Toronto commissary is a hub for some of the most interesting takeout restaurants in the city
The Depanneur in Toronto has hosted tons of interesting food projects over the years as an experimental kitchen, including hundreds of independent chefs who participated in their "drop in dinners" before establishing their own formal food business.
You might recognize some of the projects that have enjoyed success since their stints at Depanneur: Daily Dumpling, Thindi and Cookie Martinez all used the space at one time. So what's the next big thing that's cooking up in there right now?
"When I decided to take the leap of faith to start Spice Girl Eats, Len was the first person I reached out to. The Depanneur had always been on my radar as it's a place that has always promoted and supported local food entrepreneurs. Affordable pricing and a good reputation made it my ideal location," Becca Pereira of Spice Girl Eats told blogTO.
"About a month after I began cooking out of the Depanneur's commissary kitchen I was able to do a pop-up dinner upstairs and many customers from that event are now my returning customers. Len has always been super helpful and very accommodating with my many last minute requests...simply put, he gets us."
Spice Girl Eats has been serving up Indian comfort food faves like butter chicken, matar paneer, dal makhani and Kerala beef curry to reheat and eat. You can preorder Friday for pickup or delivery on Tuesday until April.
"As of now I don't have anything concrete for Spice Girl Eats afterwards but I do feel like this was only just the beginning," says Pereira.
Meanwhile, BooM! Pickles bills themselves as producing "the best pickles in the world." They're made in small batches using only four ingredients and come in Classic, Classic with Mustard, White Balsamic and White Balsamic with Mustard varieties. Ryan Brown has been making them for 15 years, and even competed on Chopped Canada in 2018.
"BooM! Pickles was born at Chef Cory Vitiello's restaurant Harbord Room. I'd been making pickles for friends, selling them at an annual pickle-themed tasting party, but when he gave me the keys to the kitchen and said 'Go make these pickles' I knew I had something bigger on my hands, just had to figure out how to make it commercial," Brown told blogTO.
"In 2018 I competed on the firefighters episode of Chopped Canada; I'm a firefighter by day. BooM! Pickles made a cameo on the show and I was going to use my prize money to start the BooM! Foods brand, but I just wasn't able to produce enough product to fulfill the demand for the small group of fans and stores I'd connected with."
The solution was obvious: it was Depanneur to the rescue once again.
"I needed my own kitchen, and a fellow Chef suggested I reach out to The Depanneur. It was immediately a perfect fit. Len's background in the food industry means he knows exactly what chefs truly need. I need flexibility around my firefighting schedule & seasonal products - which The Depanneur provides," says Brown.
"I can now produce enough product to have them stocked on the shelves at some of Toronto finest food stores, like Harvest Wagon, Scheffler's Deli, and Summerhill Market. The list grows every week, as do the reorders. Quarantine seems to be pickle season. We will be selling out of this year's supply months ahead of schedule."
Brown has gotten so much out of his time at The Depanneur that he's actually extending his lease there in order to work on his next big product: pickled golden beets. He says he can't stock stores with his pickles fast enough, and Susur Lee once told him never to stop making them.
If you're on the lookout for comfort food, Bawang has been serving homestyle Filipino dishes out of Depanneur for pickup like balatong, giniling, afritadang manok, crispy pata, and creations like palabok poutine. Wesley Altuna, who's behind the project, even caught the eye of Rachel Ray recently and did an interview with her.
And if you do happen to be missing brunch, Fattoush has you covered on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a take-home Levantine experience. Mohammad "Moe" Mashal grew up in Jordan and Switzerland before moving to Canada and has 12 years in the food industry under his belt.
He's brought that experience to a menu of manakeesh (flatbreads with different toppings), sandwiches, kebabs, hummus and falafel, which can be ordered online for pickup.
If you live in Toronto and you're getting a little weary of picking up from the same takeout spots over and over, consider checking out Depanneur: there's literally always something new going on there.
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