Delicious delicacies for every palate of 2016

Plated dessert at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

One amazing part of my role as Social Community Specialist is that I quite often get to be the bearer of great news. It’s not uncommon to discover complimentary posts following one of our gala events, or meetings with a large food and beverage component, particularly when it comes to the dessert front. I delight in seeing a stream of beautiful food photos accompanied by captions like, “What a way to end the night!” and “MTCC knows how to please everyone with dessert.” And if I find myself smiling at these kind sentiments from attendees, I can only imagine how they are received by our culinary team.

Because the thing is, there is an obvious challenge in satisfying the expectations and palates of today’s guests. In the food and drink world, there is so much focus on artisan this, and gourmet that. Also consider the many, many dietary restrictions and preferences that currently exist. Is it really shocking that so many people have high expectations when they self-identify as a gastronome?

To meet the needs of today’s guests, the Centre made the decision (in 2003) to double the size of its pastry kitchen so that it could accommodate an expanded offering and array of desserts made on-site. Today, approximately 90% of pastry items are being crafted in-house for any given event, an effort that is led by Executive Pastry Chef Mia De Ala and her team. It’s a small, but mighty group, one full of passion and a longing to hone their craft.

“Every two weeks we come together as a group and discuss what each of us would like to work on individually,” says Mia. So, if a team member is seeking to sharpen their expertise in, say, chocolate, then that individual will undoubtedly soon find themselves assigned to tempering chocolate, and using it to create complex and ornate decorations and showpieces. After talking with Mia, I could immediately sense that there exists a strong culture of continued learning and peer support among her team. It is no wonder she describes their dynamic as fantastic. “We’ve really got such a great team here,” says Mia of this vital component to the kitchen environment, which is naturally fast-paced and high-pressure.

And fast-paced it is. To pull off such a feat, it takes a special combination of skilled staff, cutting edge culinary tools, and technology. And creativity, of course. The team relishes the opportunity to customize offerings so that they complement the décor and theme of the various galas and celebration events that are held within the Centre.

More recently, the team has turned their attention to dietary requests and developed items that better accommodate a range of needs, something Mia and her team found to be an exciting challenge. Gone is the bowl of berries to replace the piece of cake for the person who suffers from an intolerance to gluten, for example. Instead, guests requiring nut or gluten friendly and vegan options will receive customized offerings that are not only safe for their consumption, but delicious to indulge in as well.

It’s an exciting time here at the Centre for both our attendees and our talented staff of pastry connoisseurs. From flourless cake pops to I-can’t-believe-these-don’t-contain-eggs vegan meringues, more and more items are coming out of our kitchen that not only raise the bar, but satisfy the appetites and intolerances of 2016 as well.

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