There has been an outpouring of love from food lovers, restaurateurs, NOW readers and NOW employees since we announced that our beloved food editor, Steven Davey, died suddenly.
Thanks to everyone for your kind words. Below, please find a selection of some of what we've received.
From news writer Jonathan Goldsbie:
"Keeping track of the openings and closings of the Chinese restaurants along Spadina and Dundas West is a full-time job. Mine, in fact."
That passage opened Steve Davey's review of a forgettable hot-pot place that's long since gone out of business. But that the late NOW food writer, who passed away June 7, considered it worthy of coverage at all is exactly what made him special and important.
I spoke to Davey on the phone once or twice while researching Kensington history, but never met him in person. A couple old photos aside, I still don't know what he looked like.
For a restaurant critic to maintain anonymity for 17 years is impressive. I couldn't pick his face out of a lineup, but he helped shape the way I experienced Toronto.
I began reading Davey when I began reading NOW, as a high school student 12 years ago. He was the only person who regularly reviewed restaurants I could afford to go to, which remained true for me through university and most of my years as a freelance journalist.
Growing up in the Yonge and Eglinton area, I spent little time downtown and lacked an understanding of the city's pockets as a contiguous whole. As I reached my later teen years, Davey's reviews served as my guide to the core.
Instead of attending my grade 12 formal, a friend and I went for dinner at New Bilan, a Somali restaurant on Dundas East Davey had recently reviewed.
And a decade before the Star's Corey Mintz started raving about it, Davey put Chinese Traditional Bun on his list of the 10 best restaurants of 2002. I made a point of dragging my friend there on New Year's Eve to try jellied bean curd, which Davey had explained was a "steaming-hot silken tofu soup swimming with sunken seaweed and crunchy sour pickle, all garnished with salty crushed dried shrimp, slivered scallion, chopped raw garlic and fresh coriander leaf [plus] a jolt of fiery chili oil." Everything about the dish (which cost $1.49 at the time) was extraordinary.
Gradually and organically, the pieces of the city blended into a coherent urban fabric as I sought out the sites of Davey's travels. And as my younger brother got older, he too took Davey's reviews as a way to explore the geography and diversity of Toronto.
In the days when local food writing almost exclusively reflected an upper-middle-class sensibility, Davey documented culinary margins the same as he would the hottest new places.
Before food became its own strand of popular and indie cultures - before pop-ups, gourmet food trucks, and Instagram - Davey was mapping his own way through the landscape, one jellied bean curd at a time.
I am so sorry -- sorry for me, sorry for you, and sorry that Steven didn't live longer. I have read his reviews since they began with interest, with amusement, and with trust (since any of the places I tried were as he said they would be). I will certainly miss him (unmet but appreciated in absentia). I can't imagine how you and the NOW staff will miss him. So, my sympathies and I hope it helps that you are not alone.
Steven Davey was a true original. No other food critic wrote about a pho place with the same deference as a five star restaurant. No pretension. He obviously loved to discover new foods and trends. He was always professional. I just spoke with him last week! I am truly saddened and still shocked by the news. I will always remember him.
This note is probably among a flurry of similar notes of sadness and celebration for the great Steven Davey.
I've met you on a few occasions - while I was working at the National Film Board, TIFF and other lives before moving to CTV News.
As someone who went to university in the 90s, I grew up with NOW, with you, your staff, and hence feel close to you all.
So it was a real blow to learn of Steven Davey's death.
Every awesome hole-in-the-wall resto I've trekked out of the way to get to, I can generally attribute to Steven's column.
He was a wonderful writer friend to all of us foodie groupies, and his integrity, passion and humour shone through in his work.
My deepest condolences to you and others at NOW who have lost a colleague and friend.
Steven Davey was a man I never met, but I always admired. His reviews often influenced the next resto I might try, the next dish I would sample. His writing had a punch to it I rarely saw in restaurant reviews, and I kept coming back to his columns to learn about the new venues opening near me or my work. I will truly miss Steven and his journalism, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his NOW colleagues.
We're so saddened to hear of Steven's passing. Any chance to work with him was always a real joy. Sending the NOW family our thoughts and love.
can't believe i'm just finding this out now, but RIP steven davey. one of the nicest and weirdest dudes. a true original. the end of an era.
- John Semley (@johnsemley3000) June 14, 2014
@nowtoronto Sadness. I owe some of my best meals to his reviews. His sharp wit and impeccable taste will be missed. :(
- Isabelle Boucher (@Izzbell) June 11, 2014
@nowtoronto I'm so sorry to hear this news ... He was such a nice man. He will be missed by us. Please accept our condolences.
- Das Gasthaus (@DasGasthausTO) June 11, 2014
@nowtoronto incredibly sad news - he was a great guy and food writer- gave me a LisaMarie / Elvis mashup cd when we first opened - RIP
- fidel gastro (@fidelgastros) June 11, 2014
- thegabardine (@TheGabardine) June 11, 2014
Thanks. We feel the love. Details about an up-coming memorial service TBA.