When La Maison Onyx food stall opened last July in Montreal’s Jean–Talon Market – one of North America’s largest open–air public markets – it established a new culinary destination for the city’s Black and Indigenous chefs to showcase their food and culture. Repping a rotating lineup of chefs and producers engaging with food for a greater purpose, the stall kicked things off with sizzling, street food–style jerk–chicken gyros courtesy of the team from Tropikàl Restobar and MasterChef Canada’s Marissa Leon–John’s fully loaded corn buttered and topped with “bold n smoky fairy dust” (her signature spice blend), cheese and fresh lime. A portion of the profits go to DESTA Black Youth Network Community Food Program, the non–profit outreach program responsible for the Jean–Talon Market initiative. Next summer the pop–up incubator will carry on inspiring a future generation of restaurateurs, fighting racial inequality and slinging some of the best food in town.
2021 Restaurant Trends: Making Progress on Wellness, Wages and Diversity
This year’s Changemakers are leading the way in an industry that’s in the midst of building back better.
Fighting for Diversity
Fighting for Wages
Restaurants are making changes to ensure their staff is earning a liveable wage. Richmond Station in Toronto has adopted a “hospitality included” policy, building in an 18 percent average price increase. In Montreal, Foxy’s Dyan Solomon is helping shrink the pay gap between front– and back–of–house by implementing a wage increase. “The unjust labour of our industry is crumbling,” says Solomon. “But the public is still unaware what it costs to get their food on their plate. There’s a huge shift that needs to happen.”
Fighting for Wellness
Not 9 to 5 – a non–profit for the food and hospitality sector – is combatting substance abuse and mental health issues in the restaurant industry using accessible resources (an online community) and high–profile advocates (chefs Matty Matheson and Jennifer Crawford). Other pioneers include Montreal’s Joe Beef, which created Remise en Place to support restaurant workers with addiction issues, and Dispatch, in St. Catharines, Ontario, which is developing a neighbourhood wellness group for those who work in the hospitality industry.