Toronto chefs unite for What’s on the Table, a philanthropic feast for foodies
By Karolyne Ellacott
Chef Bertrand Alépée at Wychwood Barns (Images: Karolyne Ellacott)
Last night, over 500 of the Big Smoke’s most famished — and generous — foodies gathered at the Wychwood Barns for What’s On The Table, an annual charity event for The Stop. The fête brought together quite the collection of culinary talents for its seventh iteration.
New to the line-up this year were Nick Liu of GwaiLo, La Carnita’s Andrew Richmond and Kristin Donovan from Hooked. More seasoned participants included Anthony Walsh of Canoe and Brad Long from Cafe Belong. We took a whirlwind tour around the barn to catch the best of the feast.
Set up by a team of eager volunteers, the event was mostly held indoors, although a few teams held down the fort in a heated tent out front. There, Top Chef Canada’s David Chrystian (of Victor restaurant) turned out teeny-tiny scoops of duck liver ice cream cones which, as he pointed out, won him the challenge in episode four. Beast’s Scott Vivian served up Ontario water buffalo manti — or Turkish dumplings — topped with yogurt and sumac, while La Carnita tempted carnivores with cochinita pibil gorditas: achiote-braised pork with jicama salsa, queso añejo and cilantro.
Inside, we checked out the Pizzeria Libretto’s pork arancini — stuffed with fontina and smoked scamorza fonduta — after The Stop’s Cara Goodman pointed us in that direction, love struck after having consumed one. Across the way, a lineup formed for Canoe’s barbecued Chantecler chicken. Doused in the so-called nasty sauce, which packed a punch, the goods were stuffed into rounds of roasted garlic bannock. We were instructed to fold ‘em in half and go for it — and grab a glass of wine to boot. In an unofficial survey, they were a top contender for dish of the night.
Over at The Tempered Chef’s table, former mayor David Miller tucked into goat cheese falafel served with homemade pita. When asked to name favourites, Miller admitted it was his first bite of the night, though he was keen to try everything. Meanwhile, the well-heeled crowd noshed on lobster and octopus croquettes from Salt, dipping the golden bites into a citrus and tarragon aioli.
Further down the room at the Hooked table, Kristin Donovan shucked East Coast oysters at a rapid-fire pace, offering three choices of sauce: homemade hot sauce, sake sauce and a green apple and bourbon peppercorn version. Donavan, however, was somewhat biased: “Hot sauce! Hot sauce! Hot sauce!” she trumpeted.
At the GwaiLo table, bison pastrami spring rolls were gobbled up by people who may or may not have already dined at Liu’s month-long pop-up at Senses. Café Belong’s Brad Long churned out steamrollers which were filled with “pickled pumpkin — and everything,” and at Parts & Labour’s table, Matty Matheson piled brisket and cured celery onto caraway sea-salt buns, drenching the lot with crunchy mustard, horseradish and jus.
Those keen on sweets were able to nibble on a selection of Nadège Nourian’s gourmandise, which were savoury thanks to a sizable quotient of cheese. Guests devoured hunks of parmesan chocolate bars, camembert macarons and Roquefort-filled squares of chocolate.
Frangipane’s Claudia Egger offered a veritable visual feast, while a very pregnant Devin Connell had a table laden with Paulette’s mini doughnuts — including a brand-new candied apple version. Soma offered sweetness in liquid form with its salted caramel hot chocolate, topped with a toffee powder and a gingerbread and pecan chip. And finally, Cory Vitiello of The Harbord Room served up a warm sticky carrot and ginger cake topped with sour cream and squash icing and finished with pumpkin seed brittle.
With good spirits and plenty of vino comingling in the air, the night was a fête to remember.