With the arrival of summer, one thing’s certain in Toronto: the arrival of food festivals of every size and cuisine. This year we were able to attend the inaugural Tastemaker festival at Evergreen Brickworks, brought to us by the same organizers of Taste of Toronto in previous years. Tastemaker featured a number of Toronto’s renowned chefs as well as various vendors including wineries and breweries. With a $60 ticket sold by session, guests are admitted entry and have access to samples by all chefs, wineries and artisans. There were three sessions across two days, with different featured chefs at each session:
Friday, May 18, 7:00 – 11:00 PM
- Afrim Pristine (Cheese Boutique) & Alida Solomon (Tutti Matti)
- Michael Hunter (Antler Kitchen & Bar) & Vikram Vij (Vij’s)
Saturday, May 19, 1:00 – 5:00 PM
- Rob Gentile (Buca Osteria & Enoteca) & Patrick Kriss (Alo)
- Grant Van Gameren (Bar Isabel, Bar Raval) & Victor Barry (Piano Piano, Café Cancan)
Saturday, May 19, 7:00 – 11:00 PM
- Elia Herrera (Los Colibris) & Matt Dean Pettit (Matty’s Seafood Co.)
- Ivana Raca (Resto Boemo) & Brad Smith (Resto Boemo)
We attended the Saturday 1pm session as we were huge fans of the chefs featured in that timeslot. Even though we arrived right at 1pm, the hall was already completely full of people. Lineups spanned the entire length of the venue with the longest lines queuing for the Sobey’s Tastemaker Kitchen where the headline chefs were serving their dishes. We waited at least 20 mins in the two lines each and another 15-20 mins for Piano Piano’s coal fire oven. For the size and cost of this event, the organizers should have been much more considerate of the space and limit the number of tickets sold. It was a challenge to even walk from one end of the venue to the other, nevermind even getting some food in our hands!
Exercising some patience, we managed to taste most of the samples available at Tastemaker. We had a taste of Chef Grant Van Gameren and Chef Victor Barry’s Chorizo and Verde and cured meats. The chorizo was spiced well and the pea shoots paired with the dish were a fresh contrast, however the chorizo was on the dry side and nothing to rave about.
Chef Rob Gentile and Chef Patrick Kriss’s station was the only one that made the event worthwhile. The lamb tartare, served with pine nuts and roasted eggplant tasted incredibly fresh. The pasta alla boudin noir (blood pasta) with ‘nduja was nothing like we had before. The texture was almost like gnocchi – pillowy and tender. Please add this to your regular menu! Lastly we had a slice of ora king salmon with gala apples, wasabi, and hajikami (ginger shoots). The pairing of hajikami was so creative and refreshing; it was the right amount of citrus flavour to accent the fish. For a food festival where the dishes needed to be mass produced constantly, we were very impressed with the quality, uniqueness and complexity of these dishes.
Overall, the vibe and concept of Tastemaker was a definite winner, however the sheer amount of crowds and wait time made the experience fall short. With the popularity of the event this year we hope to see an improvement next year so everyone can truly appreciate the food from Toronto’s diverse, renowned chefs.
The entry to Tastemaker was complimentary but opinions are our own.