Just recently, a notable Toronto-based website announced that a Dim Sum Festival by Drink Inc. (the same folks that put on Toronto Wine & Spirit Festival) was headed for Toronto, an announcement that stirred up a whole lot of feelings. While many were excited about the new “food fest”, many were confused about one thing the event lacked in particular… Authentic Chinese dim sum eateries.
A quick click to the event website reveals that only 2 of the 17 vendors featured specialize in Asian cuisine – a fact that many online were quick to point out.
Some commenters even suggested that the event was westernizing the traditional Chinese cuisine.
And I won’t lie – I too, as an Asian woman who grew up eating dim sum every weekend, was confused about the event. Was this another Bon Appétit Pho Tip fiasco? According to Drink Inc. Operations Manager and Media Coordinator Miguel de Medeiros, it’s not. The main focus of the event is actually food sustainability.
“To clarify, [the event] isn’t just to celebrate dim sum,” Medeiros tells me. “We love dim sum but wanted to put on an event to raise awareness about sustainability in our food systems and this seemed like a good way to do it.” The event will raise money and awareness for Environmental Defence Canada and Sustainable Dim Sum‘s partners, Ocean Wise and Live Green Toronto. Medeiros also tells me the event was sensationalized and they do not consider themselves a festival. “We are an intimate event with limited space where you can come and eat some delicious food and learn about steps you can make to be more responsible in your choices.”
When asked about the lack of traditional vendors, Medeiros didn’t shy away from the truth, telling me, “We really wanted some traditional dim sum establishments to come out but of the many we reached out to, most didn’t get back or showed no interest in being involved.” But that’s not to say traditional eateries aren’t welcome. Owner of Drink Inc. Scott Rondeau has put feelers out, asking for the public’s help in finding more traditional vendors. Nonetheless, the organizers are happy with the vendors they do have on board, “These restaurants may not be traditional dim sum restaurants or chefs but they are the ones who are concerned about sustainability in our food systems.”
One of the chefs participating in the event is Chef Ricky Casipe, known for his delicious culture-infused dishes at Hawthorne Food & Drink. When asked what he thought about the lack of traditional dim sum vendors, he said we need not worry, “It’s a great opportunity for people to showcase what dim sum means to them in a creative way. It reflects Toronto’s diversity in cultures and food and its interpretation by different participants.” And while he hasn’t narrowed down his exact dim sum creation yet, event-goers can expect nothing less than mouth-watering, “One of my favourite dishes would be Siu Mai or soup filled dumplings. So definitely [expect] recreations of something like that. But with an Ontario flare. Perhaps, chowder filled dumplings.”
Also on the roster are pan fried pork dumplings with a secret twist from Cafe Belong, the famed Big Mac Bao from DaiLo, and of course, you can’t do a sustainable event without bugs. Scott Rondeau tells me, “We had a food scientist come out to our office yesterday and sampled Cricket Siu Mai. I smothered mine in soy and hot sauce but it was honestly pretty great!”
After learning what the event is really about, I’ve warmed up to the idea of it and am excited to see what participating chefs have up their sleeves. While sustainable cooking may not be the way of most traditional dim sum eateries, it is the way of the future.
Sustainable Dim Sum takes place on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Tickets to the event are $55 and includes one dim sum dish from each vendor and unlimited beverages. All proceeds go to Environmental Defence Canada. Get full details about the event here.
What do you think about the Sustainable Dim Sum event? Let Vv Magazine know in the comment section below or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.