A field trip to Redpath, Cheese Boutique and Terra Cotta Maple Syrup Farm
First up was the Redpath Sugar museum.
I’ve often looked at this place in awe, a fully functioning factory in the heart of the downtown core, a throwback to a time before. Co-existing in a plantation of 21st century condominiums. Who would’ve guessed there was a museum here with a curator telling a 40 year tale of his life’s work. Richard Feltoe built this museum of sugar and tells all that wants to listen, all for free. In the days of getting nothing for nothing, it is a hidden gem for history buffs and sweet tooth’s alike.
Click an image below to open the gallery
Next – Cheese Boutique for a tour with Afrim and a special pairing of his Australian blue cheese with some local brick maple sugar.
Affirm captured the imaginations of our cooks again with his passion, dedication to his craft, and his exuberant knack for the hospitality industry. Whenever I’m at Cheese Boutique I feel like I’m part of the family – he always treats me like a brother, and that’s his gig. A master at making people (read: the customer) feel special.
I love taking young cooks on his magical mystery cheese tour, but I think they get just as much out of his hospitality than anything else. Today Afrim, knowing that we were off to a maple syrup farm, wowed us with a canapé of abate pear, roaring forties blue, and the special ingredient, shaved pure maple sugar. Cooked down to a brick like candy, like a disc of palm sugar. Just delicious.
Terra Cotta Maple Syrup Farm
Well this was going to go both ways…. For the Canadians in the group this was going to be boring as bat shit. For everyone else, IT ACTUALLY COMES FROM A TREE???!!!
Thankfully the majority of the group had never seen tree tapping or been inside a sugar shack so, bring it on.
Thoughts from the team
First and foremost, I would like to thank Chef Jacky Lo and Chef Timothy Miles for organizing this field trip. We made our way to the Redpath sugar Museum and was graciously greeted by their curator, Richard Feltoe. Having lived in Toronto my whole life, I never knew about the Redpath museum that was tucked behind the factory. It was quite invigorating to learn about how sugar was made and understanding the historical context behind an under appreciated cooking ingredient. An underlying theme I personally resonated with after hearing Mr. Feltoe speak and watching that manufacturing process of sugar was how efficiency plays such a key role in giving you the upper hand. And it directly correlates to how a kitchen works as well. Specifically during prep and service as the cooks and chefs must work together in harmony and be as efficient as possible.
Our second part of our field trip led us to the Cheese Boutique. I found this to be the most enlightening part of the day. Visiting the store as an aspiring chef, Afrim Pristine, our Cheese Boutique guide was passionate, knowledgeable and made the entire experience unforgettable. The myriad of spices, cheeses, salts and ingredients he discussed electrified and jump started my senses and created juices. It became a humbling experience as it reminded me that pursuing the culinary arts is a lifetime endeavor. There will always be more to learn and new experiences and sensations to be sought after. I will definitely be back there soon.
The last leg of our field trip culminated in visiting a sugar shack in Halton. As the Terra Cotta Conservation site where we got to see first hand how maple trees were tapped and how a small-scale evaporator worked. The pancakes could have been better but that maple syrup produced at this site was some of the best I’ve had. It takes a lot of man hours to produce this golden liquid, that we just drown our pancakes and waffles in. This first hand experience made me appreciate maple syrup farmers even more so, and I will most definitely not waste a drop ever again. I think I will just lick my plate clean, out of respect for the hardworking tree tappers and my deep respect and love for one of the most iconic Canadian ingredients.
– Jeremy Tang, Garde Manger – Cluny Bistro
The trip started at the Red path sugar factory which is located in Queens Quay.
It was a surprise to know that the company gets raw sugar from as far as Australia to produce sugar . The next stop was the Cheese Boutique which sells over 500 different types of cheeses. The owner supports small cheese farmers from around Canada by selling their products. We ended our trip by going to our last destination, the maple syrup factory, where they show the different stages of making maple syrup.
– Joel De Sousa, Garde Manger – Pure SpiritsThank you for taking me on the field trip!I really enjoyed the Redpath museum just because I didn’t know making sugar took a long process and to learn all the steps it goes through, raw sugar, molasses & syrup mix, to boiling, to drying, etc. was very interesting. The cheese boutique was interesting as well, like learning about how the company grew to what it is now and about cheese. I found the blue cheese on a pear with maple shavings really good that complimented each other very well from the strong flavour of the cheese to the sweetness of the pear and maple. And lastly, the maple festival, it was interesting to learn how maple was discovered by the Natives.
– Michele Lee, Pastry Cook – Cluny Bistro
The Greatest Dish Comp
So the tie in this month for our Greatest Dish Comp is Maple Syrup. We asked our cooks from all five departments to come to the table with dishes inspired by the all Canadian great ingredient. A strong showing this month from the pastry department at Cluny Bistro, battling it out for tickets to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Game on!