Welcome to our newsletter, which will be our Love Letter To Foodies! Monthly? Weekly? Will there be a catchier name? Maybe. You tell me. As you may or may not know, "ToFoodies" can be read in two different ways, firstly as one word which uses the Toronto-slang short form for Toronto, "T.O." or "tee-OH". Or sometimes, I imagine people from around the world coming across ToFoodies for the first time and they read it as the two preexisting words, "to foodies". Cheers, to you! Cheers, to foodies! Which to me, means cheers to anyone and anyone who wants to celebrate food and all that comes with it.
To some, the word "foodie" has some negative connotations and I even spoke about the word "foodie" here in the National Post back in 2017, knowing the slant could be negative. And yes, the headline was glaringly negative: "'Please don’t call me a foodie': How one inoffensive term became the most disdainful in the culinary community". A mouthful. But I participated because I trusted that there are indeed many things that are positive about the public appreciating the hard work that goes into beautiful plates of food. Using one's platform for good and "appreciating" is the key word here. One caveat, is that it is sad that some "foodies" give others a bad rap due to entitlement and behaviour that's not reflective of the community as a whole or at the very least, not who I want to support and represent. I truly love this food community and all it's layers from the talented Chefs, to the patio stars, to the geniuses that keep a good place running smoothly.
Foodies and/or food-lovers are not saving lives, but they are championing small businesses. And to these owners, their businesses are their life, lifeblood and passion. Foodies are singing praises online and offline while cultivating niche followings that fuel discovery and they are spreading positivity through visual mediums that take you where you haven't gone yet. My definition of "foodie" includes everyone, even the people who might take the word a little too seriously. As long as we are all cheering on the people who are making the food and experience happen, I don't see any problems here.
In the next chapter of ToFoodies, I look forward to bringing you a lot more food visuals and recipes from the ToFoodies Kitchen Studio! In my new home in Toronto's East End (maybe you caught me eating Descendant's Detroit Pizza the other day on Insta Stories), we are building a new kitchen studio space and it is being designed specifically with cooking & shooting in mind. My partner & I purchased a duplex semidetached house in Toronto along with his brother, and so we each have our own units that we are fixing up individually. Below is the original floor plan, so you can see that we started with a back den and a tight L-shaped kitchen that was working hard with an appliance in every nook and a portable dishwasher in the lower right corner. After not having one for the past two years, what started as a question of how we would fit in a dishwasher became the answer of making the two rooms into one room. There will now be one open space, with two sets of double doors to let the natural light floor in. The biggest source of excitement is both the challenge and opportunity that this space will present to test my limits in the kitchen and my production skills. If ToFoodies was run with no dishwasher and three feet of counter space before and we did ok, what could be now? I'm buzzing just thinking about it.
THE ORIGINAL FLOOR PLAN
There is so MUCH to share. I am SO thrilled and yet, I'm also navigating how it's simultaneously feels like quite a vulnerable time and then those thoughts are always interrupted by how amped up I am to let everyone in, in this new way. I've always felt a healthy separation from my work in how ToFoodies is designed so there isn't pressure to shock and amuse. It's all about the food, all the time and I am there to guide you. But now, my first home is under construction and you are used to seeing me up on my rooftop tending to the container garden, going Live in the Little Portugal kitchen and fanning out ingredients on my white marble kitchen island. Right now, all there is to look at are naked walls as the plumbing and electrical is sorted through. I've had a few friends over to enjoy the backyard at different points and the feeling is very good, but also very... naked. Here is my house and here are all my hopes and dreams that are tied to it. There was month head start on all the renovations, but we're moved in now and there's still much to be done. I'm just grateful to be here though. I actually think I will enjoy being close by and watching the process come together. It will certainly make it easier to capture all the little moments and to water the garden every morning!
Here are a couple before and afters, so you can see what we were working with in the kitchen and the *vulnerable* empty walls when everything was first demo-ed! It looks a bit different now. Make sure to follow ToFoodies on TikTok as well, because I've been documenting everything in between. I am just learning, but have been a heavy consumer of both food and design TikTok content there for a while now and I want to throw myself into that ring. Like I said, this is MUCH to share.
BEFORE / AFTER-BUT-REALLY-DURING PHOTOS
When coming up with the design, my biggest kitchen inspiration has been from a person that I look up to and admire. She is a self-taught master of design and food, Athena Calderone of Eye Swoon and her New York City kitchen is s.t.u.n.n.i.ng. When I first saw her brownstone tour on Architecture Digest's YouTube Channel, I swooned and sent it to designer friend, shocked that Athena could reach inside my head and pull out what I didn't even know I loved. I love airiness of this space and how it feels unique, but when you break it down - everything is quite timeless. We will be doing white cabinets along the back wall of the space and then a dark island with brass accents. The biggest feature I am imagining is the having countertop blend into becoming the backsplash and floating shelf. We will have some upper cabinets, but this look is it for me. Not only is clean yet eye-catching, but I can really imagine myself using those counters as a mini photo studio/shadow box with a white-based countertop bouncing all the light around. And yet, letting the food be the star.
THE EYE SWOON KITCHEN
But Danielle, what now?!?! Well, to get you going but not give it all away... here are some of the early renderings of what will be. A 10 foot island in front of a wall of cabinetry. Two large workspaces on either side of the double sink. A dishwasher. A gas range. Space for all my small appliances and a pantry cabinet for all my spices, flours, and favourite ingredients to have on hand. Maybe even some open shelving to show off the best goodies! With each piece that comes together, more decisions are made and we get a little closer to the dream.
Thank you for being here and reading this first "To Foodies". ToFoodies simply wouldn't be here without you and I can't wait to take you along this next turn on the ride.
Cheers, to you and to foodies everywhere,