Friday, June 22, 2012

Foodutainment arrives in Hogtown's Liberty Village.

What happens when you get a group of people that love good sustainable food and they decide to do something constructive about it while smashing the current restaurant business model at the same time?   Maizal Quesedilla Café in Toronto is what can happen, that's what.

When you think of yet another latin american infused restaurant opening in Toronto you might feel the urge to stifle a yawn.  This Food Warrior (FW) did too, until enough tweets about them from fellow FWs in Toronto made our own FW whiskers "twiver".  In fact, we were intrigued enough on their opening day to detour to their Liberty Village location to grab some food to try on our way to another food warrior event that evening.

Upon walking into the gorgeously laid out restaurant - complete with a retro styled stamped tin ceiling - you immediately forget that you've walked into a strip mall.  And when we saw who was running the place we knew immediately that things were radishly different.  The owners of the restaurant (Gabriela and Ivan) are really shaking up the good food scene with this endeavour. Like their peers at Chocosol, they view food as an opportunity for community nourishment and they are taking things to a whole new level with this restaurant.

Ivan met our FW at an organizational meeting for the Toronto Urban Agricultural Summit happening this summer.  And, subsequent to that initial meetup,  at a Toronto Food Policy council meeting where he and his fellow team of farmers presented information about their efforts at starting a near urban agriculture co-operative farm in Brampton.  This farm is growing some of the food that will be eventually used by this restaurant.  And what is not grown here is grown on small sustainable farms in Mexico that they have a direct relationship with.  The Brampton farm in itself is an innovative model since it is the first co-operative near urban sustainable and ecological farm for the greater Toronto area - and this is why they were presenting at the Toronto Food Policy Council.  The fact that this farm is behind the delicious food on offer at Maizal is a subtle but key enhancement to the traditional supply chain management model that most (nearly all) restaurants in Toronto participate in.  Lettuce Connect hopes to soon take a day trip out to the farm and investigate things further on that front.

The second component to Maizal's rock solid food warrior status is their use of the traditional method of preparing the corn.  The restaurant has a volcanic stone rock on display that they use to grind the corn.  Lettuce Connect hopes that some local schools discover this ready-made afternoon trip that will provide kids with a short excursion into the history and tastiness of traditional mexican food.  Ivan and Gabriela commissioned an artist to draw the story of corn on their wall so that will provide children (and parents and teachers) a ready made learning/discussion opportunity as they enjoy their meals.  

In short, the food, ambiance and background story is simply a-maize-ing and Lettuce Connect hopes to see many more social enterprise based restaurant models like this sprout up.  It is time to give a fork and grow in soil-idarity to replenish the earth and our bodies.  Kudos to Maizal Quesadilla Café for joining the food warrior army that is sprouting up by folks that want to push food forward in Toronto and beyond!

Foodutainment:  Food Education Entertainment.
The history of corn is illustrated along one of the walls in the main seating area.
Really scrumptious chicken fried quesadilla made with
volcanic stone ground corn, the traditional way.
The volcanic stone grinder is on display.

The deets:
Food Warrior Name:  Maizal Quesadilla Café: twitter/facebook
Food Warrior Location: 133 Jefferson Ave, Liberty Village, Toronto: map
Food Warrior Weapons:  Vegetarian, Local, Sustainable, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Legume Free, Vegan offerings 
Food Warrior Accessibility:  No (but there are plans to change this)
Food Warrior Value:  All meals are pledged to remain under $10.  Above (did I mention it was delicious?) meal was $7.50 + taxes.  Traditional Mexican drinks are served.  All non-alcoholic at the moment - they are awaiting their license.

1 comment:

Manner alert: Don't speak with your mouth full.