Toronto Taste is Back and Better Than Ever

Toronto’s legendary culinary fundraiser is back for another year

Image courtesy Toronto Taste

Toronto Taste is back on June 12 at Chorus Quay once again in support of Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue charity. The foodie-focused event has raised over $11 million since it began in 1991, which has translated into Second Harvest being able to rescue enough food to ensure social service agencies throughout the GTA could get 27 million meals to people in need.

What’s it all about?

The legendary culinary fundraiser is now in its 26th year and accounts for 20 percent of all of Second Harvest’s fundraising. Toronto Taste is one of the hottest tickets in town for food lovers and will feature inventive dishes and drinks from over 90 of Toronto’s best food and drink purveyors (we got two sneak-peek recipes you can check out at the end of the post). What could be better than hanging out by the lake, enjoying the fresh air and sampling amazing food prepared by some of the city’s best chefs?

Last year’s event raised $850,000 for Second Harvest, enough to provide well over one million meals for those experiencing hunger. So not only is Taste Toronto an opportunity to eat and drink like a king or queen for a day, doing so supports one of the city’s most important charities.

Food and beverage to expect

Some of this year’s participating food purveyors and restaurants include Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (Michael Leary), Boralia (Wayne Morris), The Carbon Bar (Hidde Zomer), ACE Bakery (Erin Marcus), Pizzeria Libretto (Rocco Agostino), Little Anthony’s Italian Restaurant (Garth Legree), Maple Leaf Tavern (Jesse Vallins),Los Colibris (Ella Herrera), The McEwan Group (Mark McEwan) and Buca (Rob Gentile) among many others. You can check out full (amazing) list here.

In terms of beverage purveyors, some of whom you can expect includes Amsterdam Brewery, Brickworks Ciderhouse, Crystal Head Vodka, Steam Whistle Brewing, Victoria Gin, Singha Beer, Churchill Cellars, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates, Nespresso and Beau’s All Natural to name but a few to look forward to.

More Taste Toronto foodie fun

In addition to eating and drinking your way through an (ideally) sunny late spring day for a great cause, Toronto Taste also has a few other fun foodie tricks in store for attendees. You can also look forward to a fine wine auction, the chance to win a tour of India for two people in a raffle draw (or a second prize of a $5000 gift certificate to Knar Jewellery) and the chance to check out this year’s chef challenge. Now in its third year, the challenge pits three chefs against each other in a 30-minute cook-off. The catch: chefs need to create a dish from a box of mystery ingredients a la Food Network’s Chopped. Eager individual fundraisers can get in on the chef challenge action – the top three fundraisers get to be sous chefs during the competition, which means cooking alongside one of three participating chefs: Kaya Ogruce of Death in Venice Gelato Co., Darby Piquette of ONE Restaurant and Ivana Raca of Raca Café and Bar.

Celebrity Chefs for 2016 include the aforementioned Mark McEwan, along with Bob Blumer and Michael Smith and the celebrity sighting from 2015 was none other than Canadian actress and Sex and the City alum, Kim Cattrall.

More about Second Harvest and hunger in Canada

If you’re wondering about just what Second Harvest does and why Toronto Taste is so important for them, here are a few important facts about the charity. Started in 1985, Second Harvest has been working hard to pick up and distribute donated, surplus food – food that would otherwise be going to waste. This amounts to millions of pounds of good food every year that would otherwise end up in the landfill. That food gets delivered to community agencies across Toronto. The long-running charity is the main provider of fresh food to people in need in Toronto, with over eight million pounds of food delivered in the past year. Currently, Second Harvest delivers rescued food to over 220 social service agencies.

Recipe one: Shrimp scampi with gremolata crumb

As promised, a sneak-peek recipe you can try at home. This one comes courtesy of Little Anthony’s Chef Garth Legree.

Gremolata crumb 

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup parsley, finely chopped  

½ cup plain breadcrumbs


1 tsp olive oil

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

½ lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ tsp chilli flakes or fresh chilli pepper

1 shallot, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup white wine

½ cup heavy cream

2 lemons - juice of 1 lemon and wedges for garnish

¼ cup flat leaf parsley coarsely chopped

For the gremolata crumb:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a coarse crumb has formed. Spread on a baking tray and allow to dry out for one hour. 

For the shrimp:

In a large sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium high heat. Add shrimp and sauté for one minute before adding garlic, chilli and shallots and cook for another 30 seconds. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and remove from pan. Deglaze the pan with white wine. When white wine is reduced by half, add heavy cream and remainder of butter. Lower heat to medium and reduce the sauce until thickened, making sure not to split the sauce.  Finish with lemon juice and parsley.

To plate

Garnish shrimp with gremolata crumb and lemon wedges. Serve with lightly dressed arugula salad and lots of crusty bread or toss with your favorite pasta.  

Recipe two: The Royal Treatment cocktail

Summer cocktail recipe for The Royal Treatment, courtesy Victoria Gin and created by Elizabeth Savage for the Victoria Gin 2010 Toronto Cocktail Competition

1½ oz Victoria Gin

4 oz white cranberry juice

Sparkling wine

Kiwi slices

A handful of raspberries

A handful of blackberries

6 mint leaves

Add ice to a wine glass. Add gin, juice, and top with sparkling wine. Add fruit and mint. Stir, drink and enjoy.

Purchase tickets to Toronto Taste here or donate to Second Harvest here.

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