Trying to keep up with the many pop-up food events in Toronto is a challenge, what with their unpredictable locations and irregular timing. And even if the location remains a mystery until the day of the event, Hidden Kitchen, a new collaboration between chef Matt Kantor (Secret Pickle, Ghost Chef), Swallow’s Ivy Knight (a former chef) and Muskoka Brewery, is at least blessed with a predictable schedule. The series takes places on the last Thursday of each month at non-traditional (yet TTC accessible) venues, and has space for 40 diners. It always starts at 7 p.m. and, unsurprisingly, is reliably stocked with a bounty of beer.
Between the two of them, Kantor and Knight come up with the theme, the menu, the venue and, most importantly, which guest chef to invite. As for the pairings, Muskoka Brewery rep Jason Dawes explains that many don’t associate beer with food: “There are a lot great tasting beers that go well with food. For example, our cream ale goes really well with roasted chicken; Mad Tom’s goes well with flavourful food like curry or lobster.”
We recently checked out the Lobster Dinner that took place at the end of June (the dinners are $100 for six courses with pairings). The meal was a collaboration with Matt Pettit of the Rock Lobster Food Co., and was held at 99 Sudbury, which was decorated like a homey church basement (Knight confessed that finding a real one that would allow alcohol service was too great a challenge). The six-course meal included five savoury lobster-centered plates, from Kantor’s deconstructed lobster salad to Pettit’s signature lobster roll (lobster is basically everywhere now). There was also copious wine from Creekside Estate and Muskoka’s entire line of craft beers. Next month’s theme is Hawaiian Luau (July 26); we’re told to expect pork, pineapples and pupu platters (a.k.a. American Chinese cuisine), all cooked by Steve Gonzalez of Top Chef Canada season one fame. A shore dinner and a hunter’s feast are scheduled to follow in some secret location on the last Thursday of an upcoming month.
Hidden Kitchen, muskokabrewery.com/hidden-kitchen.php