This past weekend I paid a visit to Wychwood Barns, a park and community hub in Toronto’s Hillcrest neighbourhood. This heritage building was originally a century-old TTC streetcar barn and maintenance facility, and was saved from demolition in 1996 when it was updated and re-purposed as a community and arts centre by Artscape, a not-for-profit urban development organization. Today the complex contains galleries and offices, a park and recreational area, and a vegetable garden and greenhouse. Its main space is a 7,600 sq. ft. covered arcade used for farmers and arts markets, and other special events.
On this Sunday, the annual Soupalicious Toronto event was held at The Barns, where local chefs, caterers, and restaurants showcase their best soup creations in support of the “Plant a Row, Grow a Row” food-growing and -sharing program. It’s a perfect match for a crisp autumn day. Buy a ticket and you get to sample up to 10 different soups – some traditional, others wildly imaginative, but all delicious and piping hot. Many of the soups were gluten-free and vegan. There was also free bread and pizza, but with all the soup there’s hardly any space for anything else! It’s a major challenge to finish all ten samples, especially if you bring your own bowl (many vendors will not hesitate to fill it to the brim).
In a city where food festivals are over-priced and increasingly commercialized, Soupalicious was refreshingly different with a distinct local community feel. Let’s hope it stays that way.