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For Love of Food & Family, Friends & Neighbours

by Robin Buyers, emergence Curator

My neighbour is almost 90. But I still mark the arrival of spring by the sound of Carolina sweeping her patio, and the view through the fence of a garden stripped of the debris of winter and ready for its first planting of radicchio.

emergence Guest Chef Therese de Grace’s Nonna and Nonno, and her mother Lina, live less than a 10 minute walk south of me. Therese’s journey as a young culinary artist may have taken her to Europe and the 5-star Kildare Hotel in Ireland, and later to a Pressure Cooker title, yet she has never left home cooking behind, nor the diverse stories our parents and grandparents’ kitchens tell.

Chef Therese de Grace

Therese brings to emergence a “local goes global” philosophy most recently honed as Executive Chef at The Good Earth Food & Wine Company in Beamsville, a place where the seasons are celebrated and food is made with the love and care she first learned from her Nonna. Adding to “her proudest achievement at work, the pleasure of watching [her] apprentices learn, grow, and lead successful kitchens of their own,” she will supervise students from Niagara and George Brown College culinary arts programs as they offer a selection of small plates, each featuring farm products donated by Marvellous Edibles, Green Gate Farm, and AquaGreens.

At the same time, rising star of the Good Earth team, Niagara-born-and-raised Executive Sous Chef Jason Bilkszto, will present his own family speciality. Please ask Jason about working with his grandmother to create the perfect filling for Babcia Bilkszto’s Pierogis, offered at the restaurant each Mother’s Day and highlighted in the emergence menu.

Baker Carole Ferrari Bringing her sweet and savoury pastry-making skills into the mix is emergence Guest Baker, Carole Ferrari. The child of Chefs, Carole grew up in restaurants, working first in her father’s pizzeria in Monte Carlo. Though she left the family business as a young woman to study and travel, her heart and hands led her back, but on her own terms: she found herself renovating an old school bus into The Local Cafe so familiar to her many Farmer’s Market and catering customers.

With a newly-completed, more permanent space in Toronto’s west end, Carole is again following her heart, and the Zen precepts and practices she began to embrace when building the bus. Her mother Louise– whose North York institution, Chez Laurent, closed 3 years ago–is often at her side now, and she continues to source ingredients from the stalls of her Market friends. She ensures that ingredients from farther afield, such as chocolate and sugar, be fair trade.

Thanks to donors such ChocoSol Traders and Green Thumbs Cabbagetown neighbour, Lennie’s Whole Foods, I am proud to be honouring this shared commitment to fair trade at emergence.

Lennie’s Whole Foods, 489 Parliament St.

Crisscrossing the foodways of my life in Toronto is indeed what brought the process of curation to life for me–from Tre Mari Bakery , the historical gathering-place of my Corso Italia neighbours and I; to The Stop’s Green Barn Farmer’s Market where so many local producers sell each Saturday morning; to the gardens and greenhouses in which Green Thumbs offers toddlers to seniors opportunities to carry out the age-old tasks of preparing soil, planting seeds and cultivating crops.

Tre Mari Bakery, 1311 St. Clair Ave. W.

I am so grateful for the generosity of friends and neighbours, and the deep roots of family and community life, that are filling the plates emergence will offer to all.

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