Last Sunday I went to a really cool food event—more than just your average food vendor mash-up, it had introduced and integrated local tech startups into the mix. As EatUpTO’s first ever event, it was so refreshing to see a different kind of food event in Toronto that brings together other industries in the community. There was even a schedule of speakers that were invited to talk about hot topics in the field of restaurant and food promotion and how mobile technology is affecting the industry as a whole. This coincides perfectly with career changes in my personal life since I recently quit my corporate job for a role in a small tech firm in the city. The stars were aligned at the perfect time as I felt like I can fully dive into my nerdy curiousity into the world of technology.
99 Sudbury St
Toronto, ON M6J 3C2
Shirley, her little sister Hannah, and I went exploring the event grounds under the hot burning sun. We bumped into some familiar faces right away—Matt Bastile was busy prepping away in his Fidel Gastro food truck. I was happy to report to Matt that whenever I walk by his recently opened restaurant Lisa Marie, it always seemed to be crowded with people. Shirley stopped by the CheeseWerks booth to say hi to Kevin Durkee who had hosted one of TUC’s team socials. Then I bumped into another old friend of TUC’s, David Friedman from Red Fish Bistro, who was there showcasing his new menu.
The whole event was a bit like a discovery tour for us, we went from booth to booth inquiring, learning, and testing. We were pleasantly surprised at the Square booth that the Square card reader was actually free and you just need to sign up for an account in order to start using it. This card reader technology really helps small entrepreneurs kick-start their business because of how easy it is to use it and to start accepting payments through credit card. I personally witnessed its utility at flea markets in Brooklyn where almost all small vendors had one of these readers plugged into their phones. In the food industry, this technology would enable local farmer’s markets and other pop-up food vendors to easily capitalize on these events.
Another really interesting technology we saw was the introduction of Nifty Loyalty, a mobile-enabled loyalty program that aims to increase customer retention through geo-notifications, loyalty rewards, and the broad application of authorized Nifty retailers. Basil Farano from Nifty Loyalty spoke a lot about the changing landscape of the modern consumer and that physical loyalty cards will become obsolete as e-wallet takes over. Technology has made the whole shopping experience different where consumers are armed with unlimited information so that retailers can no longer solely compete on price but the whole customer service experience. This is probably not news anymore for the tech-savvy among us, but it will be interesting to see how the whole industry as a whole will adapt to the mobile world.
Anyway, back to food! We came across a homegrown tea business called “My Tea Brew”. Donna from My Tea Brew is a tea master who graduated from the tea program and decided to start her own tea-making business. The tea industry in Toronto has been becoming more and more popular, especially due to the success of David’s Tea. Donna said the strength of the whole tea world would help every player in the field, including her business, catered to those who value customized, organic tea. We wish her success! We also discovered that the cured meat business of Dolce Lucano actually is the supplier of charcuterie meat boards in various restaurants in the city including Pizzeria Libretto and Origin—which are amongst my favourite restaurants in the city.
After exploring everything, we decided to try out the Chinese-inspired baos from hot bunzz. I really like the re-engineering of traditional foods into something different and tasty. I had always missed them at TUM so I was glad that I finally got to try them out this time.
Overall, it was a really good and interesting event. I definitely would be interested to visit this again next year and hopefully there will be even more topics integrated.