I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again at some point. If you don’t know The Stop Community Food Centre, Toronto, you really should. If you love good food (make that really amazing food) and/or your community, there’s something about The Stop that you’ll love.
The Stop began over 30 years ago as one of North America’s first food banks, and has grown into a vibrant community centre, using food as a gateway to addressing many issues, including poverty, the environment, social isolation, and health in one of Toronto’s lowest-income neighbourhoods. The Stop’s mission is to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds community and challenges inequality. The Stop’s two locations in the city help work towards this goal in different ways. At the main office at 1884 Davenport Rd., frontline services are provided to the community, including a drop-in centre to feed the hungry, food bank, and community advocacy. The Stop’s Green Barns at 602 Christie Street serves as a sustainable food production and education centre, complete with state-of-the art greenhouse and event space.
It’s a pretty incredible concept behind a place that works to help the community on multiple levels. I’m not the only one that thinks so. Much of Toronto’s restaurant community has a great affection for what this organization strives to accomplish. Which is a good thing – because The Stop also really knows how to throw a party. It’s helpful having over 30 of the city’s best chefs and their teams eager to help out when you want to entertain.
That’s exactly what happened November 7, 2012 for the eighth annual What’s On The Table. Known as “the city’s favourite foodie fundraiser” featured an almost dizzying array of decadent and creative food from dozens of Toronto’s top restaurants, several fine Niagara wineries, Steamwhistle Pilsner, as well as live and silent auctions. As usual all funds raised help support The Stop’s critical and innovative anti-poverty and anti-hunger programs.
Other than the fact that attending WOTT (as the event’s name is affectionately abbreviated) generally leaves me in a total food coma, I see the event as a win- win situation. Everyone who attends experiences the adventure of trying a huge variety of really creative food all in one location, in the company of others that like to eat, have a good time, and support good work in the community. (Generally, those tend to be interesting people). And the community, in turn, benefits. As for my gluttony, well, it’s tough not to indulge when faced with delicacies as varied and tempting as Ontario water buffalo manti with yogurt and sumac.
(Beast Restaurant), Red Fife pancakes with roasted pork belly (The Gabardine), blueberry balsamic doughnuts (Paulette’s) and beaujolais macarons (Nadege Patisserie). These were all favourites, plus melt-in-my-mouth good beef on weck by Parts & Labour, salted caramel hot chocolate by Soma (I can never say no), and an outstanding carrot and ginger cake by The Harbord Room. And for the record, I don’t even like carrot cake….but this one was magic.
Really, all the food was phenomenal – made even better by the good cause. There’s almost too much to mention here, or perhaps my food coma has rendered me blissfully speechless. So if you don’t already know The Stop, take some time to get familiar with their work, and be sure not to miss out on the party that What’s On The Table 2013 is sure to be.
Editor's Note: According to show organizer, this year's festival raised $270,000 for the organization and their programs.
What's On The Table 2012
Written by Michelle Jobin
Michelle Jobin is a television producer and host whose work has been featured across Canada and internationally, on networks including Global Television, and CTV. She has been fortunate to cover a wide variety such as Toronto’s vibrant food scene, national weather forecasts, breaking news on tensions in the middle east, and international celebrities on the red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival. As a writer she likes to feature some of the good things in life: food, travel and the arts. Michelle credits her hometown of Toronto and its fascinating diversity for helping to foster her love of travel and experiencing different cultures and cuisines. Recent favourite trips include: Taiwan, a blissful week in Barcelona, and the San Francisco area. A longer trip will call her back to Spain next year, and she hopes to include a few Scandinavian destinations, Japan, and somewhere in the South Pacific to her passport in the near future.