6.24.2014

The Stop Night Market



06.17.14
Talk about one for the books! Last week's The Stop’s Night Market (@TheStopCFC) food fundraiser event in Honest Ed’s Alley has been running for 3 years now and is without a doubt one of the more popular, better run and highly anticipated ones out there. We’re talking so many people trying to get onto the universe ticket page that it crashed and tickets being sold out for the two-day event in less than TWO hours! The old dinky computer at the school where I was working didn’t stand a chance.

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So why am I posting about it if I couldn’t snag a ticket? Well, as luck would have it, I received one super last minute as “Media”! Thank you! Now time to do this event justice and to cover it—I went all out, planned some shots, even cleared a couple SD cards (the worst is seeing that message of death “error” so no risks taken here!), charged batteries, DSLR ready. Then the rain came.


Dumped more like it. Everyone was huddled under the vendors’ tents, praying for the downpour to stop. And it did! What was great was how everyone bounced back from it and had an awesome time. The weather was no one’s fault and luckily, everyone saw it that way. Needless to say, I still didn’t want to risk, nor had the hands anymore to take out and use my DLSR—so phone pics it is!


The event benefits The Stop Community Food Centre in their endeavours and program at both of their locations.
What a difference in the weather throughout the evening!

The Stop strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality.

Fact: Last year, 2,950lbs of food were harvested at our community gardens.
Fact: Volunteers contributed 6,900 hours supporting our Drop-In program last year.
Fact: Last year, our healthy Food Bank distributed food for approximately 19,000 people, and our Drop-In served more than 60,000 nutritious meals. 
Fact: 95% of participants learned something new about cooking healthy meals in their cooking programs at The Stop.
Fact: 98% of participants facing hunger and food insecurity reported that The Stop plays an important role in helping them to cope.


Tickets this year were $65 and that includes admission and best of all, FOOD + DRINK! Yes, you can go back for seconds, even thirds if you really want. Just that alone makes the ticket price worth it. Now add to that an enviable list of vendors (including Richmond Station, Splendido, Norman Hardie, Gwailo, El Cabillato, Chantecler, Farmhouse Tavern, People's Eatery etc.) and the reputation of short queues—that’s what makes The Stop Night Market one of THE food events of the summer.

Try as I did—believe me I did!—I couldn’t hit up every vendor. I had even prepared myself during the day with an abnormally light lunch and “controlled” grazing. The food baby struggle was real! First world problems? Yes, very much so. There were 3 lines of vendors and I missed about (7 out of 30).
Besides the hiccup at the start where people were wondering if the organizers would called it, it was full the entire time!


 Chef Trish Gill of Dock Ellis: wonton nachos (chorizo or black beans, salsa, cheese).


 From El Caballito: Panucho Pibil w/ pulled chicken pibil, black beans, pickled red onion, corn tortilla, and habanero.


Delica served up their Maple smoked chicken chili w/ cornbread! 


As you can see, huge variety of food from the 30 vendors present on Day 1. 
 

The Stop also had their own stall where they were cooking up very generous (maybe too generous) portions of fish cakes! The Trini doubles were from The Gabardine and below that was a solid steak tartare from Union--perfect texture and everything but the habanero sauce KILLED me. I died a bit when I delicately inhaled that... 


From what I hear, I missed really good short ribs from one vendor (I don't even know where) but at least I got to enjoy one of Chef Rossy Earle (Supicucu)'s wild boar sloppy joes before they were all snapped up!(Top right: Dock Ellis' wonton chips/nachos with chorizo, Bottom left: Splendido's Octopus salad)

I made the foolish mistake of taking a break from all the savoury goodness with dessert. I figured, maybe it'll help whet my appetite for MORE. Well, I was wrong. This popsicle (loved that there were real strawberries in there!) topped me off for an hour or so. Then I had a bit more dessert (cotton candy) and had to call it quits. :( 
 

What drew people to buying tickets for both days was a different lineup of vendors. They just couldn’t stand to miss out on all the fun, food and drinks! Not only was pulling off this gathering of some of Toronto’s and neighbouring cities' (Niagara and Prince Edward County) top restaurants quite the impressive feat already, another distinctive feather were the stalls themselves! They were showstoppers.

They were specially designed and built for EACH vendor by local artists! How wicked is that? Designs and construction of the stalls came from Cambie Design, Falco Collaboration, Willinsky Design and more.



I can’t pick a favourite but Woodlot’s stall lights up plus the wood panelling was beautiful, and the fresh herbs on display at Fonda Lola & The Stop’s booths definitely caught my attention as well.


The burnt logo at Gwailo was super cool as well. Too bad the rain meant tents were set up and obscured the booths from being all pretty on their own. Still, what an amazing coming together of artists, cooks, chefs, purveyors, wine/beer/cider producers, and volunteers it was!

Splendido stall serving up a killer octopus potato salad with bacon mayo.


Anyone thirsty for Spirit Tree cider?!


Fun photobooth / wall set up to the side for peeps to have photographic evidence of themselves at The Stop Night Market without having to resort to selfies.


The Stop has successfully created an affordable (relative to other food events, this can be labeled as “affordable”) food event that is consistently well executed and an overall win-win-win for everyone involved. Kudos to the organizing team and thanks to everyone who pitched in to help fill our stomachs in order to fill others’

Everybody gets a poncho!! (merch idea?! I think YES.)

*Ticket was complimentary but all comments/opinions/thoughts are my own. 

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