As a food blogger, I have been a part of many lavish food events and tastings over the years all hosted in an array of beautiful venues from all across the city. From banquet halls, to restaurant lounges, hotels, and outside patios, I thought I’d seen them all, yet last week’s Culinary-Art Pop Up hosted by one of Toronto’s top catering companies – Toben Food by Design – reminded me that I certainly have not!

Toben opened up a one night only pop-up restaurant inside the stunning Thompson Landry Gallery in the heart of the Distillery District. As the chef’s four-course tasting menu & snacks rolled out throughout the course of the evening, guests enjoyed themselves amidst the most exquisite pieces of contemporary artwork, many retailing as much as a new car! With this as its backdrop, you just had to know the food was going to be spectacular! Luckily Olive Photography was able to capture all the wonderful moments and delicious offerings the evening entailed.

Toben Food by Design

Upon entering the space, each guest was led to their reserved table. Like the start to any good meal, a glass of white or red wine set the perfect tone for the evening. After some time to absorb our surroundings, guests were presented with an array of gourmet snacks to whet our appetites. For starters, we enjoyed Smoked Whitefish Pâté, a Truffled-Thyme Shmaltz Popcorn, Old Skool Deviled Eggs, Duck Confit Samosas, and a hearty Chicken Fried Shrimp Waffle. Personally, I could have eaten ten of those deviled eggs myself – they were so good! The clear favourite at our table though were the Chicken Fried Shrimp served on a Red Quinoa Waffle. You can never go wrong anywhere with Chicken & Waffles. Never!

After our initial round of snacks, for our first course we were served a Fluke Crudo salad. For those unfamiliar, Fluke is a type of East-Coast fish delicate in flavour and texture. Served with rainbow radishes and a nuoc-cham vinaigrette, this dish was particularly refreshing and light, making it a great start to our meal.

Next up, the Meat Lovers Flatbread! The name is no lie because if you’re a huge carnivore like I am, you were in meat heaven with the delicious cuts of house Tamworth Charcuterie Smorgasbord, Fior di Latte, San Marzano Tomatoes, Microbasil and Pickled Chilis. Every ingredient comes together perfectly and floods your mouth with flavour!

Toben Food by Design

The third course was my personal favourite of the night! The 12-hour braised Lamb Adobo was a serious home run! I am such a soup guy and because this dish was served in a warm and hearty bowl of Crab-Corn “Conji” Bisque, given we still had dessert coming, I caught myself chasing away thoughts of “I want more” and “Can I get seconds?” The dish was the perfect compliment to a brisk fall evening.

Toben Food by Design

Sweet Ending was the name of the fourth and final course of the evening. Beautifully composed and presented, this beautifully vibrant dessert consisted of Beets, Pears, White Chocolate, Ricotta, and a Pistachio ice-cream. The dish and name in itself was the perfect way to sum up the entire evening.

Toben Food by Design

Leaving with full bellies and new friends, this sold-out Culinary-Art Pop Up event was a huge success, exemplified by all the smiles, laughs, and spotless plates left toward the end of the evening. Perfectly planned and executed from first dish to last, for me, the bar is has been raised for future culinary events and tastings! A big BRAVO to the team at Toben – you guys absolutely killed it!