The food sampler’s guide to the CRFA Show

Jtaylor March 12, 2012 0
The food sampler’s guide to the CRFA Show

Hunting for a three-course meal made entirely of bite-sized food samples was an easy feat at this week’s Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association Show. Everyone on the gastronomic food chain was in Toronto for the event, aimed primarily at restaurant owners, chefs and buyers. Food industry insiders were there to get ahead of the latest trends, while the industry outsiders and everyone else made the most of the smorgasbord of samples.

While navigating the bustling crowds and more than 1,200 exhibition booths at Exhibition Place’s Direct Energy Centre was a challenge in itself, trying to find the perfect pairing of appetizer, main dish and dessert in a warehouse filled with everything from zero-calorie oatmeal beverages to fine tequila was the real order of business.

Woolwich Dairy Farms of Orangeville, Ont., had the savoury appetizer category locked up with their selection of goat cheeses smeared on crostini. The company, online at, was also pushing a new line of goat cheese salad dressing.

From there, it was easy enough to follow the crowds to Paradise Farms, a local and all-natural beef supplier. The company, a venture of developer Shane Baghai, raises 1,000 head of cattle on farmland just outside of Toronto. Serving up the booth’s meaty morsels was Christopher Woods, caterer and resident chef on Sun TV’s Spirited Chef cooking show. He worked the crowd while grilling the meat and, judging by the response, did both expertly. His herb-crusted and roasted AAA Black Angus beef served on a grilled baguettes and topped with roasted garlic aioli went as fast as he could dish them out.

The main dish, freshly grilled Wagyu beef sliders served with caramelized shallots and fresh thyme, proved that good beef rises above trends. People huddled around the booth for seconds and even thirds. And presumably because burgers and beer go so well together, the Früli booth was handing out samples of strawberry brew just a few steps away.

For dessert, a creamy tiramisu cheesecake, from Wow! Factor Desserts complemented and ended the sampler menu, working well with the rich flavours.

If the CRFA show is like a beauty pageant for prepared foods, these were the dishes that, based on the crowds and purely subjective tastings, ended up wearing the tiaras.


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