Eat to the Beat took place on November 1, 2016 at Roy Thomson Hall, marking the 21st year of the annual fundraiser in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! Sisters Lisa and Abby Slater announced that over $3.9 million has been raised by the event since its inception in 1995.
The event brings together sixty female chefs from some of Toronto’s greatest restaurants, catering companies, and eateries to prepare delicious signature bites. Guests can also enjoy a selection of twenty drink stations that include wine, beer, spirits, and non-alcoholic options. Considering the vast number of stations to enjoy, it’s no surprise how bustling and lively this event can get throughout the night!
The event is an informal party that takes place throughout the main lobby space of the beautiful Roy Thomson Hall. The vast windows allow for the area to feel more expansive than it actually is, so even when you’re trying to sneak around the swarms of supporters to grab delicious treats, you never actually feel overwhelmed or crowded.
I’m going to jump right into a selection of my favourite items from the night: Christine Ostiguy created a hand-cut chip topped with parsnip mousse, Ontario smoked trout, and accented the entire experience with lemon and horseradish preserves. Flavours were subtle, and complemented each other so well!
Emily Richards treated guests to a balsamic roasted pear wedge, wrapped in prosciutto with Gorgonzola dip. Though a little salty for my liking, it was definitely a crowd favourite!
Citizen Catering made miso bonito & lime broth, with winter greens, mushrooms, and noodles. It was nice to know that despite the majority of dishes containing meat, some chefs and stations were creating vibrant vegetarian options for guests.
Andrea Poirier’s chai-spiced chocolate flourless marquise cake didn’t have that heavy-handed spiciness that can come with anything involving chai. It was chocolaty, rich, and had a great overall warmth.
Bonnie Gordon’s team served macarons in a variety of flavours, alongside some beautifully decorated, and absolutely delicious, homemade chocolates. I couldn’t take my eyes off these truffles, with their delicate gold accent.
Karen Viva-Haynes surprised me with her pistachio wafers with crème fraiche and fresh herbs. These may not look like much, but they pack an absolute punch of flavour and keep you coming back for more. I’m going to be keeping my eye out for these in the grocery store!
I’m guessing Lynne Mendelson’s million dollar bars are milk chocolate topped with almond, on a toffee or caramel-type base, but she won’t tell anyone what’s in them! I have to admit I had multiple samples of these throughout the night, and have come to the conclusion that they’re worth every penny!
Carrot & ginger soup with coconut lime cream, and sticky rice ball.
Cathy Beneway’s wonton cup with Asian salad topped with almonds and spicy dressing. The vegetarian option is pictured here, but it also came in an omnivore-friendly flavour.
Temple Kitchen had Chef Johnson prepare a roasted breast of duck on crispy polenta with a green peppercorn and wild blueberry chutney dish.
So there was quite a bit of meat-heavy dishes at the event, but The Chef’s Table offered up vegan take on the BLT: coconut-bacon, roasted tomatoes, spicy lentil and avocado puree, on whole grain baguette with thinly sliced cucumber pickle. This was absolutely delicious. If coconut “bacon” is something you’re a bit apprehensive about, this was a great way to see its’ flavour potential.
Caroline Reid cooked up some simple but flavourful house-cured duck pastrami with celery root salad, hazelnut puree and vincotto (translates to “cooked wine” and comes from various regions in Italy including Veneto, Lombardy, and Apulia). The hazelnut puree wasn’t the first note to come through, but really carried the dish well.
Xola restaurant, located far out on the Queen East stretch, had my favourite treat of the entire event! Xola Ceviche included haddock marinated in freshly squeezed lime juice, coconut milk, habanero pepper, pico de gallo, and avocado served with homemade corn chips. Wow. Crisp flavours that weren’t muddied or overpowered by the citrus, and really lovely visually with a slight pop of colour. I have yet to visit the restaurant itself, but will absolutely be doing so in the near future after trying their station at Eat to the Beat.
The Drake 150 team was keeping it fun and delicious, as they usually do, by presenting adobo pulled pork steam buns with daikon pickles, sesame and crispy garlic! Yes, their display was messy, but it was totally worth it.
I ended the night with this Jasmine cream puff that takes the gold for dessert. It was simple, but absolutely delicious and not as heavy as one would expect from such a large piece of choux pastry. The jasmine notes were light and flowery, but never took on an artificial perfume presence as can sometimes happen with things like jasmine, lavender, or rose. Delicate, and amazing!
Alright, if all that deliciousness wasn’t enough to tempt you into attending the 2017 Eat to the Beat party, consider the amazing work and valiant battle of those currently affected by breast cancer. Please keep an eye out for further information regarding fundraisers and auctions hosted by Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and their partners. Hope to see you there!