Joys of summer: hanging out with chef Tyler Florence at the Jays game

Joys of summer: hanging out with chef Tyler Florence at the Jays game

Tyler Florence at the Rogers Centre (Image: Karon Liu)

The summer may be over, but we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to watch a Jays game with chef Tyler Florence in the coveted 400 seats at the Rogers Centre—especially considering he was letting us taste one of his new creations. Florence was in town with the California Table Grape Commission as part of a five-stadium tour to promote, well, grapes. Specifically, he and his colleagues want the fruit to be sold in cups at the concession stands as a healthy alternative to peanuts and Cracker Jacks. After throwing the first pitch, Florence rushed upstairs, grabbed a beer and waxed poetic about healthy eating.

“I try to live the message I’m sending out and try to take care of myself every day. I love great food and international cuisine, and it pulls everybody together no matter what their economic class is,” says the TV chef, adding that the Food Network acts as “an equalizer” by teaching the masses how to cook and shop for ingredients.

Noting that this was only his third time in Toronto, Florence diplomatically demurred when asked if he had a favourite spot in the city. However, the host of Food Truck Wars did point out the ubiquity of poutine trucks here.

A press release was sent out earlier for a grape relish he created to accompany hot dogs and hamburgers, and lo and behold, a bowl of it sat in front of the rotating hot dog machine. “It takes the idea of sweet pickle relish and transfers the crunch and sugar from the pickles to grapes,” he says. “Garlic, onions, mustard seed and vinegar are already used in making relish; it’s just the addition of grapes that’s different.”

Skeptical at first, the relish won us over by the end of our hot dog, and Florence was happy to share the recipe:

Tyler Florence’s Grape Relish

½ cup of diced red and green California grapes
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp mustard seed
1 minced garlic clove

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. Spoon some on a burger or hot dog and add a streak of yellow mustard.

The relish wasn’t the only winner that day. The Jays beat the Orioles 6-4.