No restaurant? No problem. Throughout the pandemic, talented home cooks and out–of–work restaurant staff whipping up curries, frying doughnuts and folding dumplings have turned to social media to get their food out there. Here are seven micro– and home–kitchen takeout operations we’re following.
Gyoza Gurlz, Calgary —Sisters Stephanie and Taryn Hamer and their cousin Kylie Desmarais grew up eating their great Auntie Catherine’s gyoza at family functions with their large Japanese–Canadian family. The “original gyoza gurl” eventually passed down her recipe, and the three nieces started selling frozen dumplings last fall, using Alberta–raised meats and fresh vegetables for their three varieties: Konno Classic Pork, Teriyaki Tofu & Shiitake and Sesame Chicken.
How it works: Place your order online and pick up your gyoza on Tuesday or Thursday evenings in Brentwood.
Photo: Sage Dakota (@piefelicia)
Pasta Forever, Toronto —While she has worked in restaurants making pasta professionally, Jess Maiorano has been creating her own hand–rolled noodles, sauces and other Italian goodies (focaccia, arancini) since the pandemic began. Go for a classic orecchiette or tagliatelle, or spring for one of the full meal kits, which come with noodles, sauce and fixings (like gnocchi alla norma featuring potato gnocchi, spicy tomato sauce with chunks of eggplant, basil and smoky pecorino). Bonus: She even offers virtual pasta–making classes.
How it works: Pre–order online and your pasta, snacks and/or meal kit will be delivered within 48 hours (delivery area is within a 10 km radius of downtown Toronto).
Photo: Becca Pereira
Spice Girl Eats, Toronto —Last fall, former model Becca Pereira delayed starting virtual culinary school and launched her takeout operation instead. She makes Indian favourites, like butter chicken and saag paneer, as well as Goan dishes from her family’s cookbook, out of Toronto’s Depanneur community food hub. The menu changes weekly, but sourdough naan topped with garlic–infused ghee and crispy samosas are staples – and don’t miss the light–as–air mango mousse.
How it works: Pre–ordering goes live on her site Fridays at noon for Tuesday pickup and delivery.
Sherm’s Bagels, Toronto —When the pandemic upended the music industry, musician Jesse Labovitz and his best friend, label executive Adam Fujiki, took up bagel–making. Now, their poppy– and sesame seed–covered creations, which are a cross between Montreal– and Toronto–style bagels, sell out in minutes – and they have recently moved production to a commercial kitchen to keep up with demand.
How it works: Check the site to see when the next pre–order date is – and set an alarm (we’re serious when we say they sell out in minutes!). When ordering, you will select a day and time for pickup.
Honey Cloud Donuts, Guelph, Ontario —Jenna Gollinger has the “do one thing well” philosophy mastered: She makes honey glaze doughnuts – just the one classic variety. When she found herself unemployed at the start of the pandemic, the long–time restaurant worker decided to use her passion for baking to perfect a yeasted doughnut using high–quality ingredients, including local Thurston Honey Bee Co. honey. (And we’re pretty sure she’s done it.)
How it works: Place your order online before 4 p.m. Fridays, then pick up your doughnuts at Two Faces in downtown Guelph on Saturday mornings.
Mama Ouy, Montreal —With help from her daughters, Heany Kuy Ouy cooks up authentic Southeast Asian dishes, like samlor korko (a hearty stew–like soup that’s considered Cambodia’s national dish) and sangkaya (a Thai dessert of steamed sweet egg custard and coconut sticky rice wrapped with banana leaves), in her Ville Saint–Laurent home.
How it works: Mama Ouy is currently taking a break but, typically, new country–themed menus (they rotate between Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore) are released every week, each with entrées, mains, desserts, drinks and sides. Mix and match or order the full menu by sending a message via Instagram or Facebook; delivery and pickup available.
Bukovina Cuisine, Montreal —Karina Fisher launched her Ukrainian comfort food company at the beginning of December, naming it after her home of Bukovina, the beech tree–filled region that overlaps parts of Ukraine and Romania. Her changing weekly menus may include beef– and rice–filled cabbage rolls, potato vareniki (dumplings) with caramelized onions and dill butter, and borscht served with pampushki (homemade buns topped with garlic and herb oil).
How it works: Place your orders via Facebook message or e–mail by 6 p.m. on Tuesdays for pickup in Verdun or Côte Saint–Luc on Fridays, or delivery on Saturdays.