Grant van Gameren’s Tennessee Tavern hosts a pierogi eating contest for a good cause


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Image: Caroline Aksich

Last Sunday, restaurant impresario Grant van Gameren (Bar Isabel, Bar Raval, Harry’s Charbroiled, El Rey, Pretty Ugly, Tennessee Tavern) kicked off the holiday season with a two-for-one celebration. 


(IMAGE: CAROLINE AKSICH)

 

In tandem with his Coats for Cocktails event — a donation of a winter coat got revellers a cocktail on the house — van Gameren also hosted Toronto’s first annual pierogi-eating contest at Tennessee Tavern. (Patrons at his other Parkdale spots, Pretty Ugly and Harry’s also helped out with the coat donation drive.)


(IMAGE: CAROLINE AKSICH)

 

A motley crew of Toronto chefs (including La Banane’s Ivy Lam, Flock’s Cory Vitiello and Chantecler’s Josh Lindley) competed alongside Tennessee regulars for the chance to become the Parkdale pierogi champ. The 13 competitors threw an appropriate amount of shade at each other before glasses of rakia were clinked (and then chugged) and the obligatory Balkan brass band took the strange, amping up the already frantic crowd.

Tennessee co-owner Alec Coyler then, with as much gravitas as one can muster when presiding over a half-shirtless table, outlined the rules: three minutes, 30 pierogies, no cheating, go. And so against a backdrop of trilling trumpets, they feasted. 


(IMAGE: CAROLINE AKSICH)

 

Then, a mere two minutes in, Tennessee regular Matti Price claimed a decisive victory, clearing his plate while most of the table struggled to eat more than half of their starch-stuffed carb-pocket piles. 


(IMAGE: CAROLINE AKSICH)

 

“I ate two bags of kale last night to stretch my stomach,” said Price while accepting the pierogi-shaped prize. The champion’s real prize: free pierogies for life! 

 

 

According to an Instagram post by van Gameren, the event collected 168 coats. He also thanked Beefeater and Havana Club for their help with the event.

Those keen to try and steal the pierogi prize can begin training at Tennessee on Sundays, when they now offer all-you-can-eat pierogies for $5.95. Although, a few Sunday night visits and the allure of a lifetime filled with unlimited pierogies might lose its appeal. 

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