Cooking For Joy

Be proud of looking at what you have and making something delicious

Photo: Corey Mintz

Editor’s Note: Heated has asked contributors to write about a dish they’re cooking that cuts through bleak headlines, forced isolation, and limited ingredients to bring them joy; we’ll be running at least one contribution a day through this stay-at-home stretch.

Like most people, my favorite thing to cook and eat is noodles. Doesn’t matter if it’s getting orecchiette so ideally al dente that my wife asks, “How did you make it so chewy?” or my home version of Pok Pok’s Ba Mii Tom Yam Muu Haeng, which has a zillion garnishes but is essentially noodles with chile and vinegar. …


Filipino restaurants are thriving

Photos: Corey Mintz

I’ve finally found the dish that’s made me fall in love with Filipino food.

The cast iron plate of sisig, chopped pork simmered in chile, vinegar and onions, is still sizzling when it hits the table. A wedge of calamansi — like a Philippine lime that’s a citrus-kumquat hybrid — rests on top. Squeezing a few drops of juice, and taking a bite that is equal parts soft flesh, creamy fat, and skin as chewy as butterscotch, my eyes flutter. It is that good.


A city without one is like Star Wars without Darth Vader

Photos: Corey Mintz

When I started my career reviewing restaurants, my city of 3 million people had five full-time critics. Now there are none.

Following the recent retirement of Amy Pataki from the Toronto Star, the fourth largest city in North America has no weekly restaurant reviews.

This sad news was treated with the requisite hand-wringing that has become a biweekly event as media companies, both legacy and digital, lay off employees, offer buyouts, kill sections, or fold altogether. Twitter serves as a makeshift funeral home to elegize the latest death by a thousand cuts to journalism.

In recent years, all newspapers have…


While ‘The Irishman’ failed to highlight the benefits of unions, a Florida grocery store showed Americans why socialism sometimes works

Photo: Niko Tavernise/Netflix

Like it or not, we learn our history from the movies. Steven Spielberg, who long-ago appointed himself America’s seventh-grade history teacher, understands that. Maybe because he’s trying to reach 13-year-olds, he doesn’t credit the audience with knowing or understanding very much, and ends every movie with a superfluous coda in which the point of the story is explained. And yes, Spielberg’s version of “The Irishman” would have ended with a patronizing monologue about how we “forgot about da workin’ man” against the backdrop of a tattered American flag drooping in a low breeze above a shuttered factory. …


For starters, they have a problem with cask-strength fish sauce

Sai Grok Leuang, or house-made Thai blood sausage with a dipping sauce of fermented shrimp paste. All photos via Favorites’ Instagram.

When the health inspector showed up at his new restaurant, Jesse Fader just shook his head and chuckled. As co-owner of several Toronto restaurants, Fader is no stranger to the Goldilockian reactions of diners: too hot, too cold, too big, too small. But the situation at Favorites, which serves Thai cuisine, was something new. A dozen complaints of food poisoning in the first four months was more than all his other restaurants — bistro Paris Paris, two locations of Superpoint Pizza, and Bar Fancy, a late-night snack bar — combined.

“There’s a pang that hits your stomach when the health…


Experts say fast-food burgers will be made by robots in about five years

Photo by Eat at Creator Instagram

The burger robot is cool as hell. The elegant mass of machinery, color-coordinated in white, copper, and blond wood, represents some important, unanswered questions, such as how automation will reshape the dining industry. But before we address that, let’s be real about San Francisco’s Creator restaurant and its burger-making machine: This thing is far out!

Unlike the automated woks at Spyce in Boston, which fry up pre-sliced and portioned ingredients, the machine at Creator is fed whole brisket and chuck, peeled onions, pickles, etc. …


Want to see more small eateries? Zone out the chains

Roberto Machado Noa for Getty Images

Restaurants, like marriages, are a big risk. You’ll find studies quoting a range of conflicting statistics and factors. But the common denominator is that the failure rate is high. And yet, because the heart wants what it wants, that doesn’t stop anyone from doing either. The reasons for failure in both scenarios are pretty similar — inexperience, lack of planning, and undercapitalization.

A new restaurant can reasonably predict many of its first-year expenses, the tens or hundreds of thousands allocated to rent, renovation, inventory, food, and labor costs. But it is much more difficult to predict revenue, because competition is…


But arrive hungry and leave time to graze

Photo: Corey Mintz

When travelers visit Toronto, they’re told by locals, food experts, and tour guides to head to Kensington Market. But they’re not told what this mixed commercial and residential neighborhood is, how it came to be, what to do here or how to eat.

So out-of-towners, city maps in hand, curious about this food mecca but unsure how to experience these ten blocks of overload, queue in front of Our Spot, a bacon-and-eggs brunch joint like you’ll find in almost any neighborhood in America.

A stop there is a wasted opportunity because there are so many places to sample: Butchers. Bakers…


A Toronto restaurateur is finding out

Photo: Awai

Roger Yang had a problem that’s familiar to any successful, full-service restaurant owner in North America: Everyone wants to eat at the same time.

“There’s such a dramatic difference between demand on weekends versus weekdays,” says Yang, owner of vegan tasting menu restaurant, Awai in Toronto’s Bloor West Village.

Most people want reservations at peak times, which in Toronto, starts around 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night. Unless restaurateurs can convince customers to sit on each other’s laps, they often can’t satisfy demand. Meanwhile, seats can sit empty on Tuesday.

So in March, Yang got creative with a solution…

corey mintz

Corey Mintz a food reporter, focusing on the intersection between food with labor, politics, farming, history, ethics, education, economics, land use & culture.

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