Do you think Toronto is a food destination? We directly asked this simple yet not easy question to different professionals in the industry and, far from building a consensus, we have started a debate that is still ongoing. Do you agree or not? Are they right or wrong? Judge for yourself!
By Carmen Gómez-Cotta
Zane Caplansky @caplanski, Caplansky’s : “Toronto is absolutely a food destination. Not only is Toronto the most ethnically diverse city in the world but our food scene has the same diversity and authenticity as our people. This is the most exciting time I’ve ever seen food-wise and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. So many people are doing delicious and interesting things from every corner of the world and in every corner of the city. You could literally travel around the world gastronomically many times in Toronto”.
Jay Carter, Dandylion: “Not yet. We’re a very young country with a short history and the same goes with our food: we’re a young culinary city, although interesting things are happening. It’s a fascinating moment to be here right now, because you can express yourself and because you can easily find many ingredients, fresh and frozen, from all around the world to elaborate your dishes. So I’d rather say Toronto is taking the first steps in the food scene”.
Rob Gentile @chefrobgentile, Buca Yorkville: “Sure, it is! But it’s an underrated food destination. Many wouldn’t consider Toronto a place where to travel for food, but it is. Take a look at the city; nowadays we have many good restaurants, unique and fresh ingredients, and awesome chefs. Really interesting things are happening here right now and I would say that Toronto is definitely turning into a food destination”.
Franco Saliteri @charliesburger, Charlies Burger: “We have the raw material but I don’t think Toronto is a food destination yet. When you come to Canada, Montreal is the romantic city or Vancouver the one related to outdoor activities and nature, but who’ll come to Toronto? It’s just the big city. In addition, you have bigger cities close, like New York or Chicago, so it’s even more difficult to see this city as a food destination. But, on the other hand, it’s true that it’s changing very quickly and interesting things are taking place”.
Craig Harding @campagnolo_, Campagnolo: “Yes it is, and it’s also a unique food destination. We have so many different and authentic types of food that just this fact makes Toronto diverse from any other place. Look at all those different neighborhoods where we can have real Italian food or Korean or whatever… that’s amazing! And it’s characteristic of Toronto”.
Hemant Kanchan, George Brown College: “I would consider Toronto a food destination only due to the fact that there is so much going on in our city. It is still lacking compared to New York or London but still it holds its head pretty high. The main reason would be the multicultural society: I can go to Scarborough and get the greatest Sri Lankan food and at the same place get some great Dim Sum. We have pockets of Korea town, Little Italy and some amazing east European sausages. I think you have to know your way around to get some great culinary delight”.
Kevin Castonguay @provisionTo, ProvisionsTo: “Toronto is vibrant and alive with options for ethnic cuisine that seems more prevalent now than ever before. You can’t throw a rock without hitting an ethnic restaurant in this city. In that sense, I would consider Toronto a foodie destination where you can taste the world. However, destination restaurants offering a rich culinary experience are few and far between here. There’s been a shift in the way people eat and socialize in this city which seems to favour inexpensive and casual eating experiences over fine dining establishments. Toronto is a young city in a phase of transition and so is its dining scene”.
Jason Bangerter @langdonhallchef, Langdon Hall: “I really think it is, but I also believe it’s underestimated. That’s the whole point: it seems like the rest of the world doesn’t know what is going on here. People still don’t know how big a deal Toronto has become: conferences and events, new and really skillful chefs, brand-new restaurants… this is because a lot is taking place lately. I think it’s a very interesting place to come and explore”.
Patrick McMurray @shuckerpaddy, Shucker Paddy: “Definitely, Toronto is a food destination. Look at these oysters; I have the best from everywhere! The fact that right here, right now we can have oysters from Spain or the US, or the fact that our oysters from the East Coast are so in demand shows you that this is a food destination… and not just Toronto…”.
Guy Rawlings @guyrawlings: “I don’t think Toronto is a food destination. This is a young country and Toronto is a young city, but in the last few years young people with a lot of great ideas have opened small restaurants mainly because they wanted to express themselves and interesting things are happening right now. Although a culinary stream is taking place in Toronto, it’s not a world-class food destination. Think about Beijing, Tokyo, Italy, France; I consider those cities food destinations”.
And you, do YOU think Toronto is a food destination?