Toronto's first sake festival, Kampai, will take place at the Distillery District next week in the Fermenting Cellar. I had the chance to chat with festival organizer, Vivian Hatherell about the country's largest celebration of Sake.
Over 35 breweries from Japan, USA, and Canada will be pouring their sakes at Kampai Toronto next week. It's the first event of its kind in the city, and the nation's largest with over 100 sakes available to taste. Below is my Q&A with Hatherell about the upcoming event.
Suresh Doss: So this is Toronto's first ever sake festival?
Vivian Hatherell: Yes, certainly at this scale, in this spirit and at a downtown venue. ; LCBO Vintages held a Sake 101 event in 2011, but it had less brands, was more formal and it was held up north at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.
SD: It's also the largest festival of its kind in Canada.
VH: Yes, confirmed with colleagues in BC (who arguably have a more developed sake market than Ontario) that nothing of this size has been put on out there.
SD: Sake is an under appreciated beverage in Toronto in my opinion, what can a sake newbie expect at your event?
VH: There are 100+ styles to sample, many premium, so it's a great way to try many different types and grades. It's a great opportunity to be exposed to premium sake, higher-grade sake that is typically served chilled. Novices may also enjoy fruit-infused options, Ontario and US-made styles (which may suit a more novice-style palate) plus sake cocktails which will be provided by two of our Restaurant partners, Ki Modern Japanese and Blowfish.
SD: What about a Sake afficionado. What can they expect?
VH: With 100+ brands, about half are not found at the LCBO. So many are limited availability products—some making their Ontario debut at Kampai. ; Iconic brands like Dassai, Amanoto, Nanbu Bijin, Hakkaisan, Yoshinogawa, Rihaku. Those with vip tickets will also have access to Kampai's Professional Sake Seminar and Structured Tasting, led by Ontario's only advanced sake professional Michael Tremblay.
SD: I noticed you have some breweries from the US present. What's sake culture like in the US?
VH: As with most drink phenomenons, sake appreciation is much more developed in the US, particularly in urban markets like NY, LA, Vegas, Miami, Chicago. With Japanese food now the number one food category in Manhattan, sake is ubiquitous, particularly premium sake. ; Of course there are many more sake brands available in the US. But another big difference is how widely sake is found in these markets—not only in Japanese/Modern Japanese restaurants, but in many fine dining establishments (e.g., French Laundry, Charlie Trotters) and at Thai, Chinese, Latin, Indian and contemporary restos.
Kampai takes place next Thursday at the Distillery District.
Tickets are $75 and are available online at Kampai's website below.
Thursday, May 31st 2012
630pm – 9pm
Powered By DT Author Box
Written by Suresh Doss
Suresh Doss is the publisher of SpotlightToronto.com and Rickshawmag.com. Founder of the Food Truck Eats festival, Suresh has been a pioneer for the Street food movement in Toronto. In 2011, He was awarded the VQA Promoter’s Award for outstanding achievement in the Media category in the promotion of Ontario VQA Wines. Suresh is also the Global Editor for Whitecap’s StreetEats series of travel guides, which focuses on the best street food across North America.