I have met Chef Scott Savoie during my stops at 86′d Mondays at the Drake Hotel. Every time I see him there, he always welcomed with a warm hug and a jolly smile. Through our conversations on those nights I learned that his business was on unique food tours in and around Toronto. The Culinary Adventures Company have its unique twist that the food tour would be more indulgent as it would be in a company of a chef, giving more highlights and foodie tips and trivia with each destination stop. Highly successful and popular with both locals and tourists, his company was now on its third year. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being invited to The Culinary Adventures Company’s 3rd Season Launch Party at the sleek B1 Lounge by Bathurst and College.
I came to the party with my EyeCandyTO partner-in-crime, Abe Wornovitzky. Finding parking by the side street Manning, Abe and I had an easy distance to walk to B1 Lounge’s entrance. Seeing the red carpet reception and photo booth on the entrance, I realized Chef Scott has pulled out all the stops and went all out for the launch. I had this rush of a guilty pleasure how it was to be pampered and I was just at the entry of the doorway. Walking in, we saw Chef Scott immediately and I got my big hug right away. He told us to start by the bar to grab martinis and to meet some of the restaurants that were part of his food tours.
That was when I started paying attention to the sleek venue. Handsome stained paneling on the walls, a massive rectangular bar right in the middle of the room and lush seating/lounging areas and cozy lighting made the space. The music was loud but not loud enough to mute the foodie conversations all around me. Abe and I stopped by the bar to check out Cottonwood Agency‘s offering for the night. It turned out to be cranberry vodka martinis. It was entertaining to watch the bartender let the vodka slide through the middle of an ice sculpture to chill the vodka. I didn’t plan on drinking but I conceded to having one just to watch it all over again. I am easily entertained that way :)
Leaving the bar, the next one that peaked our interest was the naked sushi table. I must say I must have the same reaction as most, gawking over the two persons who were lying on the buffet table with the sushi plated on their tummies, legs and arms. And just like most people, I went snapping pics of the sushi presentation. Abe was most amused, hearing people politely apologize for each time they take a sushi. I can see the girl make an effort stop herself from giggling of the comments she must have heard. I imagine it must be difficult to stay serene, perfectly immobile and not to react when she tried to comfort them that it was all good and okay. I imagined that they probably also do artistic posing/modelling. I remember that used to boggle me how models could just be in one position for a long duration of time.
Moving further in the room, I got distracted with a row of buns, sitting prettily in a wooden slab. It turned out to be Sang Kim’s Yakitori Bar Bulgogi Sliders. I have tried Sang Kim’s restaurant months ago and I must say his food was my idea of comfort. Those buns were definitely one of my favorites for the night. Right across the Bulgogi sliders table was a row of Chinese Takeout boxes containing Vegetarian bibimbap. Sang Kim’s food was always an interesting and engaging experience. Not only did they taste good, they were also surely photogenic.
We later moved on to Udupi Palace‘s row of buffet style table. They had a row of fresh naan bread, pakoras and Chana Bature. Of course, Abe and I started playing with our food, plating it nicely for a quick photo-op. I heard there were about 9 restaurants on site. At the rate Abe and I were going, I was thinking I surely would be too full by the time the night was over.
Our next stop was Kalofagas Saganaki Flaming Cheese. I must say this was my most favorite in entertainment value. Peter Minaki sure do know how to engage foodies and bloggers as he gamely gave us forewarning when was the best time to get the money shot. It took me three times to showcase the burst of the flame once he added the ouzo to the crusted Saganaki cheese. Once I got my shot, I felt so giddy at the frame I managed to record. I managed to get the flame, Peter shouting “Opa!” and the crowd with excited expectant stares. I don’t think I could have done better if I tried a fourth time. Truthfully speaking, I wanted to stand there all night to get more exposures. But then a foodie in me also wanted to check out the other food booths. It was a constant battle in my head during food events, “Do I shoot or Do I eat?”. Nice dilemma to have, wasn’t it?
We then moved on to the southeast corner of the room and found Cheesewerks. Looking forward to some ooey, gooey cheese, owners Kevin Durkee and Tom Douangmixay told us that they had two offerings for the night, Beijing Mac N Cheese (Asiago, Chinese BBQ Pork, Hoisin and Green Onion) and Charleston Mac N Cheese (Double Cream Brie, caramelized Onions and Apricot Chutney). I, of course, gravitated towards the pork option as Asian flavors balanced with the saltiness of savory cheese was always a winner in my book.
I must also note the elegance of eating with real heavy forks and ceramic sampling platters. That level of detail and indulgence from Chef Scott was surely appreciated by this foodie. Same as for the attentive servers, quickly and discreetly cleaning up the small platters and containers. With such a big crowd, it could easily be chaotic but the affair was very good in keeping everything organized.
Squeezing my way towards Fuel House Toronto‘s food booth, the centerpiece on their booth was a perfectly roasted piglet. They told me it took them about 3 hours to roast and that it was available and served family style in their restaurant. For the night, they dished out pork tacos garnished with fresh produce. This dish was clearly my most photogenic image of the night. I really love it when chefs give so much attention to presentation. I always believed that we start devouring a meal with our eyes. The follow through was a good bite and the flavors resonated leaving me enjoying a well-thought out pork taco. My friend Abe would probably tell you that I normally don’t gush over tacos but for me to finish a taco goes without saying it was a taco that I would come back for.
Thinking that we were already tried all savory dishes for the night, we went for the chocolate fountains of Amore. There were three options of chocolate fondues: milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate. I always had a weakness for the bitter dark kind so I asked for a strawberryto be coated with dark chocolate. Sorry to say that I didn’t get a good picture of it. I had to eat right away as it was hard to shoot it properly. My attempts only gave me blurred images. LOL. On my second try, I asked for a marshmallow dipped on dark chocolate. This time around I had Abe to hold it for me. While I was shooting, I was given another beautifully white chocolate coated marshmallow with a marbling of the milk chocolate. It never occurred to me to play with chocolate fondue that way and it was such a treat once again to learn something new. Of course, after countless pictures of that marshmallow, it went straight to my willing tummy. Next time I get to try chocolate fondue once again, I think I would start making mine the same way.
As we headed back to the front of the lounge, I saw that we missed one savory booth that was BruDa Restaurant. Abe told me that what they were handing out were risotto with chorizo. Hearing the words risotto and chorizo could make me stop and pay attention. Despite already having my sweet, I have to go back eating savory as risotto was always something I could not bypass. Having chorizo on it was like the icing on the cake. Approaching their booth, I recognized Top Chef Season 2 contestant Gabriell Cruz tending on the pot of risotto. It surely increased the expectation about the dish. And what a dish it was. I wished I had a whole plate. The risotto was well-seasoned, perfectly cooked and the chorizo gave it a richness this foodie certainly loved. I was glad it was my last dish to eat as I enjoyed its lingering taste on my palette.
Thank you Chef Scott for having EyeCandyTO on your very successful Season 3 launch. We really had a good time trying out all the food from the restaurants that are part of your food tour. We surely wish your company many more years of engaging foodies, locals and tourists alike, on different food experiences here in Toronto!
Here are the list of Participating Chefs/Restaurants for Culinary Adventures Food Tour