I love my team and spending time with them socially is always a very special opportunity. We are constantly so busy with deadlines, and are completely immersed in high-stress environments, so seeing each other in a more relaxed atmosphere is a nice change.
That’s why I was excited when our Publisher Julia Yakobi and I collaborated with Food Dudes for a sit-down dinner for my team!
Despite its funky name, Food Dudes provides a very elegant and classic dining experience. It is now a full-service catering company that has grown from a small, home-based operation to one of the most respected caterers in Toronto. Founded by Adrian Niman in 2007 — after he completed an intense training at the Michelin-starred Reads Hotel in Mallorca, Spain — the company has expanded quite quickly. In 2008, Niman partnered with brand creator, Brent McClenahan, who specializes in bridging the gap between design strategy and the culinary arts. Since then, the Food Dudes has been steadily catering for over 200 clients and over 1,000 functions annually.
We were especially excited to have our dinner at their head office at 25 Carlaw Avenue that features a trendy and very cozy tasting room. The room felt like someone’s home, and was perfect for the size of our group. There was also another bonus: we had the option of ordering wine from the Food Dudes menu, or bringing our own!
The dinner was a celebration of all senses and consisted of four courses.
First, an amuse bouche: blueberry cured salmon, cream cheese, potato rosti, pickled shallot and compressed cucumber. It was a great way to kickstart the entire dining experience because it looked pretty and was delicious, which ended up being the main theme of our dinner.
The amuse bouche was followed by the first course, which was a smoked tomato and red pepper soup, made with caramelized garlic, fennel, goat cheese tempura and basil puree. Immediately afterwards, the second course made its appearance: composed salad, panko fried egg, roasted squash, mushroom, pear, cucumber, orange segments, cookstown greens, pumpkin seeds, truffle dressing, cider glaze and parmesan. The sheer number of ingredients in every dish made them very complex, exciting and incredibly filling. We were truly fascinated by the food combinations and this continued throughout the evening.
The next palette cleanser was the green apple sorbet on a wonton spoon. Let’s just say that anything related to green apples in summer is a very good idea.
The portions were also very hearty. For main courses, some members of our team opted for the ribs, while others chose the vegetarian ravioli option. The 12-hour braised short rib with potato confit perogie, smoked cauliflower puree, grilled king oyster mushrooms, green asparagus, pickled heirloom carrots and natural reduction, truly melted in our mouths. The other option was equally creatively presented and consisted of ravioli with wild mushroom, goat cheese, truffle brown butter, parsley puree, maple walnuts, lemon dressed kale and grana padano.
At the very end, the dessert was the biggest surprise because it wasn’t a single dessert or even a double dessert: it was a dessert trio! As one of our photographers said, “Why have one when you can have three delicious options? This way you don’t have to choose!” The trio consisted of a seasonal crème brule with streusel crumble, macerated berry salad with basil, and churros with coco cinnamon sugar and coffee caramel.
We all had a huge smile on our faces after dinner. It was such a lovely experience and the service was absolutely impeccable. Our chef dropped by afterwards to say hello, and the team was excited to meet her and thank her in-person for such a feast.
Of course, when you have a bunch of journalists and photojournalists having dinner, they all end up snapping lots of photos for social media. Here are some of our pictures from this memorable experience. We also had a hashtag, in case you would like to check out our posts on Twitter or Instagram: #FAJOxFoodDudes.