We dropped by the Great Toronto Tartare-off to discover a meatetarian frenzy

We dropped by the Great Toronto Tartare-off to discover a meatetarian frenzy

Luma’s Jason Bangerter predicted the event was going to be a meat fest, so he opted for a tuna tartare instead. 

Last night, Grapes for Humanity corralled some of the city’s top culinary talent under one roof (that of the Fairmont Royal York Hotel) for RAW! The Great Toronto Tartare-Off, an event to raise funds to support a high school in Guatemala. A panel of judges, consisting of John Higgins, Amy Rosen, Josh Josephson, Corey Mintz and, to the delight of many, Geddy Lee, was tasked with crowning one chef the King—or Queen—of Tartare. Those chefs included Jamie Kennedy (Gilead), Didier Leroy (Didier), Lorenzo Loseto (George), Jason Bangerter (Luma), Mark Cutrara (Cowbell), Brook Kavanagh (La Palette), Albert Ponzo (Le Sélect), Patrick McMurray (Starfish and Ceili Cottage) and, most impressively, Luke Wood of Thornton’s Wine and Tapas Room who flew in from Yellowknife specifically for the function.

Each tartare was paired with a wine—including picks from Rosewood Estates Winery and Stratus—and attendees moved around the room, swilling and swallowing as they best saw fit. Though chefs were invited to whip up meat, seafood or vegetable tartare, this was a meatetarian event lucked out, with only a handful of seafood options found in the room (we never found that veg pick). After tasting everything blind, the judges announced the winners in two categories: professional and amateur. Of the four amateur chefs present, Paul Pender of Tawse Winery snagged the top spot for his traditional beef tartare flavoured with capers, anchovies and leeks, with a horseradish kick to finish. But it was Lorenzo Loseto who was ultimately crowned King of Tartare for his artful cobia tartare topped with tiny skewered potato chips (although we must admit a certain fondness for Le Sélect’s offering). And with that, the remaining attendees headed home, most likely to deal with some serious meat sweats.

Check out our gallery of all the dishes and chefs »