On any given day in Toronto, you can hear the rumblings and smells of what’s cooking in little venues throughout the city. Some happenings are purposefully built facilities, like The Depanneur, Aphrodite Cooks, and others are found in places re-purposed for just a one-off special event. Welcome, to the pop-up, Toronto. It’s about time!
We’ve seen a rise in small events popping up, hush-hush at first, with talented chefs working their charms on exclusive menus to all-out sponsored affairs. In Europe and in the US, this has been embraced with open arms, while in Toronto, it has taken us a bit longer.
The Depanneur is a purpose built establishment that hosts pop-ups. The venue’s owner, Len Senater, explains that “the Dep facilitates grassroots spontaneity by providing a place where new culinary talents can try their chops (literally and figuratively) and cook dishes that are unique in flavour and culture.”
During any given week, The Dep hosts public supper clubs on the weekends and private supper clubs if booked. This particular trend has been growing as the influx of condo owners in Toronto are looking to entertain but do not have the space to do so. Mondays are classes/workshops, Tuesday Len cooks, Wednesday resident Chef Quinn Cruise cooks utilizing Fresh City Farms donations to make something wonderful while acting as a drop off point (paying it forward), Thursday Len highlights student chefs, and then Friday drop-in dinners happen where Len opens his kitchen up to local chefs to create a meal to sell to the public.
Peter Minaki is one such great cook whose authentic Greek cuisine has been featured at The Dep as a prototypical pop-up talent. Another, Shinji Yamaguchi (owner of Guishi), has transformed his passion for food by embracing the pop-up to boost his following and cook unique dishes not normally served at his own restaurant.
Both are self-taught, both create really delicious food and can be found utilizing social media to broadcast their menus and entice their hungry followers to events.
These are but two of the great and talented chefs in Toronto; there are too many to mention all at once, but what is most important is many can be found cooking at pop-ups throughout the city.