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Eat & Drink

Is Toronto set to get an underground food market?

Posted by Derek Flack / April 29, 2011

Toronto Underground Food MarketAll the rage in San Francisco right now, it appears someone's trying to put together an underground food market in Toronto. Based on a perusal of the website devoted to the project, it's still too early to tell if the idea has any real legs, but it's a pretty intriguing prospect for those fed up with Toronto's street food regulations. Of the many stipulations, home chefs are forbidden from selling their wares at a farmer's market unless they're made in a commercial kitchen, which is pretty much a non-starter.

Inspired by the SF Underground Market, which stared in a private home in 2009 and has grown to include 47 vendors and over 1000 attendees, the Toronto version is in its absolute infancy (it's basically just a Tumblr blog right now). Its success will thus depend largely in the level of interest shown by the community at large. According to the recently created website — the first post is dated April 26th — the market is currently looking to drum up interest from those willing and able to sell their food.

"I am in the process of bringing the dream to fruition but I need vendors. FOODIES: If you like to cook for your friends & family, but want to get your food out there, contact me.This will not be possible without you! I hope to bring together ambitious like-minded cooks. The Toronto Food community needs to taste your talent," so reads the call for collaborators.

The SF Market bypasses street food regulations by operating as a members club, which one would expect would be the strategy here as well. So while I'm not so big on the word "foodie" being used so unabashedly, it'll be very interesting to see how this all plays out. We've sent off an inquiry for more information, and will update this post if and when we receive it. In the meantime, home chefs eager to test their mettle might want to think about signing up.

Toronto Underground Food Market



Steve / April 29, 2011 at 10:19 am
Great idea, but I'm not holding my breathe. The members club is always the way these things try to bypass the law, but it rarely works. Remember when some bars tried to become "members-only" to fight the smoking ban?
Danny / April 29, 2011 at 10:38 am
Food in Toronto needs a good kick in the butt. Our restaurants aren't good enough to be Michelin star rated because there aren't enough great restaurants for Michelin to warrant a visit.

I love Toronto. It's my home and will always be my home, but the food is uninspiring. We're a light version of NYC mimicking it's style but heavily lacking in substance.

If Denmark's Noma has the best restaurant in the world then why can't we be #1 also? We have so many local ingredients to work it.

Ronald / April 29, 2011 at 02:11 pm
@Danny - you need to get out more. Michelin isn't looking at Toronto? Are you sure about that? There are plenty of amazingly good restaurants here in Toronto.
handfed / April 29, 2011 at 02:53 pm
jesus, stop eating and go ride your bike
Sean replying to a comment from Danny / April 29, 2011 at 03:03 pm
Aren't the only cities that Michelin currently rates in North America Chicago, New York City and San Francisco?

Are you trying to tell me that only three places in all of North America warrant a visit?
as / April 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm
this is why things like the underground market don't tend to happen here - we spend too much in-fighting, rather than doing things to change it. sigh.
Marcy / May 5, 2011 at 12:09 am
You are all fairly useless individuals.
Beth / July 17, 2011 at 01:19 pm
I'm really curious about how strict those inspectors will be. Hell, will some of the vendors need refrigeration units to keep their stuff at the required temperatures when they display and serve them? That would apply to many desserts and pastries, and certain ethnic delicacies. Would they need commercial food warmers? When those foods are reheated, they're absolutely f#kced. If they really follow the health code, then only jams will be sold lol. It woudn't make sense for an event like this to have the same health rules cuz if it does, you wipe out a lot of the items that would have been served. A lot of us have eaten real street food on real streets in other parts of the world but those wouldn't fly here in Toronto. If the same crazy health rules apply, then it sorta defeats the purpose. The event's going to be held in a public venue, so it's easy for them to be an ass about it. Maybe some millionaire can volunteer one of his ginormous houses for the event?
Juice / September 1, 2011 at 11:28 am
blah blah blah.

If you're curious and into food, you will visit. If you're not, stay home or do something else you love.

Change is good and it's the only constant. Namaste!
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