I'd like to preface this post by saying that I don't claim to be a culinary expert of any sort. I am simply someone who has grown up with a deep appreciation for food. I was inspired to write this post following conversations I had with a friend as well as the chefs during (another SUPERB) 4suppers last night. It's also because of other thoughts and observations I've had about the food scene in Toronto.
The most significant thing I've noticed in the past couple of years after having moved to Toronto from New York is how collaborative and supportive the culinary community is toward one another. I've made more connections in Toronto's food scene compared to when I lived in New York, so perhaps it isn't fair to say. There seems to be a great deal of mind melding and camraderie going on (uniquely) in Toronto than other cities (like New York, Montreal too, apparently). If the same types of collaborations are happening in New York, perhaps I'm just not plugged in. The chefs I've discussed this with in Toronto agree with me. Is New York just too competitive a place in general for the same thing to happen? Maybe? Naturally, there is still competition in Toronto. For the most part, it seems to be a friendly and supportive sort. Toronto chefs seem genuinely excited about what their peers are doing – at least for the most part. The competitive creative energy seems to yield positive results. I witnessed this energy at this year's fantastic Terroir Symposium. I see it in the 4suppers at Porzia (not only because I co-host this event!), in The Group of 7 Chefs, at the many different chef battles at 86'd hosted by Ivy Knight, at Food Truck Eats, at Death Row Meals events, La Carnita's pop-up roots and today at Slurp Noodlefest, etc. I could go on and on.
What results from these collaborative relationships are dining experiences that are not only incredibly inspired but also really innovative. My friend Socky last night commented that the camraderie is very Canadian. But I'm not sure whether the same energy is happening on this scale in other Canadian cities. What is very Canadian to me is to be shy and humble about the fantastic food that's coming out of this city's best chefs. Is it also very Canadian to wait until people like David Chang or Anthony Bourdain recognize the creative energy and talent that's happening in Toronto for the city to realize it?
It's the very innovation and inspiration that is making this moment in Toronto a very exciting place to be. Any others in Toronto agree with me?