Gusto 101 Serves Southern-Italian Dishes with a Twist in a Converted Auto Body Shop in Toronto

Toronto has a dynamic culinary scene with a sheer diversity of restaurants with so many different flavors.

Since the competition is fierce in this city, a restaurant has to stand out to make a name for itself, especially when it serves the popular cuisine of Italian.

Gusto 101 in downtown Toronto at the Portland and Adelaide intersection, does just that.

We visited Gusto 101 a few years ago, a southern-Italian restaurant known for its traditional cuisine paired with a bold and modern twist. Even the name Gusto, which means tasty in Italian, is a tribute to the restaurant's roots to Italy.

With an industrial vibe, the restaurant is located in a former auto body shop and has a rooftop deck, Gusto 101 has a tech-forward kitchen to match its innovative front-of-house interior.

“[This is] probably one of the most high-tech kitchens I’ve ever worked in. We have a full-induction burners, combi oven, so on and so forth…It’s at the top of the level of, as far as, the future of kitchens, and the future of restaurant design...,” says Elio Zennoni, executive chef at Gusto 101 in the video below.

But it’s what the chefs prepare in the high-tech kitchen that is the real triumph.

Some of the most popular dishes include ravioli alla norma, rigatoni bolognese, branzino grilled paired with escarole, cannellini beans, celery, salmoriglio and the Tuscan wood-fired grill with grilled chicken and seasonally changing sides.

Watch the Table 42 Vignette episode below to see Chef Zennoni work his culinary mastery and prepare the signature Tuscan Wood Fired Grill Pollo with grilled chicken, butternut squash puree, farro pickled radicchio, and toasted hazelnuts dish.

Toronto’s Bar Raval Serves Cocktails with a Barcelona-esque Atmosphere Morning, Day and Night

Foodable Network is always looking for bar concepts that offer unique beverage experiences. Bar Raval in Toronto, Canada is unlike any other.

When you walk in, you feel as though you have been transported to the Spanish resort town, San Sebastian. This is no accident, either. The name Raval is a nod to the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona.

The bar is standing-room only and was custom design by the Toronto-based architecture and design studio Partisans Projects.

The bar's structure is truly a masterpiece with gaudi-esque wood panels and rich mahogany millwork.

“Bar Raval was an opportunity for us to use advanced digital methods to reinterpret—not replicate—classical Art Nouveau tropes for the 21st century,” said Alex Josephson, Partisons co-founder, as reported by "archello."

The one-of-a-kind structure is all part of the bar experience curated by the owners.

“We wanted the space to be just like the experience — very organic,” said Robin Goodfellow, part owner of Bar Raval. “You come in, it’s like a warm hug from a tree. We’ve heard people say it looks like the inside of a tree’s heart.”

Guests are immediately wowed by the atmosphere, but what about the cocktails?

In the "Across the Bar" episode below, Goodfellow gives us a taste some of the handcrafted beverages served at Bar Raval.

Since the bar is open morning and night, the concept offers beverages like the Mal Gusto, a popular morning beverage with sherry and Cocchi Americano, a quinine-laced aperitif wine produced by Giulio Cocchi.

Watch as Goodfellow displays his bartending mastery by mixing three of Bar Raval's most popular cocktails in the video below.

McDonald's Move to Only Serve Cage-Free Eggs Makes Major Impact

The quick-serve giant McDonald's set a goal to serve only cage-free eggs by 2025. As the company gradually start to change its egg supply, this has made a significant impact on the farming industry and on the prices of cage-free eggs.

"The expected surge in demand has sparked barn upgrades across the country over the last several years, with producers building facilities that give hens a bit more space. This increase in supply is reducing cage-free eggs’ market premium over regular eggs," writes "Bloomberg.

Back in February, the cost of a dozen cage-free eggs was about 81 cents more than regular eggs. In 2017, cage-free eggs were double the cost of regular eggs at some retailers.

But due to McDonald's recent pledge, which has influenced other restaurants to follow-suit, the price of cage-free eggs have started to decrease as more suppliers are ramping up production to fulfill the demand.

The fast-food giant buys about 2 billion eggs a year in the U.S., which amounts to almost 2 percent of the country's annual production.

“The supply-and-demand equation will change such that pricing will go down,” said Marion Gross, head of supply chain at McDonald’s in the U.S. “More people will be able to afford cage-free eggs.”

McDonald's made the pledge to go cage-free at its 16,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada back in 2015 and so far, 30 percent of stores in Canada serve these eggs.

As mentioned before, McDonald's isn't the only company implementing this change.

"Walmart Inc. and General Mills Inc., are moving in the same direction as McDonald’s. Kraft Heinz Co. says 60 percent of its supply is cage-free or free-range globally, while General Mills reached 40 percent last year," writes "Bloomberg."

Burger King previously set the goal of being cage-free by 2017 but wasn't able to achieve it. The fast-food chain is now also aiming for 2025.

This is one of the many ways QSR brands are trying to compete with the fast casual segment. Last year, McDonald's launched a new Dollar menu too. Watch the On-Foodable Weekly below to learn more.

Pita Pit Partners With Canadian Cannabis Company

Pita Pit is jumping on the cannabis bandwagon. This week, it was announced that the food chain struck a deal with WeedMD inc, a cannabis company in Canada to open a new venture.

Together the companies will be opening Pioneer Cannabis Co. Inc., that will be focused on helping entrepreneurs open cannabis stores in the private market.

"Our objective is to be a competitive player in this marketplace as it grows," said Jordan Schwartz, chief executive officer at Pioneer Cannabis Co. Inc.

When Canada legalized cannabis last October, distributors were battling it out to get product, especially in the private sectors. There are two markets when it comes to Canada's new cannabis industry- the private cannabis market and the federal government-ran market.

Multiple provinces in Canada, including Alberta, have opted to have private retailers sell cannabis versus having government-controlled stores.

But Provinces with the government-controlled stores have also struggled to meet the demand for cannabis. Stores in Quebec, for example, have been restricted to open for just four days a week in the past.

Pioneer Cannabis Co. Inc. will be focusing on the private sectors. Even with the cannabis shortages and the initial operational challenges of the new industry, Pioneer and Pita Pit see a lot of potential in this retail market.

"We believe that there's capacity here for the retail network that we're servicing to generate sales in the $30 million to $50 million range that shows profitability and demonstrates that there's a sustainable business here," said Schwartz.

Pita Pit, which has 225+ stores in Canada, plans to use its franchise experience to attract business owners who want to get into the booming cannabis industry.

"We’ve spent years learning and perfecting the skills we have in our businesses such as finding locations and hiring people," said Chris Fountain, chief executive officer of Pita Pit to "BNN Bloomberg" in a phone interview. "Quite frankly, it's probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for something like this."

WeedMD will have a 9.9 percent stake in most of the Pioneer Cannabis stores and the rest of the stake will be divided by Pita Pit and the store franchises.

Learn more about the partnership at "BNN Bloomberg" now.

The edible cannabis market is exploding in both the U.S. states where cannabis is legal and Canada. Listen to this recent episode of The Barron Report below where Host Paul Barron discusses with Nancy Whiteman, founder and CEO of Wana Brands about what the future of the cannabis industry looks like in both the U.S. and Canada and how it will impact the foodservice industry.

6.4 Million Canadians have Reduced or Eliminated Meat From Their Diets

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

The plant-based movement has spread all over the world, especially in Canada.

According to a recent study by the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University, millions of Canadians are consuming less meat, influencing restaurants to offer more plant-based options to accommodate.

Specifically, 82 percent of Canadians still eat meat, but 6.4 million said they have reduced or eliminated meat in their diets. Consumers residing in Ontario, in particular, consume less meat than those in Atlantic Canada.

According to the report, "women are more likely than men to limit or eliminate their meat intake and more likely to replace it with other proteins."

The study also found that the majority (63 percent) of the vegans surveyed were under the age of 38.

Many consumers are choosing to eat plant-based proteins since they are more sustainable.

"By 2050, there will be more than 10 billion people on the planet, and while people will still be eating animal protein, plant-based proteins that are more sustainably produced are a credible alternative."

Restaurants have had to adjust to the consumers' changing diets whether by adding more plant-based meals or giving guests the option to sub a meat protein with a plant-based one.

"We have been making a real effort to be more plant-based, and many restaurants are trying to be a bit more mindful of trends, the environmental impact and food costs. Even in our diets at home, we've found ourselves putting more veggies at the center of the plate," said Nick Benninger, Fat Sparrow restaurateur.

Benninger's restaurant Marbles in Waterloo has embraced the vegan trend completely and offers a vegan prix-fixe menu on Tuesdays. This vegan-themed night has certainly paid off and has become one of the restaurant's most crowded nights.

Read more about the plant-based surge in Canada at “CBC.”

Want more data on the plant-based movement and how it is gaining momentum? Watch the On Foodable Industry Pulse episode below to see how 51 percent of chefs have added vegan items to their menus this year.