by David Nickle, Senior Advisor on Policy and Communications
Starting a restaurant is a risky business, with a difficult entry point for anyone without a lot of money for fixtures and rent. This is especially true for those from marginalized communities. Several years ago, John set out to change that, convincing two developers on Yonge St. to build city-owned ground floor retail space to use as a food incubator for new entrepreneurs. He then got the City to adopt his vision.
This year, the FLIP Kitchens (for Food, Learning, Innovation Place) is finally preparing for its official launch on the ground floor of a condominium at 5200 Yonge St. (near Ellerslie). The first phase of the program - a second phase is currently under construction next door - consists of four fully-outfitted kitchen kiosks operated by new vendors chosen by the City from dozens of applicants. A front space will be animated with other food programming.
Participants were chosen for the quality of their cooking but also their interest in passing on the food traditions of their cultures: Jamaican, East African, Eastern European, and Indonesian/Middle Eastern. Care was taken not to duplicate what nearby restaurants were offering.
Cameron and Camille make sure they home-test all the meals they serve at Da Endz.
Everything that Camille and Cameron serve across the counter at Da Endz had its start at their dining room table. Laid off from work in the early days of the pandemic, the couple began experimenting with a mixture of their favourite cuisines. For Camille, that was pasta and comfort food; for Cameron, it was all Jamaican.
And those meals, developed at home and perfected in a shared commercial kitchen, eventually formed the menu of Da Endz, a fusion of traditional Jamaican food and straight-up comfort food at FLIP Kitchen.
"You can get for example, oxtail with macaroni and cheese, with pasta, with rice; fried chicken with the same thing, all our menu items we try to make interchangeable," says Camille.
To learn more about Da Endz, visit their website at https://daendz.ca/.
Branko Vbraski offers up his own westernized take on traditional eastern European peroskis, at Bunhaus.
Chef Branko Vrbaski started baking seriously in 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down restaurants, and before long, his Western take on the eastern-European hand rolls known as peroskis were becoming a hit with family and friends. It was a natural progression to open Bunhaus, what he hopes will be the first location of many, selling his variation on the recipe taken from his own Serbian heritage. Branko's peroski buns are stuffed with a variety of meats and fillings: cheeseburger, butter chicken, or barbecue are just a few. To go with them, he offers fresh mini-donuts, and in the summer, milkshakes. Visit Bunhaus online here.
Naza Hasebenebi combines the traditions of Eritrean cooking with a vegan twist at Chic Peas Vegan Cuisine.
Chic Peas Vegan Cuisine
Growing up in the east-African nation of Eritrea, Naza Hasebenebi was the middle child and the oldest girl in her large family – and that meant that in the kitchen she was her mother's right hand. "I grew up watching my mom cook food – pots of food every day, not only for our family but for anyone who walked through the door," says Naza. "Growing up in our home was the community home." When Naza came to Canada, she brought that communal ethic with her – and at Chic Peas Vegan Cuisine, she takes pride in providing healthy, plant-based food to her customers that is delivered with love, and a taste of the cuisine of her homeland. To learn more about Chic Peas Vegan Cuisine, visit their website: https://www.chicpeasveg.com/
Cherlin helps run Teta's Kitchen, which serves Lebanese and Indonesian food.
Ask who Teta is, and you'll get two different answer at this kitchen that combines Lebanese and Indonesian cuisine.
"We were looking for the same word that both Indonesian and Lebanese use," says Cherlin, who manages Teta's Kitchen. "Teta in Arabic means Grandma, and in Indonesia some of the ethnicities use it to mean Grandpa. So that's why we use Teta's Kitchen – we are Lebanese and Indonesian food."
For the most part, the menu at Teta's Kitchen keeps those traditions in their respective lanes – with one notable exception: the Lebanese falafel, infused in the Indonesian way, with lemongrass, kefir lime leaves, ginger and coriander.
To learn more, visit Teta's Kitchen at their online home: https://www.tetaskitchen.com/