of life through her milk.

season?

No hesitation here, summer as I love the sunshine and sultry, hot weather. It is in summer I am the most alive and feel I’m in optimal health as I tend to eat an overload of seasonal vegetables as they taste so good. I can’t get enough of our Ontario field tomatoes. Summer also reminds me of one of my favourite travel destinations, India.

Where are some of your favourite places in Ontario for food and drink?

Olson Foods at Ravine Winery for their great sandwiches to go and sweet treats

Udupi Palace for authentic South Indian masala dosas

Boiler House in the Distillery District

Spice Safar for pistachio filled croissant

SOMA Chocolates for Mayan Hot Chocolate

Love the Drake’s summer Rhubarb Sour cocktail

Malivoire’s Lady Bug Rose is a nice pair to an Indian meal

North 44 for a special meal