Toronto Catering Showcase Season Two!

One of my favourite foodie events and experiences is coming back (thankfully) for a second season and it's all going down in just over a month's time on October 15th, 2017 from 12PM to 4PM. The Toronto Catering Showcase was such a huge success in its inaugural event last fall that it's no surprise the demand to have it again this year was buzzing.

In case you missed attending last year, The Toronto Catering Showcase is held at The Bram & Bluma Appel Salon inside the Toronto Reference Library bringing together twelve of Toronto's most notable and talented culinary masters in the catering world. The setting is elegant and luxurious, an ambiance of a live band playing on stage sets a relaxing and casual mood, and the best part of it all is of course the all-access pass to an afternoon of pure epicurean indulgence.

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What sets this event apart from the other food festivals and events in this city is just how organized and simple they make it for us attendees. Once you show them your pre-paid ticket at the front door the world inside is basically your oyster. There are no drink or food tickets you need to buy. In fact there is no need to even bring cash or a credit card. Once you get in it's an all-you-can-eat and drink affair and you can basically hop from one vendor to the next at your discretion eating and drinking to your heart's content. You can even go back to the same vendor time and time again to grab the same dish if you choose to do so, but my suggestion is to save room in your stomach to try a dish from each vendor first before going back for seconds!

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Below are the twelve caterers this year that have dedicated their careers to the art of fine food and exceptional presentation in which you will experience first hand while attending.

1) 10tation Event Catering

2) The Food Dudes

3) Drake Catering

4) Encore Catering

5) Treeline Catering

6) Presidential Gourmet

7) en Ville Event Design and Catering

8) MaRo Catering

9) Toben Food By Design

10) Kiss The Cook Catering

11) Daniel et Daniel

12) Elle Cuisine

As there is an all-you-can-drink element in this (and yes I'm talking about alcohol), this is indeed a 19+ event. General admission tickets start at $65 if you purchase them now online by clicking HERE, and a limited number of tickets will be sold at the door for $80.

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New to this year is if you do plan to drive down to the event, complimentary valet parking will be provided by Adagio Valet Service, and every ticket purchased this year will also automatically enter you in a draw to win a prize! This is an event you do not want to miss out on so grab the tickets before they are sold out! Hope to see you all there!

20 of the Best and Most Outrageous Eats at CNE 2017

With this year's Canadian National Exhibition starting this Friday from August 18th to September 4th, I'm here to give you all an early preview of what outrageous and down-right crazy culinary concoctions you'll find this year at the CNE. From deep fried everything, to indulgent desserts, dragon breath crepes, chicken feet on a stick, and crunchy insects, you'll find an array of things to try. If you're feeling brave enough you may even find yourself experiencing something you would never have thought you would be digesting (I'm looking at you crickets!) But what the heck, food has become an unofficial "main event" at the CNE so now would be the perfect time to inhale something crazy and unexpected. YOLO right?

So remember to come to the CNE with an open-mind and an empty stomach this year, because below is a breakdown of the best and most outrageous eats you just gotta try!

1) Last Samurai from Yatai

Fried chicken with a burger patty in between a ramen bun.

Fried chicken with a burger patty in between a ramen bun.

2) Sugar Mountain from Cake Shack

Brownie stacked with a scoop of cheesecake, as well as a sugar cone dipped in white chocolate, confetti doughnut, cotton candy, powdered sugar.

Brownie stacked with a scoop of cheesecake, as well as a sugar cone dipped in white chocolate, confetti doughnut, cotton candy, powdered sugar.

3) The Juicy Oink from Hot Bunzz Street Cuisine

Slow roasted five-spice pork belly, slow roasted pulled pork shoulder, sweet longanisa, crispy pork skin, and a Shanghai pork soup dumpling, topped with Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and honey apple slaw.

Slow roasted five-spice pork belly, slow roasted pulled pork shoulder, sweet longanisa, crispy pork skin, and a Shanghai pork soup dumpling, topped with Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and honey apple slaw.

4) Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich from Chloe's Doughnut Ice Cream

Ice-cream available in a variety of flavours, served inside a freshly-baked doughnut/churro.

Ice-cream available in a variety of flavours, served inside a freshly-baked doughnut/churro.

5) Double Crab Mac Burger from Fidel Gastro

A food truck serving up single or double deep fried crab patty burger for the East-Coast Kitchen Party.

A food truck serving up single or double deep fried crab patty burger for the East-Coast Kitchen Party.

6) All Canadian Red Hot Burger + Pancake Bacon Tacos from Bacon Nation

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes stuffed with a combination of fried and scrambled egg, topped with tomato, green pepper, onion and maple bacon strips, drizzled with chipotle syrup + Canada 150 inspired All-Canadian Red Hot Burger.

Fluffy buttermilk pancakes stuffed with a combination of fried and scrambled egg, topped with tomato, green pepper, onion and maple bacon strips, drizzled with chipotle syrup + Canada 150 inspired All-Canadian Red Hot Burger.

7) Dragon's Breath Crepe from Eative

Ice-cream crepe combined with liquid nitrogen.

Ice-cream crepe combined with liquid nitrogen.

8) Peanut Butter Sriracha Bites from Fran's Restaurant

Deep fried sweet dough stuffed with a peanut butter Sriracha filling, dusted with cinnamon icing sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup.

Deep fried sweet dough stuffed with a peanut butter Sriracha filling, dusted with cinnamon icing sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup.

9) Pancake Bowls from Eat My Bowls

A pancake breakfast bowl with scrambled eggs and maple syrup.

A pancake breakfast bowl with scrambled eggs and maple syrup.

10) Cookie Monster & Campfire Smore's Cones from Chimney Stax

Rotisserie-baked breads filled with soft-serve, chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows, and whipped cream.

Rotisserie-baked breads filled with soft-serve, chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows, and whipped cream.

11) Strawberry Shortsteak from Philthy Philly's

Cheesesteak covered in provolone cheese, topped with strawberry sauce and icing sugar, sandwiched between a sweet doughnut bun.

Cheesesteak covered in provolone cheese, topped with strawberry sauce and icing sugar, sandwiched between a sweet doughnut bun.

12) The Colossal Coliseum from San Francesco's Italian Sandwiches

Breaded veal and a pulled pork panzerotti on a Kaiser bun with sweet BBQ sauce, creamy slaw and jalapenos, topped with two deep fried brownies.

Breaded veal and a pulled pork panzerotti on a Kaiser bun with sweet BBQ sauce, creamy slaw and jalapenos, topped with two deep fried brownies.

13) Deep Fried Chicken Feet from Coco Concessions

Crispy chicken feet served on a stick.

Crispy chicken feet served on a stick.

14) Cheese Stuffed Doritos from Farm to Fryer

Marble cheddar coated in a Dorito crust and deep fried.

Marble cheddar coated in a Dorito crust and deep fried.

15) Vegan Poutine from Dutch Frites

Crispy hand-cut fries in partnership with the vegan Toronto restaurant Planta.

Crispy hand-cut fries in partnership with the vegan Toronto restaurant Planta.

16) Rolled Grilled Cheese Dippers from Melt My Heart

Grilled cheese, rolled up made for dipping, served with a sauce of your choice.

Grilled cheese, rolled up made for dipping, served with a sauce of your choice.

17) Cricket Cone from Bug Bistro

Vanilla soft serve, coated in toasted coconut, topped with chocolate roasted crickets.

Vanilla soft serve, coated in toasted coconut, topped with chocolate roasted crickets.

18) Deep Fried Spaghetti Doughnut Balls from Fritta

Fried spaghetti ball tossed with sugar and cinnamon or mixed with fresh Italian herbs and parmesan cheese.

Fried spaghetti ball tossed with sugar and cinnamon or mixed with fresh Italian herbs and parmesan cheese.

19) Deep Fried Cheese Curds from the King of Curds

Deep fried cheese curds sprinkled with icing sugar and served with pure Canadian maple syrup.

Deep fried cheese curds sprinkled with icing sugar and served with pure Canadian maple syrup.

20) Deep Fried Frog Legs from Farm to Fryer

Served with tartar sauce.

Served with tartar sauce.

Some other food events happening at this year's CNE will be the first-ever East Coast Kitchen Party (Aug 19 & 20) offering Maritime fare, entertainment, East Cost brews and spirits, as well as Newfoundland Screech! Then, from Aug 25 to 27, the French's Food Truck Frenzy and Craft Beer Fest will take over Princes' Boulevard with more than 25 different food trucks ready to dish out Toronto's best street food. Don't forget to also check out the Barbecue Bounty at the CNE's 9th annual RibFest taking place daily at Bandshell Park.

Starbucks Rewards - Ready To Drink Beverages

I was a man on a mission years ago trying to get my Starbucks Canada gold card, and now collecting these stars has never been easier! Starbucks Rewards are now available when you purchase Starbucks Ready to Drink beverages like their bottled "S'mores Frappuccino" or their "Vanilla Doubleshot Energy Coffee Drink" at your local grocery stores.

Just snap and submit your receipt digitally to automatically earn stars in your Starbucks app. Visit starbucks-stars.ca for more info!

Summer Fresh Perfect Pairings - Grilled Portobello with Pesto Chicken Topped with Bruschetta & Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers Topped with an Artichoke Dip

Summer is slowly fleeting away as another month has come and gone. It seemed just like yesterday where we shared our Canada Day long weekend recipes featuring some of our favourite Summer Fresh dips and salads that could easily be grilled and assembled with less than 10 minutes to prep. In case you need a refresher the Canada 150 celebrations were kicked off with our Greek Burger topped with Tzatziki Feta & Cucumber sauce, and also a Roasted Red Pepper BBQ Pizza on Naan. If you haven't tried these recipes it's not too late to do so!

With another long weekend looming just around the corner, we've developed two new recipes perfect for another summer barbecue for this Civic long weekend using more of our favourite Summer Fresh products. They craft healthy, preservative-free gourmet salads, hummus, and dips using real and simple ingredients you can find in your own kitchen. They are a Canadian based, family run company with a manufacturing facility based in Woodbridge, Ontario. It's there where all the magic happens to package their products in their iconic containers with the bright green lids you'll find in your local grocery store.

Below you will find two of our original recipes that are easy to prepare, fun to grill, and even sweeter to eat. Both of these recipes can be deliciously paired off with the Summer Fresh Greek Couscous Salad.

Grilled Portobello with Pesto Chicken Topped with Bruschetta

Recipe:

1) Marinate some chicken breast and place it on the grill
2) Grill the portobello mushrooms whole on the grill
3) Once chicken breast is fully cooked, cut into small pieces and mix in 1/3 cup of prepared pesto
4) Place the pesto chicken on top of the portobello mushrooms, sprinkle Mozzarella cheese on top, and grill again for 2 more minutes or until cheese has melted
5) Top it off with Summer Fresh Brushetta

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Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers Topped with an Artichoke Dip

Recipe:

1) Place some Italian sausage on the grill
2) Cut the peppers in halves, take out the seeds, and place it on the grill
3) Chop up the grilled Italian sausage in cubes and stuff it inside the grilled peppers
4) Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese on top, and grill again for 2 more minutes or until cheese has melted
5) Top it off with Summer Fresh Artichoke & Asiago Dip

For even more recipe ideas with Summer Fresh, visit HERE to check out Summer Fresh's current Perfect Pairings guide to get even more grilling inspiration. This is real food you can feel good about everyday. Let us know how you like these recipes by sounding off below. Have a great long weekend everyone!

Limited Edition McDonald's Boombox

We've all been there before. We're out with a group of friends at the beach ready to have a good time and everything seems to be going right. Except for one thing. There's no music because no one brought the speakers! I think we can all agree that a party without music is really no party at all. McDonald's gets it and wants to make sure that problem never happens again by introducing something truly unique yet practical at the same time. Canadians will have a fun way to enjoy the summer tunes thanks to the limited edition McDonald's Boombox - an innovation on the recyclable drink tray that enables it to double as a portable speaker! Yes you read that right. McDonald's just went all Transformers on us and I'm lovin' it!

The McDonald's Boombox was developed in partnership with the University of Waterloo's Audio Research Group and also the industrial design group Stacklab. It may seem low tech but the McDonald's Boombox incorporates plenty of high tech thinking including foil-embossed double cone speakers that help raise sound volume and quality while minimizing sound leakage to effectively double your phone's built-in maximum volume.

Check out a behind the scenes video of how the McDonald's Boombox came to life!

So how do you use this 100% recyclable McDonald's Boombox? You simply just flip your drink tray over and pop out the two metallic red speakers on each side with your fingers. You then just insert your phone in a special slot in the middle designed for phone stability and easy menu control. Turn up the music on your phone and listen as the beats from your tunes get amplified to everyone around you!

The McDonald's Boombox will be produced in extremely limited quantities and only available while supplies last as part of a one-time promotion for McFlurry desserts at Woodbine Beach in Toronto on July 28th from 2pm to 7pm. They will be handed out at no cost in conjunction with celebrating the McFlurry dessert's 22nd birthday in Canada, (which is another made in Canada innovation proudly made with milk and cream from Canadian dairy farms). You can trust me that this is one collector's item you are going to want to get your hands on!