Reporter: Sadia Badhon
The numbers of restaurants has almost doubled since 2006 in downtown Oshawa, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the downtown area.
Along with the increased number of restaurants, there is also more consideration for all types of diets and a focus on healthier foods of quality, diversity and affordability.
David Tuley, a downtown development officer for the city of Oshawa, creates cuisine guides for the downtown area, which covers John Street in the south and Brock Street in the north. “This is where the real food is,” he says.
Tuley has noticed many changes since he started working in 2006. For one, the guides are much bigger because there are more choices and more to fit in.
“When I first started here I noticed that the downtown wasn’t so good. One thing it did have was a growing number of restaurants with some variety, including international restaurants,” Tuley said.
“We needed to build on culture. We needed to become a newer kind of hip place where people want to be…” Tuley said. He is currently working on the eighth edition of the cuisine guide that will focus on five restaurants with the theme of ‘emerging foodies’. It will feature new restaurants and cafes that celebrate food, architectural details, accommodate diet, and provide a variety of service and offerings.
There are currently 58 restaurants downtown, and three more under construction. With the cuisine guides, Tuley hopes to improve the image of downtown Oshawa.
One of the places featured in the cuisine guide is The Table by Carol, which focuses on using local, sustainable and naturally grown foods, as well as creating community. Carol, who is the owner, has been growing food in her backyard for four years now. “I didn’t want to call myself a restaurant,” she said, “I didn’t want to call myself a café, because it’s not. It is a place. It is a place to dwell, it’s a place to be.”
“We knew that everything we made was from a whole state, all fresh food, and that it took a lot of thought to make those recipes. To make sure that we didn’t take short cuts using processed foods,” she said. When preparing, Carol has ‘thoughtful food’ in mind, which means the food is consciously prepared using seasonal and local ingredients as much as possible.
She does face some problems with availability and genetically modified food but tries to keep that down to a minimum. She also makes sure the staff is knowledgeable about the food.
Because of the limited options available for the different diets, Carol makes sure to cater to them.
Berry Hill Food Company, owned by Sarah Groen, is another innovative café style restaurant that will be featured in the new cuisine guide.
Groen, who is a chef by trade, is at her restaurant from open to close and provides chef-style food in a café environment. She is adaptable to the allergies people have or diet restrictions and caters to those needs.
She tries to buy ingredients that are gluten-free and foods, with simple ingredients to ensure the food is produced in a wholesome way without too many additives.
“It’s just a more health-conscious society that we live in. You’ve got to recognize that people have different needs in their diet and one size doesn’t fit all any more.”