TUM: Toronto Underground Market

Is it a farmer’s market? Is it a food festival? No. It’s TUM! A new kind of social food market for the community to sample the food of Toronto’s home cooks; a venue for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their products.

Toronto is a hotplate of culinary activity. This much we know. In September 2011 an underground market surfaced at the Evergreen Brickworks that took the lid off every local cook’s ambitions, and left every food enthusiast poised to mark their calendar with details of the next Toronto Underground Market.

Inspired by a San Francisco market that showcases home cooks, dishes for TUM include ingredients come from the Brickworks market, and recipes from local imaginations. The setting of the Brickworks provides for a rustic, indie feel of culinary exhibits:

A Graphic Designer by trade, Liora Ipsum, has found a happy medium between food art direction and styling with The Picnic Society. Lemonade, the quintessential item to have around a picnic, is her entry point. Watermelon, basil lemonade; Brown sugar vanilla lemonade; and Cherry amaretto. We try them all.

Troy Kelly from Big Smoke Coffee offers coffee, pork belly with a coffee rub, and bread pudding. Big Smoke roasts its own coffee out of Rexdale—single origin from Costa Rica. It’s also the marinade for the pork, and the crème anglais. The cheese for their sandwich has coffee in it, as do the hot sauce and the marinade for the pickles.

At Albert’s Ice Cream Sandwiches, I ask, “Why smoked salmon ice cream?” The answer, “why not?” And for those bold enough to try it, the consensus is positive: smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon all go together well…as an ice cream. This has allowed the opportunity to see what the reaction would be to a flavour of ice cream that people won’t normally see. How do you come up with your flavour combinations, I ask Albert Tan. “Alcohol” he laughs.

For Chef Randy Rojas of Kii Restaurant it’s a chance to show his own creative vision. “I don’t own a kitchen, but I can cook here”, he tells me. “It’s been amazing. It’s very cool to engage customers. To actually see and talk with people”. Sean Santo of the Park Hyatt assembled a collective as a fun way to express through food “the values that we hold dear in terms of seasonality, and local freshness.”

What do you get when you cross a web designer and a butcher? West Side Beef. Barbequed beef with coleslaw and a homemade pickle in a brioche bun is so tender and savoury, we want to buy all the grass-fed dry-aged beef they’ve got. “People sign up online, and when we have some beef, we send out an email saying, hey we’re going do a side next week” Ryan Donovan tells me. “Fifteen people email and say we want some—done.”

An agora of culinary delights and picnic tables, it’s about having fun and sharing with people by taking care of our TUM.

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