While many have argued that Toronto’s enthusiasm for food events is dwindling, the turn out at Brick Works’ latest gathering tells a different tale. September 27 marked the inaugural Evergreen Urban Rodeo and BBQ. It was a celebration of Ontario’s seasonal bounty and a charity event in support of Evergreen’s innovative local initiatives. The organization’s goal is to inspire action in cities throughout Canada by empowering people to enhance their urban environments and improve their health. This year alone, Evergreen helped support the development of 18 Toronto Community gardens.
The rodeo kicked off with an exclusive cocktail hour available for the VIP price of $250, where hors d’oeuvres and drinks were being served. Soon after, the event doors opened, the kegs were tapped, the pork was pulled, and a herd of cowboy boots, straw hats and plaid flannel shirts filled the space.
For $150 general admission, the 750 guests were invited to mosey about the venue, sampling all-you-can-eat style from over 40 of Canada’s top chefs. The culinary masterminds were grouped in to 10 stations, each of which celebrated a different local product, and were paired up with a Creemore Springs craft beer. Buca’s Rob Gentile and The Saint’s Jessie Vallins took their star ingredient, Offal, to heart with a gorgeously tender Charcoal-Grilled Chianti Beef Heart, with unctuous Bone Marrow Baked Beans.
Food TV-enthusiasts were thrilled to see Top Chef sweetheart Danny Smiles (Crown Salts) pair up with Alex Feswick (The Drake), Michael Smith (Barsa Taverna) and Trish Donnelly (Evergreen) to serve a comforting cool-weather Chowder using local Fisherfolk shellfish. Other fan favourites included the Yorkshire Valley Farm Fried Chicken by Jamie Kennedy (Gilead), Jason Bangerter (Langdon Hall), Leonie Lilla (Farmer’s Daughter), and Trista Sheen (Crush Wine Bar) and also Brad Long (Café Belong), Charlotte Langley (Groundwork Food), and Steve Mitton’s (Murray Street) use of Monteforte Dairy cheese with their Smoked Pork Shoulder, Baked Beans, Cornbread, Peaches and Smoked Halloumi.
Along with the Creemore, local spirit purveyors, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers, were on site with the range of tempting seasonal cocktails, and Somewhereness was pouring a variety of VQA wines throughout the space.
To keep the energy up in between Ontario-themed sips and nibbles, the event featured live country music, classic carnival games and even a mechanical bull. This is where the free-flowing Creemore liquid courage came in handy.
To cool down after all that stimulation, guests were encouraged to peruse and bid on the silent and live auction prizes, including a Cava dinner for 8 with Chris McDonald.
While they’re still calculating the money raised, I’ve been told that the live auction alone brought in over $24,000.
Miss out on the 2014 rodeo? Keep your eyes on the prize for upcoming events and initiatives by checking the Evergreen website.