One of the things I love most is when businesses give back to the community in which they operate. That idea in itself is one of the cornerstone’s that we built this very magazine on. So when Mark and I discovered that Hawthorne Food & Drink does exactly that, it wasn’t hard to convince us to come in and sample their generosity infused gastronomical offering.
In fact, Hawthorne Food & Drink’s entire reason for being is to give back to the community. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, they locally and sustainably source their ingredients wherever possible, their ever-changing menu drawing inspiration from the food we grow right here in Ontario. They also provide free training and career development for people seeking employment, including newcomers to Canada, unemployed youth and people with disabilities through their work with the Hospitality Workers Training Centre (HWTC). The HWTC is a non-profit organization created in partnership with the Hospitality Workers’ union (UNITE HERE Local 75) and some of Toronto’s top hotels. Inspired by the Culinary Training Academy of Las Vegas, the HWTC works with various employers in Toronto’s hospitality and food service sector, existing employees and those seeking employment, with the goal of strengthening our city’s hospitality workforce. In 2015, HWTC trained 300 people at Hawthorne and other partner facilities, with 80% of them finding jobs in hospitality within the same year!
When you go to a restaurant that’s known for its ingenuity and creativity, sometimes it’s best to just let the experts decide for you. After checking in re: food allergies and intolerances, Chef Donald Williams took the wheel and selected our starter and mains for us, ensuring that we tasted the best that his kitchen had to offer. We also got a sneak peek at some menu items that are just being added to their upcoming spring menu, out on March 13th.
For our starter, Chef Donald insisted we try his new BBQ chicken flatbread, and we couldn’t say no. Good thing we didn’t because it was delicious. The flatbread featured a pesto base, seasoned chicken, topped with a fresh and colorful assortment of vegetables and drizzled in a divine barbecue sauce. Sweet and savoury, it was the perfect shareable appetizer, sating our hungry bellies while leaving room for the main course.
With so many great mains to choose from, we simply told Chef David what caught our eye and let him make the decisions for us. For Mark, the seafood pasta, filled with plump shrimp, juicy grape tomatoes, dark greens and a light yet decadent sauce. Hearty and flavorful, yet light enough to give that just full enough feeling, it was a great recommendation. For me, the salmon stir-fry, a dish that was as bright and colorful to my taste buds as it was to my eyes with its assortment of fresh veggies, bright slaw and sweet and savoury sauce. I’m not usually the biggest salmon fan (aside from in sushi) but I was well rewarded for stepping out of my comfort zone with this delicious dish.
With so many dining options in our fair city to choose from, next time you’re debating where to go for a good meal, consider Hawthorne Food & Drink, where your meal does as much good for the community as it does for your mind, body and soul.