Last week, I was invited to a delicious luncheon at The Chef Upstairs in the Eglinton and Mount Pleasant area of Toronto. This event was hosted by tasteUS, an organization that works with American-based cooperators to bring foods north of the border to Canada. While eating local is, of course, preferable by many, there are some items that cannot be found in Canada due to season or climate. The United States exports to Canada almost $19 billion dollars (US) of agriculture according to statistics provided by Scott Reynolds, the Minister-Counsellor of Agricultural Affairs at the US Embassy in Ottawa. Mr. Reynolds also attended the event and briefly addressed participants.
Flatbread and watermelon salsa, served to attendees before the start of the sitdown meal
Prepping the crostini for the starter
The event was attended by food and lifestyle media as well as marketing and PR professionals and retailers. The event started off with conversation and mingling with representatives from tasteUS over flatbreads and watermelon salsa, which was prepared ahead of time, followed by a three course, sit-down meal. It was a semi-hands-on approach as the chef picked volunteers to help him prepare the meal while the rest of the attendees watched.
The pear and goat cheese crostinis, plated
Thyme-scented chicken with roasted apples
First up was a goat cheese crostini with balsamic-glazed pear. The pears were sliced into very small pieces and placed on tiny pieces of bread along with goat cheese and then drizzled with balsamic vinegar. This was followed by a main course of thyme scented chicken with roasted apples, pancetta and garlic. Because the chicken takes longer to cook, the chef asked volunteers to work on the main before the appetizer. Volunteers rubbed herbs and oil into the pieces of chicken, which consisted of both breasts and thighs. It was cooked in the oven at about 375 F for approximately 40-45 minutes along with sliced, unpeeled apples and garlic which were added half way through. Dessert was a pastry filled with peach compote and sprinkled with sugar. Aesthetically, however, the pastry looked a bit plain, especially on a white plate – it could have used a drizzle of some kind.
Filling the peach pastry
Peach pastry, plated
The lunch was not only a great way to promote tasteUS, but also provided networking opportunities for many attendees.