U-feast and Sassafraz teamed up in support of Second Harvest for their 1st annual charity event on Thursday March 10th. The 4-course dinner was set for the theme of “A Wild Affair” by Sassafraz’s very own Executive Chef, Geoff Web, and Sassafraz alumni, Chef Michael Hunter (who now owns Antler Kitchen Bar). Not only did guests get to enjoy a an off-menu experience but they also supported a really great cause in its entirety.
100% of the ticket proceeds were donated to Second Harvest, a food rescue program, wherein goes to feeding 20,000 Torontonians in need.
It’s no surprise that the dinner was created with local wild game and foraged ingredients since Chef Michael Hunter is also known as “the hunter chef”, who grew up hunting with his family at his Caledon farm, and now integrating his rustic and fun style into Canadian cuisine. As seen by the many beautiful French dishes of Sassafraz, Executive Chef Geoff Webb put together an array of delicate flavours in each dish to as a counterpart to the meatiness.
Cocktail reception began with Bottega Sparkling paired with a generous serving of canapes. It was just shortly after that I fulfilled my curiosity for the taste of venison and duck hearts with Chef Hunter’s mini Jamaican Venison Patty in Scotch Bonnet Sauce and duck heart yakitori in sweet soy glaze; both having strong flavours to match the chewiness. Chef Webb’s poached butter & anise lobster with lemon pepper pearls cleansed the palette. But you can’t really go wrong with a simple soft potato blini with Quebec brie, poached pear, and thyme honey; my favourite canape of the evening.
Cheff Webb followed suit with two refreshing courses. The first appetizer was a warm bowl of creamy prawn chowder. It was garnished with potato, celeriac, and tarragon cream and was a suitable bowl of soup for a chilly day. After that, our first course of a perfectly baked Fraser River sturgeon came out. The tender fish was plated with a vegetable medley of black quinoa, saffron, poached baby turnips, shaved fennel, and surrounded by a parsley emulsion. This hearty dish was compatible with the bubbly, high acidity Game Changer white wine by Vineland Estates Winery.
The second main was one of Chef Hunter’s signature dishes, featuring a spice ash crusted deer rack. It was served over an ample ragu of braised shoulder mixed with swiss chard and a parsnip puree to hold everything together. The deer had a tender texture and was not gamey at all! Of course the red meat was complimented with an Italian cherry Pinot Noir, known as Reif Estate Winery’s Magician Pinot Shiraz.
Last but not least, Chef Hunter’s dessert did not disappoint. The classic ricotta cheesecake, with a country-side/forest twist, had a smokey white spruce flavour. It went well with the dense and flakey black walnut crust and sweet wild blueberry compote.
Overall, the success in this U-feast dinner at Sassafraz was not only shown in our ability to conquer that delicious 4-course meal of a deer rack, but also in being able to fully contribute to Second Harvest’s mission statement: “To never let food go to waste so that no one goes hungry”. Being able to help out local Torontonians in need with this charity whilst experiencing Canadian cuisine using local, quality, organic ingredients was an excellent cause. This wouldn’t have been possible without their longtime supporters and sponsors: ACE Bakery, Sassafraz, Antler Kitchen, Foodism Toronto, Bottega, Reif Estate Winery, Vineland Estates Winery, Evian, France Badoit Mineral Water, and World Meats Inc.
Congrats on raising $10,000 in support of Second Harvest.
For more information:
Instagram: @U_feast #Ufeastagainsthunger
Twitter: @U_feast #Ufeastagainsthunger
Photos by Janey Tso