Featured Tasters

Each week, TorEats will select a different Toronto based taster to be featured on the site. TorEats will conduct an interview with the chosen taster to keep you up to date on the Toronto food scene from their perspective.


TorEats Featured Taster: Maddy @Cook.Eat.Sleep.Repeat

How did you get into food?IMG_8987

I honestly have no idea, I know it’s cheesy but I think I was just born with an above average desire to eat often and appreciate what I’m eating.  I was the kind of 5 year old that was talking about what we’re having for breakfast at the dinner table the night before. My family still makes fun of me for it. I guess it just came naturally and then my love for cooking came later on from a desire to eat really good food often.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

Bacon in the morning, poutine at night.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

Steves family restaurant at Bathurst and Wilson. If they’re not serving your eggs Benedict with a steak knife than you’re in the wrong place.

When and why did you start your food account?

To start, I have always loved food accounts and am fascinated by the chefs/home cooks that are behind them. When I decided I wanted to pursue a career in food I met an amazing friend and food industry mentor who encouraged me start an account. I already had a personal Instagram where I sometimes posted food but wanted to differentiate my food from other photos. It’s not like I had to cook more or change my routine whatsoever…. 90% of my phone was already filled with food pictures.

 Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Nope my account is completely my home cooking! But I maybe do it for the snap sometimes… shhhh.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Not acknowledging bad service. It’s ok to have an off night or an overly long wait for your reservation if the restaurant can acknowledge that and react in an appropriate way (free margarita please!). The only thing worse than bad service is not acknowledging that there was bad service.

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

Ink in California – Michael Voltaggio is an awesome chef.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

Everyone seems to be so connected through social media, from the restaurants to chefs to foodies we are all in the same foodie bubble. Some of the chefs are so open with their Instagram and their willingness to share their inspirations, food and stories of their personal life is really interesting to watch. It is super cool going to a restaurant of a chef you admire and knowing what he made himself for breakfast that morning. The Toronto food scene is so connected!

Where do you draw inspiration for your dishes from?

I watch a lot of food shows where I draw inspiration. My favourites are Anthony Bourdain: No Reservation/Parts Unknown and Top Chef. Also, pictures I see on Instagram often inspire me. I don’t like following recipes so I prefer looking at photos for inspiration.

Who are some of your role models in the foodie community?

An amazing mentor, friend and role model to me in the foodie community has been @joannasable. She inspired me to start @cook.eat.sleep.repeat and has introduced me to some really incredible people in the food industry. Speaking of which- @mightyfinebrine is another killer account (and person) that has been a role model to me in the foodie community. As a student who is just getting involved in the food world it is really cool to watch people like @joannasable and @mightyfinebrine live out their food ambitions, and seriously inspires me to do the same.

On a different note, @jonathandouglasoc is a super cool Instagram account I’ve been following for a long time. He is a chef in Toronto that does a number of projects and has worked at a variety of restaurants. I have enjoyed watching his journey as a chef and aspects of his personal life. I even got the chance to see him in action at Boehmer restaurant a couple months ago!

Follow Maddy on Instagram @Cook.Eat.Sleep.Repeat


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Mel @Tastethesix

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From a young age (6 years old) I’ve always had an interest in food. I remember sitting in the family place with a notebook writing down recipes while watching my favourite cooking shows with a notebook in my handwriting. At that time my favourite cooking shows were Canadian Living and Giada de Laurentiis: Everyday Italian.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

That’s a really hard one…I’m addicted to coffee. No joke. I like to think of myself as a coffee enthusiast.

Some of my favourites include:

  • De Mello Palheta Coffee Roasters. I get the Cortado every time.
  • Himalayan Java. They make such elaborate designs. It’s always so exciting to see what I’ll get!
  • Sam James Coffee Bar
  • Boxcar Social

(No order) I love so many coffee places there’s so many more that have earned a well-deserved place on the list

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

I’ve had sooo many incredible meals. I can’t just name one… that would be impossible! All my favourite meals have been at my 2 favourite restaurants.

Bar Buca. OUTSTANDING. Don’t get me wring Buca is absolutely incredible, probably top 5 in my list. However, I enjoy the smaller portions and sharing style at Bar buca. My favourites include the Bar Buca Cocktail, carciofi crudi, cannelloni, polpette di capra and the arrosticini. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The food is out of this world. I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Scaramouche Pasta Bar. DELISH. Every time I go, I get the same entree, the peppercorn fettuccine. I highly recommend it. You will not be disappointed.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

If I’m looking at a menu and I see the words: chocolate, ice cream ginger or truffles, it’s a done deal. I’m getting it.

 When and why did you start your food account?

I started taking pictures of the food I’ve eaten about a year and a half ago… maybe longer. I had around 100-200 pictures of food in an album and I’ve always been a fan on food Instagram’s (at this point I followed a couple) and I figured why don’t I start one. That’s how it began.

Tastethesix, however was not the original name. It was Tastethe6. I started the account back in September of 2015, but that Instagram got hacked and I wasn’t able to get back in. After numerous emails to Instagram, nothing was done to revive my account 😦 The next week I ended up deciding I’d try it again, and that’s when tastethesix was created.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

I actually have two pet peeves that come to mind. The first is probably when the waiter is trying to get someone’s attention and the person is daydreaming or talking with someone and doesn’t notice the waiter and he just continues to stand there. It makes me feel uncomfortable and sorry for the waiter.

The second is when people dig into other people’s food before or right after the person begins to eat. Give the person a chance to taste the food they’ve been waiting. (This happens to me constantly with my family. It drives me crazy!)

Who is your favourite chef?

Yotam Ottolenghi. I own all of his cookbooks and constantly flip through leaving stickers on the recipes I want to try next. So far they’ve all been delicious!

Gordon Ramsay. Master Chef is one of my favourite shows. I’ve watched every season of Master Chef and Master Chef Canada. The way he talks about food and watching him cook is mesmerizing.

I actually had the privilege of dining at their restaurants in London last spring. I went to Ottolenghi’s NOPI and Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin star restaurant Maze. The food at both establishments was divine! Easily Top 5 meals I’ve ever eaten. I was in food heaven.

Follow Mel on Instagram @Tastethesix


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Krystle @dineandfash

 How did you get into food?unnamed-2

I have always had an interest in food from a very young age. Food is a huge part of my culture, so I grew up in a household where both of my parents frequently cooked and encouraged me to get involved. However, my parents were not adventurous eaters and would stick to a rotation of the same dishes. It wasn’t really until I lived on my own in Amsterdam about 10 years ago on an exchange program that I started to develop and enhance my own palate and become a lot more adventurous with food. Living in a foreign country and traveling to many countries has certainly vastly expanded my horizons.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

Unequivocally, pizza!

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

All the time! I actually have a spreadsheet that I created of over 350 restaurants in Toronto that I have either frequented or need to try – it is organized alphabetically with columns for the name of restaurant, neighbourhood, type of cuisine, whether I’ve been before, and a comments section. This way, I never have to run into the problem of where to eat!

The funny thing is when people ask me where to eat, I end up asking them lots of questions first before being able to answer them – like what neighbourhood, what type of cuisine etc., because I want to give them the best recommendation possible.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

 No doubt: Maha’s

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

Both – we eat out a lot!

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

Neo Coffee Bar, Boxcar Social (Riverside), Sorry Coffee Co.

When and why did you start your food account?

I’ve used my Instagram account as a personal account since June of 2013. I would post pictures of my dining experiences here and there, as I have always been into food, but it was primarily a personal account. I decided to focus my account on blogging about food, fashion and lifestyle beginning somewhere around November of 2015.

What is your hidden gem?

Chantecler Restaurant – It is such a great Parkdale spot with a small menu and kitchen, but everything on the menu is spectacular. The calamari, popcorn shrimp and especially the lettuce meal are all to die for. I wish more people knew about or frequented this restaurant because they deserve some more recognition.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

This might be too difficult to answer. I’ve always had great experiences at Byblos and it’s probably my favourite restaurant in the city.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Yes, but it is always mainly for the food

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Bad service

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark or Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

That it’s so dynamic and diverse, is always changing, and keeps us foodies on our toes!

If you were to create a restaurant, what would it be like?

It would be small with a limited menu that would focus on serving quality ingredients, while being reasonably-priced, it would have impeccable service, with the nicest and most photogenic dishes and interior!

Who is your favourite chef?

I have to pick two: Mark McEwan and Susur Lee. Not because they are celebrities, but because I actually love their food and because, despite their celebrity status, they still stay in and connected to Toronto and have done so much to elevate the food scene in Toronto.

Follow Krystle on Instagram @dineandfash


 

TorEats Featured Taster: ALLONS.Y @allons.y

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What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

Rose and Sons. The lox bagel gets me every time. I wish they would bring back the white fish in the schmaltz platter though. If anyone from Rose and Sons happens to be reading this I beg you to bring the white fish back!

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

Sam James Coffee Bar, Tandem, Boxcar Social, Tearo. What makes them so good is the quality and the consistency. I know I can count on them for the perfect cortado each and every time.

When and why did you start your food account?

I started my account about 5 years ago but I wasn’t actively posting until the past 2 years. I only started posting pictures because my friends teased me about not having any photos on my account so I started posting pictures of food because that’s what I’ve always taken pictures of even before Instagram existed. It really is art to me. Tasty art.

What is your hidden gem?

Petit Nuage, it is a tiny little patisserie shop in Market 707 with big taste and quality. The absolute best roll cake in Toronto and love all the tea infused flavors of the macarons, cakes, and puffs

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

When I’m taking photos of something and someone says to me “You know you have to eat that?” Actually, I don’t. If I paid for it I can take photos of it and not take a single bite if I don’t want to. Of course I always do eat my food though. But at the end of the day as long as I’m not disrupting other customers or preventing staff from doing their job I can take as many pictures as I like as far as I’m concerned. Not to mention that saying that just tells me you’re just as unoriginal as the 498573984573 other people who have said that thinking they are clever. If you’re going to make a quip about my photo taking at least have the decency to be witty. Otherwise, enjoy fading into obscurity with My Space and Tumblr since you obviously don’t know what social media is. RARW……..yeah claws out.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

I love how diverse it is. Toronto is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world and that is definitely reflected in the food scene. There isn’t any type of food you can find here and it’s usually authentic and amazing too.

Follow ALLONS.Y on Instagram @allons.y


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Jehd Lunar @jehdeatstoronto

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 What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

I’m going to say tacos even though I feel absolutely no guilt eating them. I don’t discriminate…I love tacos from Seven Lives, El Trompo, Grand Electric, Wilbur, Mad Mexican, Xola, Playa Cabana, Maizal, La Carnita, and yes, even Taco Bell – you name it, I’ve probably eaten it.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

Hands down, Maha’s! The only downside with Maha’s is the long lineups every weekend, but it’s totally worth it.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

I’d say a little bit of both. There are a handful of dessert places and restaurants I seem to always go back to and order the same things, but I also like to browse through blogTO every once in a while to see what is new.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

I really like Neo Coffee Bar but I feel like I’m cheating when I say that because I’ve never actually had their coffee. I’ve had their matcha (which I love) and their yummy Japanese desserts. Also the staff here is SUPER nice, I’ve sat and studied here a couple times…and when they aren’t busy the lady at the counter comes around to the customers and offers them a glass of water. It’s seriously the little things that get me.

When and why did you start your food account?

I think this was purely by accident. Originally my Instagram account was just a private personal account where I posted about my life. I really had no intention of making it into a food account. But given that I’m always eating my posts naturally reflected that. Before I knew it I had a collage of foods I ate and restaurants I’ve been to. I remember always struggling to make up a caption because I didn’t want it to be something boring. I started using puns for my captions and it caught on after a while. I only recently publicized my account and changed my username to reflect my food account but to be honest I don’t know how I feel about it.

What is your hidden gem?

If were talking desserts it has to be Roselle! It is a small tiny dessert place that really doesn’t get enough attention. Meal wise, it used to be this small sushi place by York mills and Leslie called Sam Jung. I’ve been going there for close to 7 years and I’ve always ordered the same few things…but he closed up last summer to live back in Asia 😦

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

Ever since I got back from Barcelona I’ve been in the search for the best paella. The most recent one I went to is Tapagria which I really enjoyed. I went there for the paella but fell in love with their food and the atmosphere. There was something about the place that made you feel like you were in a different country. The tapas were delicious and unique, the peach sangria was the best sangria I’ve ever had, the paella was packed with flavour, and I licked the plate of my Spanish bread dessert.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Erm yeahhh I’d say I’m pretty guilty of this. I’m drawn to restaurants based on what I see on Instagram so naturally it gets put on my list if I know I’ll get a nice photo out of it.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Dim lighting is a huge turn off. For me the food has to look appetizing for it to actually be appetizing. Plus how do I take food photos in dim lighted restaurants?

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

Toronto has foods from just about anywhere I can think of. I also like that many places have started fusing different foods from different places to make unique dishes – its genius!

Follow Jehd on Instagram @jehdeatstoronto


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Jes Matias @jesforkingwithyou

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 How did you get into food?

Being born and raised in Toronto you’re pretty much thrown into it. Especially having a father who’s work in a few fine dining restaurants doesn’t hurt as well. Also being Filipino where food is pretty much what brings family together, ooh and family but we know it’s really the food. Lol.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

Ice cream. I have a weakness for it. I think of creative ways to put it on and thank goodness Toronto has so many places that thinks the same. My favourite, when you just really need it, is an ice cream bar plopped in my black coffee and I just watch it melt balancing the hot cold ratio and sweetening it just perfect.

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

So…let me just air this out first. I’m currently living in the east coast. Don’t get it twisted, my heart is in Toronto and I’m technically more in Toronto than east coast, my husband is in the military so that’s why. (I’ll be back in April for a few months!…again.) So saying that, living in New Brunswick I still get asked often, let’s say weekly, for new places and ask for recommendations.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

It really depends on my mood. For a cheapy, fast and simple meal my family and friends hit up KOS in Kensington Market because we live close to it. But then there’s always dimsum where we hit up Rol San. If we want to shell out the money and drive then School in Liberty village is awesome.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

I’m always up for trying out new things but of course you always go back to the ones you love, you gotta show your love for the ones that matter most.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

Jimmy’s on Portland. They never let me down. Staff is always awesome, treats are always sweet and my drinks are always the way I want it. Small but great.

When and why did you start your food account?

Once I got back to New Brunswick in January after my family’s Christmas break I started a food account because I’ve been hounded my family and friends to start one. Those who know me know I’m a wild and crazy person but also kind of shy when attention is on me but when it comes to food I just can’t help myself so it made sense to do so. If you check my personal account @sayw0rd you’ll notice past photos of why it makes sense why I did.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

I wish I could narrow it down but I can’t. I remember too many great people and remember all the food I’ve had with them.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Lol, no. It’s always for the food. The food.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Rude employees. I just can’t tolerate people who make my dining experience an awful one but dessert usually helps in the end.

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

Too many to name.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

It’s just growing, expanding, learning, changing in great ways. Everything about it is also bringing everyone together.

If you were to create a restaurant, what would it be like?

I actually have something in mind and it’s ridiculous but I always thought it’d be neat for people to bring in ingredients and the chef just create or if they obviously didn’t bring in ingredients then they order ‘the surprise’. Lol, I’m big on surprises.

Who is your favourite chef?

My dad. I know that’s cheesy but it’s true and he does work in an awesome restaurant on king west. He’s the executive sous chef at Brassaii. He’s taught me a lot of things, not just cooking wise, and everything he’s ever made is amazing. The most hard working and well respected man in the industry.

Follow Jes on Instagram @jesforkingwithyou


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Didier Young @didier_yhc

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How did you get into food?

I was submerged into the food culture earlier on thanks to my parents who always encouraged me to educate my palate with new and exciting flavours. When it came time to go to college, I decided to apply for the Baking and Pastry Arts Management program at George Brown college and I have been working in the food industry ever since.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

I never get tired of eating good sushi.

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

Quite often these days and I am more than happy to provide them with recommendations. Going to different restaurants has become such a fantastic adventure and I am always more than happy to bring my loved ones with me on my food voyages.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

That’s a tough one. There are so many good brunch places in Toronto that it would be hard to single one out. Lately though I have been obsessed with The Big Crow, The Commodore and Maha’s.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

Toronto’s food scene has been evolving so quickly that there seems to always be new places to try out these days. While it is tempting to stick to the comfort of restaurants I love, there is a thrill in trying out new places may it be for the better or the worse.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

I adore Neo for it’s beautiful decor and fantastic matcha lattes. Sam James coffee bars always serve fantastic coffee but if I’m looking for one of them to chill at, I’d go to the Harbord location. Bar Buca and Bar Raval always serve fantastic coffee even though they aren’t coffee shops per se.

When and why did you start your food account?

My account started evolving into a food account about a year ago. I mostly started to post food photos to show my friends some of my favourite places to eat in the city and it kinda grew from there.

What is your hidden gem?

If I were to reveal that then it wouldn’t be a secret anymore would it? haha. If I were to mention a hidden gem then I’d probably say Petit Nuage. It isn’t a hidden gem per se because a lot of people do know about it but if you are not in the know, it can be a bit tricky to find the location. Located at 707 Dundas Street West, Petit Nuage serves the best macarons and roll cakes I’ve ever had in Toronto so far. Stephanie, the owner, also makes a mean matcha latte.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

Bar Buca. More precisely the porchetta schiacciata. That sandwich is the stuff that legends are made of.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Not a restaurant but I have gone to coffee places before based purely on the aesthetic of the place. Thankfully for me the coffee has been good so far.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Dirty rims on my plate.

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

One can only dream to one day eat at Noma. It’s a shame that they are closing their doors soon but it will be nice to see what chef René Redzepi comes up with in his next endeavor.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

How rapidly it is growing. For the longest time, Montreal has been the Canadian city known for its food scene but its safe to say that Toronto is rapidly catching up.

If you were to create a restaurant, what would it be like?

Lots of natural light, big windows, marble tables. Minimal overhead yellow lights. Nice, simple but well made food and locally roasted coffee with beautiful latte art. Preferably by Bruce Ly from Neo coffee bar. That man is a latte art God.

Who is your favourite chef?

Anthony Rose and Rob Gentile are both geniuses of the Toronto food scene. They are both equally great in my eyes.

Follow Didier on Instagram @didier_yhc


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Jonah Dimichele @jonahdimichele

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How did you get into food?

 I have always been into food since I was young. Having my grandfather as a chef of The Royal York made me so much more interested.

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

 At least 3 times a week, and I always recommend the same places!

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

 My favourite brunch spot has to be Wish in Yorkville.

When and why did you start your food account?

 I started my food account for one simple reason: food is my life. It is an opportunity to put myself out there.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

 The most memorable meal I have ever had in Toronto was at Buca King. After work we closed the kitchen and one of the chefs came up to me. They said what do you want for dinner? I had no clue what to choose because I had just started working there. All I could hear was everyone saying, “get the duck bigoli.” I did and it was by far the best pasta I have EVER had. I will never forget that moment.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

 My biggest pet peeve at a restaurant is when the food is amazing and the service is horrible. This is because a restaurant is not just about great food; the service HAS to meet the standards of the food.

What is one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

 The one restaurant I need to eat at before I die is Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, it is by far one of the best in my books.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

 My favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto is that we are such a multicultural city. We have great food and chefs from all over. Toronto has the best food scene (by far) in all of Canada.

Even going down to the St. Lawrence market early Saturday morning for me is a joy. I love seeing the fresh fish, produce, meats… and seeing everybody enjoy the same thing. This is why is food has such an importance in my life because what it does is bring people together and builds relationships.

Who is your favourite chef?

 I have three chefs that I look up too and want to follow their footsteps. These are Gordon Ramsay, Michael White of Marea and Rob Gentile of Buca. These three guys are like gods to me.

Follow Jonah on Instagram @jonahdimichele


 

TorEats Featured Taster: Amanda Katz @fudforthought

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How did you get into food?

No one anticipated my passion for food based on my lack of attention to it as a young child: only cottage cheese and cucumbers for Amanda. Soon thereafter, my interest was sparked. Although now I spend more time raving about restaurants and chefs than the meals I make at home, my love for food was driven in the kitchen. Yearly, I would visit my aunt’s cottage on Lake of the Woods. Before going, we would raid my grandmother’s garden for all of her finest fresh veggies and spend hours at several of the local grocery stores. Upon cottage arrival, we would pick berries, squash blossoms, peas, and anything else our mini orchard had to offer. The cottage (and my family) has always been centred around food. After waking up, and partaking in the necessary kayaks or swims along the lake, the afternoon was solely devoted to compiling the dinner menu based on our favourite chef of the year, then producing the food that inspired us most based on the ingredients that were within our reach. This year, it was Ottolenghi, but we have exhausted cookbooks by Vikram Vij, Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, and many others. Since the generation of my sophisticated palette, and this initial exposure to good food, my infatuation has only grown to this day.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

Peanut butter. If it’s on the menu (or in the cupboard), I’m on it, no if’s and’s or but’s.

When and why did you start your food account?

Out of personal interest, I have taken food pictures since I got my first digital camera to track where and what I ate on vacation. After some time, once my Blackberry finally gave out on me in grade 11, I used starting a ‘food instagram’ as a ploy to convince my dad to buy me the iPhone 5s, as I would get better use out of its higher-quality camera for my food blog. From that point forward, I’ve kept it up and increased my following, of course. Back then, 11 likes was a huge deal.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Honestly, people often complain about fast service. However, I find that fast service has become a huge pet peeve of mine. As restaurants tend to wish for a quick turnover rate to satisfy a large number of guests, they can disregard the experience that the diners look for. I love a long, staggered meal. Food should come out as it is ready, and I should have time to relax, drink a glass of wine, and digest a bit between courses. I want to enjoy my food at my own pace, and linger for a bit. So I’m sorry in advance if you’re waiting in line for my table; I’m not leaving anytime soon.

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

Osteria Francescana, #2 on The World’s 50 Best, owned by Chef Massimo Battura. I watched an episode of Chef’s Table about it on Netflix and I simply cannot remove it from my memory. For starters, Chef Massimo seems like the coolest man in the world. More importantly, he built up this hole in the wall restaurant in Modena from essentially nothing, and the food looks so intricate, thought-out, and beautiful, that I know I will be visiting there before I die. His evolution of classic Italian favourites into something modern and detailed is impeccable; I can’t wait to try it for myself.

If you were to create a restaurant, what would it be like?

My restaurant inspiration comes from 541 Eatery & Exchange, a non-profit restaurant in Hamilton that stole my heart this summer. The café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, baked goods, and most importantly, buttons! For $1, customers can purchase a button and put them in a jar to be used by those that cannot afford to buy a meal for themselves. As an active member of my community, my goal is to open up a similar-concept restaurant in an area that is in need of a turnaround. This non-profit restaurant has the potential to reduce poverty and hunger, while bringing members of the community together that would otherwise be detached. I dream of one day creating something like 541, providing food that is affordable, socially conscious, and ultimately DELICIOUS.

Who is your favourite chef?

As embarrassing as this may be, I’m still a SUCKER for Gordon Ramsay. I used to watch Hell’s Kitchen when I was young, and he is, to this day, my biggest celebrity crush. In the tenth grade when I went to LA, I insisted that we go to his LONDON restaurant. Upon our arrival, they told us that Gordon and his family were in the night before. I had a breakdown; I cried. It was immensely embarrassing; however, it goes to show that food really can have a large influence on a girl’s life. The meal was still fabulous. I can almost taste the sesame-encrusted lamb to this day.

Follow Amanda on Instagram @fudforthought


TorEats Featured Taster: Janice @janice.xo

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How did you get into food?

When I was young I used to think of eating as just another thing on the daily to-do list. Then I grew up and realized there was a lot more to food than just filling your stomach. The trend of posting food pictures definitely helped me realize the beauty of food and appreciate the effort put into the taste, presentation, and atmosphere.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

Carbs carbs carbs – especially garlic bread… how can something so simple taste so good?!

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

I definitely want to try new places every time I eat out, but if I feel like playing it safe, I’ll stick with my trusted favourites.

When and why did you start your food account?

Everyone else was doing it! I jumped on the bandwagon and never left. It’s also a good way of remembering what I did on a particular day, since eating is always on the itinerary.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

Sitting in front of the open kitchen at R&D was a really fun dining experience. I could see the kitchen in action and it was nice to be served directly by the chef. I also got to meet the Demon Chef himself, Alvin Leung!

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Of course! #DoItForTheInsta is the motto of my life.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Lack of water. I like to stay hydrated and it’s annoying having to flag down a waiter just to get a refill.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

There are so many restaurants and cuisines here, it’s amazing! You will never run out of new restaurants to try and you can taste food from around the world without leaving the city.

Follow Janice on Instagram @janice.xo


TorEats Featured Taster: Anhet @anhet_

How did you get into food?Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.55.00 AM

I think this is the hardest question in this interview so I left this question for the last! I mean, who doesn’t love food? I think during university, I started watching cooking shows during my spare time and I found it to be very meditative. For me chefs who can take some of the most ordinary ingredients and turn them into delicious dishes have always fascinated me. The amount of thought and detail that goes into these dishes is a piece of art. At the same time, the story behind the food and ingredients have always piqued my interest, so I guess you could say that was when I got into food.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

McDonald fries! Nothing beats the golden, crispy fries and they taste best when they are hot from the oil, and slathered in salt and dipped slightly in sweet ketchup! I usually try my best to not think about calories and gym when I am eating them. Seriously.

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

Before I started my food blog, almost no one asked. After I started, I get asked either daily or a few times a week .

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen! Although the price is a bit up there and the lineup seems never-ending, I love everything there. From the décor to the ambience to the most delicious and fluffiest pancake I have ever had. The restaurant itself feels elegant but not stuffy nor pretentious.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

As a food blogger, I always have to go to  new places! With that said, during important occasions such as birthdays or anniversary’s, I will stick to the ones that I love because I know for sure the food will be ah-mazing.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

This is hard to answer. It’s like asking to pick your favorite child! (I don’t have kids yet but you get the idea ). My favorite coffee shop probably has to be FIKA. While I haven’t been there for 2 months or so and the coffee is not the most amazing in the  city, it really is the ambience that makes up for it. Although FIKA is located in the middle of the city in Kensington Market, somehow the shop is always quiet and relaxing, which is perfect for me for when I need to do some blogging.

When and why did you start your food account? 

I was using Instagram for personal use, however when I started my blog in March 2015, I needed a place to promote my blog, and at that point Instagram was the “new “it” thing” so I decided to use my personal account as a food account.

Now the reason why I started my food account or food blog was because I use it as my “personal diary”, but instead of hiding it, I’m showing it to you guys! I love eating out and trying new food, however I couldn’t write my entire experience on Instagram so I decided a blog was the best place to record everything down.

What is your hidden gem?

My current hidden gem has to be Taste of Yunnan, and you will have to Google for the location!  I don’t like rice, but I love noodle soup and pasta! Taste of Yunnan has this amazingly delicious noodle soup called “Cross the Bridge” noodle and there is an actual story behind the name.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

The most memorable meal that I have ever had was at Richmond Station, and it is also one my favorite restaurants in Toronto. On that particular night, I had dinner with some of the friends that I barely knew, yet we were all sitting there sharing plates and joyfully losing ourselves in the sheer delight of tasty food. At that point, I realized how the bonding I was most comfortable with took place over food, and it has been something I try to re-create with all of my foodies outing and even in my blog as well.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Yes! I’m very active on social media outlets and you know how dangerous it is to scroll through instagram at night ;). There were times when I decided to go to restaurants purely because of some instagram-worthy pictures. Did it taste good though? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

It has to be when a restaurant offers you food without telling you whether it’s on the house or not. For instance, the food and service at this particular restaurant was impeccable, and prior to me ordering, a server offered me some snacks to munch on while looking at the menus. Thinking it was on the house, I didn’t mention anything as all of the tables next to me received the same thing. However at the end, I found out that specific snack cost $5 and the tables next to me did not know as well. I understand the restaurant wanted to make money, but why perform this kind of practice?

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

Noma in Denmark! They serve inventive Nordic cuisine and while the food there might not be the most delicious meal ever, it really is the experience and the philosophy of food by Chef Rene and his team that makes it one of the world’s best restaurants. I strongly recommend every foodie to watch Mind of a chef and Chef’s table; it will give you a unique look at a chef’s life, talents and passion for cooking

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

My favorite thing about the food scene in Toronto is its ethnic diversity. There are all kinds of restaurants to satisfy your craving, from poutine to Jamaican beef patty, or steaming hot bowls of noodles in Chinatown!

Who is your favourite chef?

Can I pick two!? It has to be Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay. Though I have never eaten at any of their restaurants, I really enjoy both of their personalities and their philosophy of food. For instance, a lot of Gordon’s rudeness was an act for American audiences, but on his UK shows he comes off as a lot more levelheaded. His AMA on Reddit has to be one of the best. There was a young chef who wanted to quit the industry and seeked Gordon’s advice, and he gave a very genuine suggestion. Jamie Oliver is truly an inspiration and I’m glad he is using his “celebrity” chef status to promote healthy eating. He’s also actively trying to investigate and change the way people consume sugar, you have got to watch his TedTalk and Jamie’s sugar rush show!

Follow Anhet on Instagram @anhet_


TorEats Featured Taster: Raymond @travellinfoodie

How did you get into food?rcua-elceller

I think it all starts from culture and upbringing. Eating is a way of life in our culture back in the Philippines. So growing up, talking about the next great restaurant to try is very normal. It also helps that my parents’ business is in the food industry, which got me taste testing various recipes and food.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

I’ll eat what I like without being guilty about it. 🙂

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

1-3 times every 2 weeks maybe.
Also usually when friends and family have people visiting, they’ll ask me a list of restaurants to take their visitors.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

Saving Grace. Love their french toast and espressado (avocado espresso shake), which is very unique.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

I do both. It really depends on the mood. If I want to be sure I’m not getting disappointed, then I’ll go to my usual places. But I also love trying new places since – you never know – it might just be the next best thing or end up better than a go-to place.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

  • Moonbean Coffee
  • Farenheit Coffee
  • Holy Oak
  • The Mad Bean

When and why did you start your food account?

I started my account near month-end Nov 2013, but I wasn’t that active until May 2014. I started it as a way for me to keep track of what I’ve eaten and what I thought about the food at that time – like a Food Diary basically. The food tasting and event invites I get are bonuses. 🙂

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

My most memorable (and most expensive meal) I had in Toronto is Charlie Burger – St. John dinner. It was my first Charlie Burger event so I was impressed with how they pulled off the secrecy and exclusivity. It was such a unique experience since they flew the entire team of St. John restaurant in London all the way to Toronto. I got to meet (and have a picture) with famous chef Fergus Henderson. And the food was amazing, with free flowing wine to boot! It was such a great experience.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

Usually no, unless it’s for an event or an invitational thing. I’d definitely want to eat what I’m taking a picture of! 🙂

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

My biggest pet peeve is when the food looks amazing in picture but nowhere as close (in looks or taste) in reality. It goes to show how important food photography is.

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

The one restaurant I really wanted to try before I die was El Bulli in Spain, which unfortunately was already closed by the time I got to visit Spain. Another one, which is getting less feasible as time passes, is Jiro in Japan. The most likely one I can do is French Laundry in California.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

Diversity. I think you can pretty much find at least one great restaurant for every cuisine in Toronto.

Who is your favourite chef?

Grant Achatz. When I ate at Alinea on 2008, it heightened my taste buds to so many new levels. Alinea was the first molecular gastronomy tasting I did and it just paved my quest to search for more. I’ve been to more top molecular gastronomy places since then, but it still doesn’t the match the imagination, artistry and creativity that Grant does.

Follow Raymond on Instagram @travellinfoodie


TorEats Featured Taster: Jennifer @jenniferkongg

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How did you get into food?

I’m always hungry – so I’m always looking for food!

What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

My biggest guilty pleasure would be anything to do with chocolate.

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations?

They ask periodically, usually after they see photos from the places I went to eat.

What is your favourite brunch place in Toronto?

I currently have two: Origin North and Portland Variety.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

It depends, usually if I find a place through Instagram and like how the food looks, I’ll give it a try. But I also tend to go back to places I really like and order the same thing every time!

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

Starbucks, Aroma, Himalayan Java House, Little Nicky’s

When and why did you start your food account?

It pretty much started a few years ago when I first got instagram and started sharing photos of my daily life. Since I’m always eating, more food appeared on my account and then it slowly became part of my routine to take photos of food before I ate it. I like posting all my food photos so there’s a collection of the places I’ve been and what I’ve had, it’s helpful when I’m giving recommendations and I hope others find it useful to see what the restaurants are serving as well!

What is your hidden gem?

This small dessert shop called Roselle, they have the cutest desserts and soft-serve ice cream, but they’re located pretty east on King street and not a place many people would stumble across.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

The most memorable meal in Toronto would be at the restaurant House of Chan, where I had huge stone crab claws all the way from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. They even had the crab sauces shipped from Miami as well! The steak there was also amazing.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

All the time! Currently living by the motto “Do it for the Insta”

What is your biggest restaurant pet peeve?

Dim lighting – it’s hard to take nice photos when the restaurants are so dark!

What is the one restaurant that you have to try before you die?

Drake’s new restaurant – Frings.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

My favourite thing is that there’s so much variety in food, sometimes I’m just overwhelmed with options when I’m downtown or even with all the food trucks roaming around.

If you were to create a restaurant, what would it be like?

If I were to create a restaurant it would a dessert place with a candy shop where all the items would be really photogenic and the interior of the restaurant would be extremely colourful and bright.

Who is your favourite chef?

Gordon Ramsay – I’m also a huge fan of his shows, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Kitchen Nightmares, and Ramsay Behind Bars.

Follow Jennifer on Instagram @jenniferkongg


TorEats Featured Taster: Grace @phone.eats.first

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How did you get into food? 

It’s quite surprising that I actually enjoy food now, those who knew me as a child or early teens know I hated everything but sweets. I became much more open minded about food just last year after being exposed to cooking shows and videos (I blame YouTube and procrastination). I’m so fascinated and impressed by the endless combinations and flavors one can create.

How often do your friends or family ask you for restaurant recommendations? 

You might’ve expected the opposite, but the truth is they rarely do. My family tends to go back to the usuals because they would know what exactly they are craving. However, my mother is a bit more adventurous; she once said “if we ever win a lottery, the first thing we HAVE to do is travel the world and eat!”. As for my friends, not many of them know about my Instagram feed, I don’t really talk about it.

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

I do have cravings for specific foods from specific places from time to time, and I love to explore for hidden gems in the city as I like to go to a new place every time I dine out. I think it’s important to try new things, and doing so also allows me to share exciting finds with my lovely followers.

When and why did you start your food account?

There are 2 stories: one prepared for my future employer and the other is the truth. Photography and film are my passions and I wanted to make use of those skills. It’s very heartbreaking when authentic local restaurants can’t compete with big chains because of the lack of exposure and resources they have. So I thought, “hey, let’s see what I can do to help”, so I began my food journey on Instagram in March of 2015 (I was seriously going to give up after a month, and I’m happy I persevered). On the other hand, a great friend of mine’s family recently opened a restaurant and I wanted to do everything I could to help them out, and this involved starting an Instagram account hoping to gain an audience so I can promote their food! Okay, both are truths, but the first one sounded better.

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph? 

Guilty. One time I walked 40 minutes in the 40° weather to find this ice cream shop I saw online which looked like it had gorgeous interior decor and desserts. All this just for a photo! I’m not even an ice cream person.

If you were to create a restaurant, what would it be like?

If I were to create a restaurant, all the dishes must be super “Instagram-worthy” (in other words, photo and filter-genic), mouth watering and so memorable that you’ll want to plan the next meal here before you finish your first! The interior will have high ceilings, gigantic windows as walls, and beautiful lights and paintings hung inside.

Follow Grace on Instagram @phone.eats.first


TorEats First Featured Taster: Olympia @thescrewballgirl

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What is your biggest guilty pleasure food?

I absolutely love old-fashioned style donuts. I don’t really like super fancy donuts or crazy flavors – I’d rather have a simple chocolate dipped or apple fritter. My favorite place is San Remo in Etobicoke. It’s a bit of a drive for me but well worth it!

Do you often go to new places or do you stick to the same ones that you love?

A bit of both. I love trying new restaurants but have a few favourites that I go to all the time. I live in London for most of the year so each time I come home I have a list of new places to try. It’s fun to explore new places after being away for a while, but it’s equally nice to go back to spots that I love.

What are your favourite coffee shops in Toronto?

My favourites are Jimmy’s Coffee on Portland Street and Ezra’s Pound on Dupont Street. I’m not a coffee aficionado (I just like plain black coffee). I think both shops are great and have good atmospheres.

When and why did you start your food account?

It was an unintentional decision. I started my Instagram account when I moved to London just over a year and a half ago. The only social media I used up until then was Facebook, and initially it was another way to stay connected to my friends and family at home. I was never one to photograph my food but I found that I kept posting pictures from places I visited in London, and my account grew from there.

What is the most memorable meal that you’ve had in Toronto?

My absolute favourite restaurant in Toronto is Campagnolo. They make really amazing home-style Italian food. They’re really creative with their menu. It changes a lot but they always have a few staple dishes, including my favourite: spaghetti all’amatriciana. It’s probably the dish I’ve featured the most on my Instagram because aside from being delicious, it photographs really well 😉

Do you ever go to a restaurant purely for the photograph?

I may have done that once or twice…:)

Who is your favourite chef?

My all time favourite is Scott Conant. I love him on Chopped and Scarpetta is one of my favorite Italian restaurants. I was so sad to see it close at the Thompson Hotel a few years ago!

Follow Olympia on Instagram @thescrewballgirl


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