Toronto’s Culinary Scene Gets a Kick in the Pants

What happens when you fly a celebrity Chef from southwest California up to Toronto to work on a Biker-Chic Menu?

Well, you know dinner was good when you don’t even want to think about breakfast!

I woke up this morning with memories of superb Lobster Bisque, Crispy Eryngii Mushrooms (encrusted in parmesan, garlic and lemon!) and killer Kurabuto Confit Pork Belly on Togarashi Seared Fijian Yellowfin dancing in my head. I’m no culinary genius, but the folks at Ufeast.com, so far, are doing it right!

Böehmer Restaurant at 93 Ossington, just north of Queen Street in Toronto is becoming iconic to foodies. The ambiance is a casual mix of natural and industrial materials, anchored by a comfortable long bar and stunning wood and a crystal chandelier. The room beckons you to just chill out! Owner and Chef Paul Boehmer has impressed groups, couples and the masses (I just learned he does weddings!) with dishes like his succulent grilled hammer steak, Butter Poached Shrimp and an almost infamous lobster mac & cheese, unusually presented with a small pellet pasta, (I believe called Acini di pepe(?)).

Take one Toronto Chef with great dishes in his own right, and introduce him to a celebrity Chef from San Diego and what do you get? A night of North-East meets South-West food genius, that’s what!

Chef Ivan Flowers and Chef Paul Boehmer concocted quite a feast for the senses on this Chef Concert Series evening brought to Böehmer’s by a food club with a twist; U-feast. Chef Flowers, a Le Cordon Bleu SCI Culinary Institute graduate, came by his love of food honestly, from his dad in New York. Brooklyn born, he worked his way across the USA in four diamond award winning restaurants, eventually landing in San Diego, California where he turned the “Top of the Market” restaurant into a celebrated food landmark for the city.

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Ivan’s food virtuoso was fundamental to this delectable evening. The 6-course-meal (plus desert) started with a Lobster Bisque with Porcini Mushroom Infusion Starter-Shooter, the secret recipe held fast by Ivan, was given to HIM by a revered Chef and friend in Monaco. Fantastic! I found my tongue embarrassingly sneaking into the shooter glass. The small second platter was an appetizer of sorts, consisting of parma ham wrapped around a soft serving of Lobster Boursin Roulades, topped with a drop of Confit Tomato Lobster Rose and Jalapeno Syrup Tip. You’d almost think you could just whip these little babies up at home. You can’t. The platters of Chicken Fried Quail served on ripped up Bacon Corn Bread with Pickled Jalapenos and Red Eye Jus seemed very southern to me, and were finger lickin’ good. This was followed by Ivan’s innovative take on Kurabuto Confit Pork Belly on Togarashi Seared Fijian Yellowfin with an Ell Sauce Glaze, Black Garlic Tempura and Smokey Piquillo Droplets. Yes, I’m stealing the ingredients list off of the menu, a little hard to recite off of the top of your head – but wow, what a fantastic blending of flavors. The saltiness of the pork belly complimented the tuna perfectly, and this all went down nicely with a somewhat understated Henry of Pelham wine called “Sibling Rivalry”. Best selling wine author and sommelier Carolyn Evans-Hammond even complimented the inexpensive but well balanced red and white – which happened to be the wine of the evening. Before dessert Chef Boehmer entertained with a brilliant lamb dish that anyone who lives in Toronto will want to try. Now I’ve almost cited the whole menu here, but must move on to the eclectic crowd in attendance.

Things started off with Comedian and Personality Mike Bullard pulling up on his white Harley Davidson (horse? LOL) and a crowd of well-wishers gathering at the front of the restaurant for pictures on the U-feast red carpet. Both Chefs came out front to greet our host for the evening, and all had trouble getting back inside due to the interest on the street.

The press turn out on such an intimate event (sold out at around 100) was great, with the Toronto Star, Newstalk 1010, The Best of Toronto, The SUN, CP24 and others milling about for early cocktails and food-chat. A cool little tasting bar was set up with Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack for the tasting, provided by Cocktails, The Fluid Experience – thematically this was a really perfect fit, and very warm and tasty! The theme of the evening was biker-chic, as both Chefs (over 6 foot tall, burly guys) are motorcycle enthusiasts, along with host Mike Bullard. Doc’s Leather’s was a key sponsor for the evening, filling the swag bags with bike-themed gifts and Doc himself showed up for the dinner. The other sponsor included Steam Whistle Beer. It all seemed to “fit” in a comfortable way, with the relaxed and very unpretentious (yet gourmet) evening.

U-feast is doing it again soon, bringing cheeky, punky and very talented Michelin-Starred Chef Cristina Bowerman in from Rome July 9th for a “Three-way at the Windsor Arms Hotel”. I don’t know what that means food-wise – but I am IN! Here’s the link for tickets.

To attend more events like this register and become a member of Ufeast.com
PS: Want to learn some of Ivan Flowers’ great recipes? Check out this link.
Oh, and like him on Facebook.

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