Cactus Club Cafe Gives Back
Photos courtesy of Cactus Club Cafe
Success does not come easily in a community as volatile as Toronto’s restaurant industry. With a plethora of culinary options available to the urban gastronome, making it past the first anniversary for a restaurant is always cause for celebration.
Cactus Club Cafe, located in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, has more than just made it through the fold, though. Their yellow patio umbrellas have shone like beacons of success to other would-be migrants to the Toronto restaurant scene.
A west coast mainstay, the posh restaurant opened its first eastern location in Toronto during the latter half of 2015. Outfitted with original works from artists like Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the sprawling 500-seat space offers a refuge for downtown dwellers looking to escape from the confines of their office and indulge in tantalizing culinary fare. But doing so is only one way that the company likes to connect with its loyal patrons.
Planting strong roots within the community has always been a mandate for the restaurant. Having already established itself as a leader in the business, Cactus Club Cafe recently partnered up with The Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts at George Brown College to help usher in future talent for the restaurant industry. The school boasts an impressive list of alumni who have left their mark on Canadian cuisine, including Mark McEwan, Jamie Kennedy, Bonnie Stern and Roger Mooking. In addition, a large portion of the Toronto Cactus Club kitchen team was trained at George Brown.
Philanthropy is central to the Cactus Club ethos. Over the past five years, Cactus Restaurants Ltd. has donated over a million dollars to a variety of charitable causes. Across Canada, restaurants are empowered to support initiatives of their choice so they can make a meaningful impact at the local community level, including cooking, catering, volunteering and service. To celebrate a year of success in the city, Cactus Club Cafe will provide The Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts with a $15,000 endowment, along with several annual scholarships for its students.
In the lead-up to their one-year anniversary celebratory dinner (which included city notables, athletes and leaders) Executive Chef at the Test Kitchen in Vancouver, Rob Feenie, was on hand to mentor 12 rising culinary stars from George Brown in preparation for the October event in a week-long workshop.
Chef Feenie and the students prepared an Ontario celeriac soup with Canadian aged white cheddar cheese and brioche croutons for the first course, followed by a pan-roasted branzino with Du Puy lentils and port wine jus. Feenie’s use of fresh, sustainable ingredients to create simple yet elegant dishes is what he is known for.
For the final course, they prepared a pheasant boudin blanc with chicken and duck presse, brown butter and maple butternut squash puree, hickory smoked bacon, and black truffle jus. The meal was topped off with a sticky toffee pudding and butterscotch sauce.
While the culinary landscape only continues to become more diverse and competitive, Cactus Club Cafe has shown that the real way to resonate within the community is not by just offering outstanding fare, but also by giving back.