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Apr 17, 2007 09:58 AM

Toronto's best food writer?

Who do you trust? Who do you like? Who do you hate?

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  1. Good question, though I suspect this topic may be ported to the Media board....

    I trust and like Joanne Kates. She's not always right, and she has some definite biases, but she knows food and writes well. Hers is the second column I read in the Globe every Saturday (after the wine column).

    I have real issues with Gina Mallet in the Post. She tends to focus on service, and further bases her reviews on single visits, often at lunch, bringing with her people whose knowledge of food often seems questionable. If her last column was any indication, she seems to miss the golden 80's, when she could always walk into Scarmouche (or some such place) and run into people she knew. I find her columns bizarre and written more from a socialite's POV.

    1. This topic has been covered fairly recently. See the link for excellent commentary from some respectable TO hounds:


      My opinion? Toronto wants so desperately to be the food mecca of Canada but won't ever come close until they lose the bullshit pretence and start taking a good long hard look at themselves. I like to call it: "Why Toronto is obsessed with money and won't ever get a Michelin star"

      3 Replies
          1. re: Herb

            Is he still selling himself? I thought he had died.

        1. There hasn't been a newspaper food writer I could respect in Toronto since Jim White left us to get rich.

          3 Replies
            1. re: FlavoursGal

              He was the food writer and the restaurant reviewer for the Toronto Star. I think it was about the late seventies to early eighties. He had a penchant for terrible puns, but his columns were always interesting and I could sense from his reviews whether or not I'd like the place he was reviewing. (Whether he liked it or not didn't matter, a sense I also had with Helen Rochester in the sixties Montreal Star.) He also had a radio talk show on CFRB. He was voted best North American food writer by his peers more than once.

              Jim was recruited by Dave Nichol to work at Loblaws, where I believe he wrote the early Insider's Reports. He had a major influence in the development of what became President's Choice. He promoted the idea that processed food shouldn't contain ingredients you wouldn't use yourself or couldn't pronounce. I think the first triumph was the all butter chocolate chip cookies. He seems to have had an extraordinary palate and may have kept some of Nichol's extremes under some control.

              Anyway, he became a food consultant and seems to have become a very wealthy one. He now lives in Napa and has a website called ilovenapa.com.

              He surfaced in Toronto a few months ago. He apparently financed the company that is making the naan bread for Loblaw's and the Pom Bran muffins for Starbuck's.

              He deserves his success.

              1. re: embee

                All of embee's comments are true...he was an amazing guy who turned 'food marketing' 360 degrees. It did begin with Loblaws and President's Choice but soon everyone jumped on the bandwagon and now the major chains have all adopted the same concepts...some better than others . His writings were really personable at the time and I always looked for the Insider's Report as soon as it was published. As far as Food writers in Toronto...I read them all and take everyone of them with a grain of salt....I think that from time to time they are excellent and right on but at other times some bad reviews sound the death knell for many a restaurant.

          1. I'll put in my vote for the worst:

            Not actually a writer, I guess, but check out that Rick Auiler guy on Rogers Cable 10. The show is "Toronto Dining" and appears in various time-slots throughout the week. This one is truly an inspired bit of marketing. Thanks Ted. (Rogers)

            Highlights (don't worry, they're on every show):
            Watch Rick never ever say a bad thing about any restaurant he's "reviewing"! See what lengths Rick goes to to get a free meal! Catch real live-to-air butt-kissing, as Rick ventures behind the scenes, into the kitchen, to meet the chef! (And get even more freebies.)

            Andre Michelin is rolling in his grave.

            1 Reply
            1. re: yaddayadda

              Did this guy used to be on Muchmusic?