Today we take a short break from the November to Remember series to talk about an amazing experience I had last night, which involved one of the few things that’ve paralyzed me in my tracks for years —
Back when my Dad used to run a restaurant, he would give me my first set of jobs ever. While I was really good at customer service and bookkeeping, there was one thing I really sucked at—and that was anything having to do with the kitchen.
No matter how hard I tried, I could never do prep work fast enough. Or cook anything right. The only thing I was good at in the kitchen was messing up. So after I got through that horrendous experience, I never got anywhere near cooking again!
So imagine my surprise when Buytopia.ca offered me the chance to get a 2-hour cooking class, where Chef Pino Padula would teach me how to make a 5-course meal, presumably without burning down the house!
–Kanye West, “No Church in the Wild”, Watch the Throne, 2011
Anyone who wants to tell me that Toronto’s a boring city obviously isn’t looking hard enough.
There was once a time where I’d spend a lot of time home at a loss for things to do (read: when I lived in Mississauga), but Twitter broke those floodgates wide open, bringing a ridiculous number of opportunities to—as OutKast would put it—”Git up, git out and git somethin'” out of Toronto.
And Wednesday, October 17 was a perfect example of this.
Meats, Greets and Shufflin’ Feet: CanyonOnFront
To paraphrase Justin Baisden, CanyonOnFront was what a tweetup is supposed to be like.
I felt the love as soon as I got there, with Tiff (one of my favourite Tweeps) holding it down at the front entrance, making sure we were covered for free beers and appetizers, and Kate (one of my favourite Tweeps I’ve met lately) ushering us to the back of the room, I was expecting the event to be dope, and it did not disappoint.
The back of the room was totally where it was at. With a gathering of a good number of my favourite people I’ve ever met on Twitter, some of the sickest beats ever laid by Kayson Stone (seriously—the man could not play a lame song once, it was ridiculous!!!) and the delicious steak that Canyon Creek always has to offer, what more could you ask for?
Turns out we didn’t have to ask; they had a lot more to give! Take a look at this list of things we got for the glorious price of free:
Two Steamwhistle beers
Seeing tons of awesome Tweeps all in the same place
Kayson Stone keeping the dance floor vibin’ with just about every song on my Top 500 Most Played iTunes playlist
CFL and NHL celebs mingling with us common folk and having a great time
Being thanked for our patronage with a hand-written card, $20 Canyon Creek gift card and voucher for a free Steamwhistle Brewery tour
A Top-Class Tweetup
What made this Tweetup stand out from so many others that I’ve been to these past few years was the attention to every little detail that defined the guests’ experience. Giving them discount and freebies they could actually use—and immediately. Creating an amazing atmosphere where you could meet new people and have tons of fun with some you already knew. Making guests feel appreciated with hand-written “thank you” cards on the way out. All this and not having to pay a dime unless you wanted to just blows my mind!
Justin said that CanyonOnFront easily ranks in his Top 5 tweetups of all time, and I’d find it really hard to disagree with him on this one.
Big ups to Tiff and Kate who obviously know a thing or two about throwing one bad-ass party!
Two very different events. One very awesome night. The next time you want to say that your city is boring, you might want to take a look around—there’s a lot of people doing a lot of amazing things.
And who wouldn’t want to be part of the action???
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
As Lisa McPhee would tell you, the west side is the best side. While I can’t completely agree (since I rep the Danforth these days), there’s plenty of things it does right.
Like sausages made from animals that make no sense being on this end of the world!
Welcome to WVRST!
Planning for the WVRST
Trevor and I had been planning to go to WVRST for a good while now, but never seemed to get around to it. However, on a day where our schedules got flushed down the tubes due to oversleeping and being too tired to bother doing anything too nuts, getting this item off of the to-do list didn’t seem like—wait for it—the WVRST idea!
Making the Best of the WVRST
One thing to keep in mind about WVRST is that it’s not your typical restaurant. Yes, reservations; no waitlist—just a lineup; no specific waiter or assigned seating—just a bunch of benches where they bring your food to you after you order and pay for it at the front counter.
And maybe it’s because they keep things so simple (i.e. a beer hall-style restaurant that serves mainly beer and sausages) that they actually manage to understand customer service!
We did get there without a reservation and had to wait in line, just like everybody else. While some people were told an hour’s wait when we were at the back of the line, it was only 15 minutes in reality. And in those 15 minutes:
One guy was a complete jerk and wouldn’t let a German tourist pass to ask the guy manning the stairs a question about the wait time, causing her and her friends to leave angrily.
Ironically, the jerk and his friends would leave angrily almost immediately after, helping shorten the line by about 10 people between the two groups
Even better, almost immediately after they left, one of WVRST’s staff came out with a ton of free fries, offering them to us to apologize for the long wait! Note to all restaurants: if patrons are waiting in line to get into your establishment, they’re probably hungry. A little food can go a long way in making that wait better!
Despite only really making Twitter part of my life these past 18 months, it’s not as if I had any shortage of events in a year and a half! From celebrations to coffee dates, conferences and cinema—it’s been a wild ride!
But considering all that, there’s a special group of Torontonians on Twitter that I never really broke into—the foodies. (Foodies are way better at writing about food than I am; if you want to see how this event unfolded through the eyes of a foodie, you should check out mi amiga Joie’s post on it!)
I’ve made a ton of foodie friends over time—conversation with them will invariably turn to the new place they tried, new technique/device they used in their cooking, or the new tastes they’ve been acquiring in their lives.
For someone like me who usually sticks to their stomping grounds and doesn’t often cook as to avoid poisoning himself and whoever else might fall prey to his cuisine—this was all completely foreign!
So when I heard through the tweetvine that this guy named Ken was organizing a pig roast Tweetup as a send-off to Marben’s chef, Misha Nesterenko, saying “no” didn’t even remotely sound like an option.
I’ve said that over time as you use Twitter, you come to learn who you could see as part of your life beyond 140 characters and who will forever be “just someone I know from Twitter”. Fortunately, this event was shared with plenty of people from the first category!
Upon arrival, Ken presented us with funky name tags and manoeuvred us around the Marben basement masterfully, finding seats for everyone without too much of a problem.
For a mere $25, we go to gorge ourselves on:
cranberry baked beans (thanks to Yvonne for reminding me!)
coleslaw seasoned with a Dijon mustard;
kim chi and apple salad;
fries with sides of ketchup and truffle aioli;
and of course—spit-roasted pig with a delicious BBQ sauce!
You’d get this all family style, so in servings meant to feed a group—so when the amazingladiesaccompanyingme in my group had their fill, I wasn’t left wanting for more—there was more than enough to go around!
The night was a testament to the good times that can come together on account of social media, and the fact that people who use social media every day of their lives can still keep the social in the equation (which was only further accented by the fact that this event marked my 1000th Foursquare check-in). While I didn’t get a chance to meet Chef Misha and wish him well, I’d like to think that the crowd that came out can be its own testament to the fact that his reputations preceded him, and preceded him well.