A look at the fantastic culinary creations from last night’s Recipe for Change
By Karolyne Ellacott
Chef Luis Valenzuela serves up bacon-wrapped dates, which were the hit of the night (Images: Karolyne Ellacott)
Last night, Recipe for Change drew a plethora of Hogtown’s most charitable denizens to St. Lawrence Market. FoodShare’s biggest fundraiser of the year saw guests wining and dining their way across the space, sampling goods from 30 chefs including Aaron Joseph Bear Robe, Rocco Agostino and Luis Valenzuela. Over $40,000 was raised to promote food literacy in schools across the city.
Working our way around the room, we managed to check out the culinary creations, though sampling each and every one proved to be too much of a challenge. Read on to discover some of the night’s most enticing dishes.
Our pick for dish of the night (from those sampled, that is) was Luis Valenzuela’s stuffed dates. The Torito chef, who is soon to open a new Queen West location, filled medjool dates with Toscano cheese and roasted almonds, then wrapped them in double-smoked bacon and finished them off with a sprinkling of sea salt. We overheard plenty of others discussing the dish’s appeal, and it ended up winning the People’s Choice award.
Another top contender was Le Sélect Bistro. Chef Albert Ponzo dished out plates of seared rare Albacore tuna that melted with each bite. The fish was topped with heirloom tomatoes, radicchio, black olives and walnuts.
Folks also fell hard for John Sinopoli of Table 17’s orecchiette with white pork shoulder ragu, finished with Brussels sprouts and orange zest.
Heavier fare was found at Keriwa Cafe’s table, where Aaron Joseph Bear Robe was serving up kielbasa as an ode to his Ukranian wife. The venison sausage was paired with cabbage and onions; it’s actually a popular new dish at the restaurant.
The carnivorous options continued over at Barque’s table, where smoked brisket parfait met sour cream-mashed potatoes, crispy onions and plenty of barbecue sauce.
Momofuku’s Sam Gelman and Hans Vogels also offered brisket, here tucked into the restaurant’s oh-so-soft buns and finished with some cabbage, mustard and horseradish.
LA’s Aaron Foster turned to Thailand for inspiration. Fried pork spare ribs were marinated in fish sauce spiked with coriander root and toasted jasmine rice, which leant some earthiness to the dish, and it was finished with a cucumber salad.
But not all was for the carnivore. Vegan options included faux pho with vegan broth from Cafe Belong’s Brad Long, while a vegan mushroom ragout, served over peppered polenta with tofu ricotta, was found at St. Anne’s Spa. Jeff Dueck from the AGO’s Frank noted that he’s found the crowd responds well to vegan picks, so he paired various root veg chips with fava bean hummus and a sweet and sour baba ghanouj. Meanwhile, Rocco Agostino of Pizzeria Libretto/Enoteca Sociale served up a warm ribollita salad with beans, root veggies and kale.
For folks who managed to save room for dessert (or had no problem sandwiching sweet between savory bites), there was plenty to scarf down. Culinary students from Eastdale Collegiate Institute dished out squares of layered apple torte topped with frozen lemon curd, whipped cream and a twist of lemon.
Claudia Gaviria of Crudacafe offered tiny vegan tarts. Beet-infused crusts of coconut and almond were filled with cashews, lavender flowers and agave. A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds was the finishing touch on the rosy-hued treat.
Beets were also found over at Pimenton Fine Foods, where José Arato had paired beetroot and chocolate for incredibly moist brownies which were in turn drizzled with premium Spanish olive oil. Finally, Bernardin turned out teeny-tiny spiced cupcakes topped with butter cream and Seville orange marmalade.