Anthony Rose, famed restaurateur who has brought us such hot spots as Rose and Sons, The Big Crow and Fat Pasha is not only the king of the kitchen, he’s a bad ass yogi who loves Toronto as much as he loves food. Rose also has a lot of love for Taste – Toronto’s number one food festival, sponsored by Amex – that happens once a year in June at the historical area of Fort York.
We were lucky enough to carve out some time from Rose’s hectic schedule to chat about food, festivals and why Taste is a must visit attraction in Toronto.
We also got to eat a ton of hummus. Man was it good!
You’re a cool guy who seems to always be setting trends, so I’ve got to ask why Hummus? I mean I love it but is it the hot thing?
I don’t ever do anything to like start a trend, we just do things that come to us organically. For me inspiration comes from my background; where I come from, where I’ve travelled to. The first time we did taste we did three things, we did fruit salad, a pita and falafel thing and we did a BLT. This BLT was gorgeous. We were carving the bacon to order – we were like the busiest booth there, it was nuts! So this year we wanted to showcase something that was a little more driven from just one of our restaurants and also something that would go with Taste, something we thought no one else was going to do and also something that was health conscious forward. Does that make sense?
Plus it’s the summertime and it’s hot outside and as much as everyone loves the BLT, it’s big! It’s a lot. We wanted to do something a little lighter a little more elegant.
Why did you choose to showcase Fat Pasha rather than one of you other spots like Big Crow or Rose and Sons?
We showcased Rose and Sons the first year. It was really country rustic and gorgeous but this year, if you look at all of the other people that will be showcasing, like Barq BBQ, we just wanted something that was a little more unique so we landed at Fat Pasha. We played with doing Schmaltz but we decided, no, let’s just do something really, really simple. And I like the idea of being able to order something as simple as the Fat Pasha Hummus, which is just some chickpeas and pita with a little smoked chipotle powder, and adding onto it. We’ve created three different levels – all based on the Fat Pasha hummus – but then we add onto it as well. We’ve got hummus with chicken, and then the outrageous, over the top one is topped with fois gras. What I love about adding Fois Gras is that it was essentially born in the Middle East. There are these gorgeous cave etchings of Egyptians force feeding goose, so it’s very apropo.
Can you explain how you’re going to be serving it? You guys are really popular and your food is incredible so I know you’ll draw a crowd. How are you going to manage the lines and getting the food out?
Do you think we’re popular? *laughs
We have the traditional hummus which is chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, lots of olive oil, finished with some warm chickpeas on top and then a good amount of parsley and some smoke chipotle powder. Then we have a falafel hummus, which is our base hummus topped with a little more tahini and a couple of falafel balls too. And the falafel balls are spectacular. Most places don’t make them from scratch, but we grind our own chickpeas, use a shit ton of parsley so they’re green and juicy. Amazing. And then the last one we’re serving is a za’tar chicken. We take the chicken breast and marinade it overnight in zaa’tar spices and grill it so it’s got a nice smokey flavor to it. So we have two vegetarian options and then the grilled chicken and then the last one is the fois gras and it’s to die for. We’re serving it with something called omba, which is dried apricots made into this almost jam like substance and that goes right on top.
Why do you do Taste of Toronto?
I love the people. I worked with Jasmine Baker who owns For The Love of Food, years ago at The Drake Hotel and when she told me about Taste I was in. Anything she does, we do. Also, the people who work directly for Taste are really cool people. They create a really interesting vibe to their event so it’s easy.
The location is also very special. You’ve got everyone from around the city coming down and you’re in this idyllic setting with a perfect view of the big, beautiful skyline and you actually standing on an incredibly historic piece of Toronto which is Fort York. The food, the setting, the people, the music; its Toronto. It’s perfect.
Do you actually get your hands dirty and prepare the food?
Ya! Absolutely! I’ll be there all weekend. Though it’s fun, it’s also a lot. We’ve been preparing and talking about this for months now. You’re serving a lot of people – around 900 a day – and you want to put the love into it.
Do you bring a big crew?
Yes. We try to bring too many people so then people can have a good time too.
Taste is going down June 23-26 at Fort York. If you have an American Express card you’re in for a treat with an American Express priority line, Amex lounge access and reserved seats at the special events and demonstrations going on all weekend.
If you want to learn more about how you can start planning your summer and unlocking memorable moments like Taste, click here: www.amexinvites.ca