(L to R:) Hidde Zomer, Carbon Bar, Jo Castrinos, Barque Butcher Bar, Craig Wong, Patois, Joe Friday,Via Vai, Danny Hassell, Parcae.
You know that old saying about too many cooks in the kitchen? That didn’t end up being a problem at the photo shoot for NOW’s holiday food and drink special.
When the clock struck 5 pm at the home of our senior marketing exec, Janice Copeland, five (shockingly punctual) Toronto chefs suddenly appeared in the kitchen bearing enormous platters of food, unpacking an arsenal of pro kitchen gear and jockeying for oven space – all between toasts of cheap tall cans (drinks writer Sarah Parniak saved the best stuff for dinner).
We asked each chef to bring a large-format, party-friendly dish of their choosing, and many chose revamped dishes from family holiday gatherings. Chef Hidde Zomer of Carbon Bar, for his part, heard “potluck” and immediately went for ribs and cornbread – not your usual holiday fare, maybe, but we sucked down every last one of those ribs anyway.
Of course, potlucks don’t usually come with an exhaustive photography session featuring each dish before the meal starts – but even that delayed gratification brought back holiday memories, in a way.
“During Christmas and Thanksgiving, I used to hang out at the dining table while everyone else was still in the other room talking,” offered Via Vai’s Joe Friday. “I’d be making a plan like ‘Yo, I’m gonna eat that first, I’m gonna get that second, I’m gonna make sure I get that on my plate.’ My mom would be like ‘What are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘I’m planning.’”
More stories trickled out as the chefs moved from swapping culinary tips to trading tales of family meals and the moms, dads and grandparents who made them, bonding over the dishes that stoked their love of food. Said Friday to Craig Wong of Patois after a few spoonfuls of a Jamaican pumpkin soup inspired by Wong’s grandma: “Eating that dish makes me feel like I know you a little bit better.”
Ornaments ($12) and mini trees ($12-$35) courtesy of Spruce (455 Parliament, 647-748-4060, spruceonparliament.com)