How Toronto's Multicultural Food Scene Has Made the City a Celebrated Culinary Destination

Foodable Network is always on the lookout for culinary food scenes with a vibrant, yet unique character.

With our "Food in Your City" series, we visit cities offering food scenes unlike any other.

Toronto is referred to as the "New York of Canada" and for good reason. There's a tremendous amount of flavor.

With the majority of the population speaking multiple languages, it makes sense that this culinary destination would have an equally diverse and dynamic food culture.

"When you're eating out in a city as diverse as Toronto, a whole world of flavors is always within walking distance. From hole-in-the-wall joints with no phone to luxurious tasting menus, Toronto is a food lover's dream city," writes "Bon Appétit."

Popular cuisines include Korean, Cuban, Southern American, Brazilian, and so on. Toronto continues to be rooted in culture and heritage and this reflects in the food.

“Unlike being a melting pot, the diversity still stays, so not only do we have communities and neighborhoods, we also have the heritage of those people who are coming from different countries to live here with us," said Donna Dooher, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada.

Renowned restaurateurs like David Chang and Daniel Boulud have opened restaurants in Toronto, but the local talented chefs like Grant van Gameren, Lynn Crawford and Patrick Kriss are helping to make Toronto the celebrated food city it is.

But it isn't just the local chefs elevating the food and beverage scene either. Toronto is home to some of the best bartenders in the business like Frankie Solarik and Robin Goodfellow. These mixology masters are showing guests a whole new world when it comes to their cocktail creations.

Read more about Toronto's food scene here and watch the "On Foodable Side Dish: Food in Your City" episode below to learn more about this culinary city.

Food in Your City: Exploring Paris' Culinary Scene

“Food in Your City,” a new original mini-series that brings viewers into different cities around the world, paints a realistic picture of the local culinary canvas. An artistic interpretation that showcases various cultures’ approach to dining, “Food in Your City” shows food vendors, street markets, restaurants, and the people who have dedicated their livelihood to the craft of food production, in the most raw, original form. In this third installation, we visit Paris.

Paris has always been known for its high-quality cuisine and diverse dishes. Traditional French culture places a high priority on food and dining as an experience, not just a necessity. As the second largest country in Europe, France has the ability to grow all of its own food. This translates to fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. The rich soil in that area is also conducive to growing grapes, allowing the country to be one of the largest wine producers in the world.

Historically, French Nobility would have feasts lasting for hours with numerous courses. Presentation of these meals were just as important as taste. Today, those components are still important, but the dining experiences have also grown to include a spread of international meals presented in a number of new ways. This is the “Haute cuisine” Paris is known for. Intricate plates and new ideas have been at the forefront of modern French cuisine. On the other hand, there has been a recent movement towards serving more simplistic fare.

This trend of finding “complexity in simplicity” encourages Parisians to see the beauty of fresh, quality ingredients without trying to transform the flavors too much. They recognize the value in local and seasonal products. There is an excitement that follows the first asparagus or truffles of the season. Locals also look for the classics. They like the comfort of traditional meals. Staples such as bread, cheese, wine, and champagne are still relevant. Dessert is also an important facet of dining in Paris. One can usually find a rich dessert with little effort.

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However, most homemade French desserts only consist of fruit or yogurt. Restaurants in Paris recognize these trends and try to embody these desires in their menus. Heimat, for example is a restaurant centered around the idea of keeping things simple. Even the name of the restaurant, which cannot be translated into English, portrays home. 

“It's a word that says everything at once: a home, a birthplace, the scents of your childhood. It's that feeling you get when you smell your mother's perfume or hear the songs she used to sing," owner Pierre Jancou says.

Paris still offers new age cuisine. It’s difficult to find something Paris doesn't offer, seeing that it has more than 2 million residents and over 30 million visitors every year. More recently, street food has gained traction in Paris. Less time is spent in McDonald’s and Burger King and now Parisians are exploring food trucks as a new way to get a quick bite. There are now more than 100 food trucks roaming the streets of Paris. The mobile fare is a new addition to French gastronomy. As of late, the Parisian food truck scene has grown to include more artisanal street foods such as  mozzarella salads, venezuelan arepas, and vietnamese bahn mi in addition to the traditional offerings such as pizza, burgers, enchiladas and tacos. From traditional french fare to modern haute Cuisine, Paris has something to offer all tastes.

Video Produced by Denise Toledo

Food in Your City: Exploring Toronto’s Culinary Scene

Food in Your City: Exploring Toronto’s Culinary Scene

“Food in Your City,” a new original mini-series umbrellaed underneath the Foodable Network's "On Foodable Side Dish" channel, brings viewers into different cities around the world, painting a realistic picture of the local culinary canvas. An artistic interpretation that showcases various cultures’ approach to dining, “Food in Your City” celebrates food vendors, street markets, restaurants, and the people who have dedicated their livelihood to the craft of food production, in the most raw, original form. In this second installation, we visit Toronto. [Check out our first installation featuring Tokyo here.]

Toronto (and Canada in general) has been on our radar for some time now, hence Foodable’s recent Canada launch. Four years ago, David Chang expanded his Momofuku empire into Toronto with three restaurants, including a 3-story restaurant, but not just because the local culinary scene was heating up. Rather, he saw its potential. He even told The Canadian Press as recently as 2014, “We’re not there yet — I don’t think anywhere close — but I believe it will happen.” Now, with so much diversity to pull from — its population stands at 6M+ — and well-known chefs building presence in this city, Toronto, known as being the “New York of Canada,” has become a culinary force to compete with. True Torontonians know this sentiment goes beyond peameal bacon sandwiches at St. Lawrence Market (though there’s that, too).

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Food in Your City: Exploring Tokyo's Culinary Scene

“Food in Your City,” a new original mini-series umbrellaed underneath the Foodable Network's "On Foodable Side Dish" show, brings viewers into different cities around the world, painting a realistic picture of the local culinary canvas. An artistic interpretation that showcases various cultures’ approach to dining, “Food in Your City” shows food vendors, street markets, restaurants, and the people who have dedicated their livelihood to the craft of food production, in the most raw, original form. In this first installation, we visit Tokyo. 

Tokyo has long been a city celebrated for having the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Some even regard it as the world’s culinary capital. Known for its fresh seafood, interesting textures, and innovative cooking methods, this Japanese hotbed for culinary greatness has, in the past decade, been ripe for disruption. In a culture known for its rigid work ethic and mentality, it has undoubtedly become shaken up by the creative spirit of younger chefs — something Eli Gottlieb in a New York Times piece calls “the culinary second wave, a quiet in-house revolution that is afoot all over the country.” Married together, these traits — of maintaining a taste for tradition while executing on modern advancements — boast both menu consistency and the ability to produce at such an original level. 

While many would assume Tokyo’s culinary-scape to be littered with fresh sushi, the city is full of various flavors, and is also heavy in European-inspired restaurants — ones that are noteworthy enough to have gained a Michelin star even. But that’s not to take away from its Japanese culture, either. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” is a film that perfectly encapsulates the importance of precision, consistency, and ingredient simplicity of this Old World traditional art. Jiro Ono’s 10-seat restaurant will run diners $300 per plate, but it’s an experience — one that is simple in nature but complex in taste, where the food is the main event. “All of the sushi is simple,” says food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto in the film. “It’s completely minimalist. Master chefs from around the world eat at Jiro’s and ask, ‘How can something so simple have so much depth of flavor?’”

On the opposite side, in terms of the finished product, is Japan’s uprise of more modern approaches to culinary consumption, interpretation, and presentation. Take Le Musée, for example. While this restaurant is located roughly 20 hours north of Tokyo, it’s an establishment that showcases a new style of Japanese cooking, where chefs hone in on each seasonal ingredient in a dish, bringing out the flavors in refined ways by using innovative methods and processes to do so. It’s this type of avant-garde approach that expands into full-on movements within the region and, eventually, the country.

Perhaps adding to the sacredness of Tokyo’s dining culture is its exclusivity. Many establishments boast under 30 seats, some as few as eight, like Mibu, a restaurant monumental in reputation with obscure traits, like no website or reservations. In fact, this restaurant is invite only, and only allows new diners who have been invited by a member. Helmed by head chef Hiroshi Ishida, Mibu was recently visited by Rene Redzepi of Noma — and only because Ishida came into Noma for dinner during the Scandinavian restaurant’s pop-up stint in Tokyo. Then there’s Takazawa, the eponymous 10-seat restaurant steered by Yoshiaki Takazawa. As CNN reported, “each dish on the set menu tells a story with both unique techniques and unexpected tastes, making Takazawa’s menu one of the most coveted in the world.”

From molecular bars to minimal-seating sushi counters doling out the freshest catches of the day, and from nine-course Japanese-inspired Italian dinners to hole-in-the-wall ramen shops and izakayas, Tokyo is a smorgasbord of flavors that are rooted in appreciation and respect.