A really good goodbye.

April 3rd, 2011 · Lisa · restaurant review, Review · Comments

Last week, my friend Doug announced that he is moving to Bancroft to take on a new job.

Generally, when my friends are given exciting new opportunities I’m thrilled. But, when a new opportunity means that a friend is moving away it is bittersweet. When that friend is an amazing raw, vegan chef it is almost devastating.

If you’re familiar with the vegan food scene in Toronto then you know Doug McNish. He’s worked at Urban Herbivore, Live and Raw Aura, presented numerous cooking demos for TVA, won the premiere Vegan Iron Chef competition at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair and judged at the 2009 Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. His tattoos of vegetables and fruit and his generous smile certainly make him stand out in a crowd.

I’ve worked with Doug on a number of projects and events. He has volunteered his time to help me out more often than I can even count. As much as I love the late night text messages about ingredients, or reviewing spreadsheets of logistics over the phone, watching Doug inspire a room makes it all worth it. He’s had quite a journey to veganism and his genuine devotion to living with compassion opens people’s hearts and minds.

But where Doug really wields his powers of persuasion is with his food. So, when I heard he had just a couple weeks left in town, I rounded up some friends (Andrea, Dominic, Nicole, Dan, Jennifer and Nancy) for dinner.

We arrived at Raw Aura ready to indulge in a really fantastic meal. We munched on crunchy kale chips while discussing Toronto’s First Vegan Scavenger Hunt (I’m currently recruiting team members).

 Sour Cream and Onion Kale Chips 
 Cheesy Hemp Kale Chips
And then it was time to order. Dan and I have had Doug’s Beet Ravioli dish before. It has become one of his trademark meals, the dish that people talk about for months after their last visit. After one bite, I started a savings plan for my next visit to Bancroft. It really is that good.
 Beet Ravioli

For dinner Dan and I shared the special: vegetable noodles with crisp spinach and a creamy curry sauce. The heat of the curry was a bit too intense for us – but the creamy sauce and incredible textures kept calling us back for another bite

 Nicole ordered one of my favourites from the menu: Shredded Heaven Kale Salad.
Andrea ordered a big bowl of Sweet and Sour Noodles, Jennifer had the Miso Noodle Bowl, Nancy enjoyed the spicy special and a side salad and Dominic had the stacked Vegetable Lasagna. I love it when you’re out for dinner with a boisterous bunch and then the food arrives and…silence. When the food is extraordinary people want to take a minute, close their eyes, and really taste. That’s what happens with Doug makes dinner.
Man, we’re going to miss this.

Although we were all quite satiated we couldn’t pass up the Dessert Platterthat Doug offered to prepare.

We enjoyed a few bites of each decadent dessert before a good hearty round of hugs and well wishes.
Although, I’m sad that I won’t be able to call Doug the next time I need a chef because Tal Ronnen‘s coming to town, I’m thrilled for where his career is headed. He’s off to Grail Springs to create a vegan menu, inspire their guests and finish his first cookbook.
I know our paths will cross often in the future, even if it means I need to take a spa vacation.
He recently travelled to Hawaii to present to the Vegetarian Society there. I thought you might enjoy his talk and food demo (including the recipe for that sensational beet ravioli):
So, good luck Doug. You’re amazing. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world. You’ve changed lives (for both human and non-human animals). You’ve taught me a lot about food and even more about generosity, perseverance and drive.
Also, thank you to Darren and Tyler for the excellent service and support on Friday!

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