During the summer, Toronto is host to many food festivals. There’s the Mac and Cheese Festival, the Taco Festival, Taste of Toronto and so many more. Although they might all seem the same, there’s one food event that stands out among the others for the best reason. Toronto Taste is a fundraiser that is put on by Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue service. Second Harvest has been bringing food to those in need since 1985 and this event is just one of the ways they make this happen.
The top chefs in Toronto gather together for a night in downtown Toronto to help with this amazing cause. Tickets are pricey, but if you’re going to go to one event this summer, Taste is the one to go to. With your ticket, you get to enjoy an evening of bite-sized dishes prepared by over 90 restaurants, chefs, and drink purveyors. Many of the chefs choose to man their own stations and are extremely friendly to guests and fans who want to talk about their food.
You’ll try things you’ve never been able to before like exotic meats, the highest quality spirits, and the most unique desserts. Each year the returning chefs cook up something new and surprising and the new chefs show up with something that’ll blow your mind. Earlier this June, I had the pleasure of attending the event and trying some of the most delicious food. For the classy, courageous guests there was foie gras from highly regarded chef Mark McEwan. When you wanted something simple and sweet, ACE Bakery was right at the beginning of the line with a s’mores crostini.
Some of the top pizza restaurants in Toronto including Bar Buca and Pizza Libretto served signature dishes, one of which was a deep fried mini pizza with mortadella and ricotta cheese. Toronto Taste is definitely an older crowd than other food festivals, but that means you get to try sophisticated foods that you wouldn’t at other events. Oysters from Rodney’s are always a hit and Chef Michael Smith was there this year with his own oysters that were a crowd pleaser.
No event is complete without the drinks, and Taste delivers on that front too. Victoria Gin was there mixing up some fruity cocktails fit for washing down your food and one stand serving chocolate beer really delivered on the chocolate flavor. They even give you a little drink holder to attach to your plate since you’ll be walking from station to station all night.
When you take a break from eating, there’s a lot of entertainment and prizes to be won. Silent auctions run throughout the night and about an hour into the event, the live auctions start. Prizes range from cookware sets to vacations and guests are extremely generous. All of this money goes towards the grand total donation of the evening. Later in the night, John Catucci hosted a chef competition where top chefs prepared dishes with mystery ingredients to show how food can be used instead of wasted.
Toronto Taste “accounts for 20% of the annual revenue” of Second Harvest. This year at the 26th annual event, they successfully raised $850,000. Second Harvest always translates money raised into the amount of people it can feed so you can see the difference you’re making. After Taste, enough money was raised to feed 1.7 million meals to people in need. You might feel stuffed after the night is over but you definitely won’t feel guilty for contributing to conquering hunger across Toronto.
If you don’t want to or cannot attend the event, volunteering is also a great option. Helping set up, clean up, and making sure everything runs smoothly is a great way to help out with this amazing cause and an opportunity to be around these top chefs and big stars while making a difference in your city.