Life / Food

A locavore's dream at The Brewer's Plate

The scene at the Brewer's Plate was a locavore foodie's dream. The

Wynchwood Barns was busy with some of Toronto's most talented chefs

preparing their delectable dishes alongside brewers offering tastes of

Canada's favourite beverage: beer.

After receiving a beer glass on the way in and a silk serviette,

hundreds of local food lovers and beer enthusiasts tried to work their

way around the room in pursuit of a mouthgasm in the marriage of food

and drink.

The plethora of beer on tap, from the bottle or in a can made

easy work of drinking for a living for the night. One of the first in

sight was a wheat beer. Weissbier by Denison's Brewing Company left a

subtle fruity aftertaste and was the best wheat beer on offer.

Surprisingly, what makes all wheat beer so tasty has nothing to do with

the wheat. "The wheat itself does not lend a lot of character to the

flavour. Tt's the yeast you use which gives a banana or bubblegum

flavour, and sometimes a bit of clove flavour," explains Michael

Hancock, the founding brewer and owner of Denison's Brewing Company.

Hancock's Weissbier certainly delivered on both the banana and

bubblegum flavours.

Some of the flavourful food fare included a succulent beef

skewer with roasted potatoes made by chef Marc Breton from The

Gladstone Hotel, which was the perfect appetizer in a many course meal.

Michael Steh of Red's Bistro prepared an easily devoured cheese and

broccoli soup that was hearty without being heavy.

Going around the room of flavours was like going around the

world as the food at The Brewer's Plate was a reflection of Toronto's

multicultural makeup. From the braised pork belly by Lora Kirk, to chef

Tawfik Shehata's fish tacos with homemade tortillas and smoked tomato

salsa, to a crumble and cupcakes prepared by LPK's Culinary Groove with

all organic and fair-trade ingredients, to chocolate with chili by

Chocosol, eating at the Brewer's Plate was like being a culinary


In fine Canadian form, the dessert prepared by Brook Kavanagh

from La Pallette included maple mascarpone cheesecake, poached pear,

walnut shortbread, cinnamon Chantilly and was served with Wellington's

beer. Wellington's Russian Imperial Stout - a specific brew for the

winter months - was just what the chef ordered as a compliment to the

tasty treat.

If there was one dish that stood out as a truly Canadian piece

of culinary cultural tradition, it was Jamie Kennedy's tortiere strudel

with winter salad and a mustard pickle. The ingredients were sourced

from the Kawarthas, Perth and Cookstown, and the idea for the dish was

French-Canadian. The savoury strudel was paired with Waupoos Premium

Cider, which has the particular distinction of not only being a subtle

cider without a harsh after bite, but also certified local sustainable

by Local Food Plus, carbon neutral and gluten-free.

From his explanation of the importance of events like the

Brewer's Plate, it's obvious why Kennedy was the inaugural recipient of

the Governor General's Award in celebration of the Nation's Table last


"It's celebrating local bounty as a way not only for all

of the economical benefits of supporting local economies and reducing

carbon footprints and all of the environmental things, but all these

things converge which is very nice," says Kennedy.

David Farnell, founder of Real Food for Real Kids, an

organization that prepares all-natural, organic meals and caters to

childcare centres, elementary schools and camps, sees the local issue

as one that combats larger companies that don't consider the

externalities like how far the food is shipped and the size of the

footprint as a result.

"As soon as you taste it you see that

there's a huge benefit to this. Then when you realize the money stays

in the local economy, it becomes a local living economy and that's the

full cycle."

And all the money spent for tickets to the event were held in

the local economy: the proceeds went to Not far from the Tree, a local

organization that harvests your fruit tree and splits the bounty

between the volunteers and the rest is delivered to food banks,

shelters and community kitchens.

As Canada's personal champion of all things, local, sustainable

and organic for your table, Kennedy believes cooking is "a wonderful

way to create a culture of a place" because people travel to find just

that a different culture or terroire.

The night did involve some travel for your taste buds. Pairing

single-serving mouth-watering items with locally brewed beer could

bring even the most ravenous appetite to the brink of food coma. The

only thing to carry you through was the thought of the tastes on offer

at the next station.