Toronto's great vegan bake-off keeps getting bigger
Canada might be getting its own version of The Great British Bake Off (CBC's The Great Canadian Baking Show) but for the past nine years, Toronto's hosted its own epic baking competition, thanks to the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off.
The annual bake-off has humble roots. It started at Grange Park in 2009 and the organizers at the Toronto Vegetarian Association expected between 40 and 50 people to show up. They got double those numbers, but also lots of bees. That's why the event's now indoors.
Since 2009, the bake-off has attracted both home cooks and professional chefs. It's also helped launch prominent local vegan businesses, such as Apiecalypse Now! And for 2017, the event has a new venue because it's going to be bigger than ever.
"We've been able to sell out the event every year," says David Alexander, the executive director of the Toronto Vegetarian Association.
And the bake-off has truly grown alongside Toronto's vegan community. Back when the event started out, Toronto's meat-free options were limited.
Now, plant-based restaurants, such as Planta and Awai, have been elevated to haute cuisine status. Vegan spots, like Sorelle and Co., Bunner's and Tori's Bakeshop, compete with more traditional, butter-and-milk-laden bakeries.
It's not surprising then that the vegan bake-off attracts a much bigger crowd nowadays. "Demand for the event has always been there among a core group," says Alexander. But that demand keeps on growing.
This year, the event is moving from Daniels Spectrum to Wychwood Barns in order to accommodate a few hundred more people. Alexander says he and his team are expecting about 600 attendees on Sunday, March 19.
Approximately 60 bakers will compete in 11 categories - eight categories are reserved for home cooks and three are for professional chefs.
"It's easy to find the people who want to eat the stuff," says Alexander, noting the event wouldn't be possible without all of the volunteer bakers. However, they not only get to vie for the title best-in-show, but some use the bake-off as a launching pad.
"It's a good testing ground and place to build up at least a couple hundred fans for your new business," Alexander says.
Good thing Toronto's hungrier than ever for vegan treats.
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