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Published On: Mon, Aug 22nd, 2016

Kanida Chey, Other Chefs on Trends to Watch in Toronto Food Scene

Last year, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver announced he would be opening his latest Italian restaurant in Toronto.  The announcement came as little surprise, mostly because the Canadian city which is home to more than six million people is quickly becoming synonymous with global food culture.

Over roughly the last half decade, Toronto has become a mecca for world-renowned chefs to set up shop and experiment with the city’s diverse culinary stylings. Indeed, Toronto’s multicultural backdrop serves as the perfect blank canvas for chefs to paint their culinary creations.

photo booledozer 2015: intersection near Peter and King

photo booledozer 2015: intersection near Peter and King

The city isn’t only gaining recognition by international chefs and locals, earlier this year Vogue Magazine listed Toronto as a go-to city for foodies, critics and adventurers.

“One of the greatest examples I think there is of Toronto’s food is Foxley on Ossington Avenue,” dining critic Chris Nuttall-Smith told Vogue.  “I think, more than anything, Toronto’s food is a kind of synthesis—it pulls from all sorts of traditions around us and turns them into something that is uniquely Toronto.”

Toronto’s multicultural makeup has set it apart from other international destinations, with more than 51 percent of the demographic comprised of people born outside of Canada. Toronto is home to more than 230 nationalities, making it almost the Olympics of cities.

Because Toronto is home to the most ethnically diverse population, it’s fairly easy to find unique and authentic cuisine from all corners of the globe. From Thai pastries and Turkish coffee to Japanese cheesecake, Toronto showcases what the culinary world has to offer.

One of the city’s latest food trends has seen the bustling metropolis turn into a seafood oasis, with a host of oyster bars and seafood restaurants making their way onto the local food scene.

“Toronto’s rapid evolution from seafood backwater to fish and shellfish mecca got enormous boosts from the likes of Buca Yorkville thanks to extraordinary sourcing,” said Nutall-Smith, food critic for The Globe and Mail.

As Smith points out, diners are no longer only concerned with what is on their plate — they also want to know about the journey the food took to get there, and the shorter the better. Toronto native and executive chef Kanida Chey took sourcing into consideration when he opened Branca with a longtime friend of his, a restaurant centered around traditional Argentinian cooking styles.

“We wanted to source locally and cook simply,” says Chey, whose restaurant has topped many of the best restaurant lists in the city.

Branca’s local sourcing mantra is part of another food trend that’s becoming popular across North America, as more people become aware of the carbon footprint the food they love creates.

“Local sourcing allows us to develop a relationship with our supplier and farmer, while also enabling us to get the freshest and best food possible,” continued Kanida Chey.

Unlike Paris or Venice, Toronto’s multicultural demographic has created a fluid food scene that is constantly growing and morphing as the city continues to welcome citizens from around the world.

Over the last year, there has been an influx of Syrian refugees in Toronto.  As they acclimate to the city and its culture, there are sure to be Syrian styled restaurants sprouting up, enriching and adding to the city’s already broad ethnicity and food culture.

Author: Monica Baxley

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