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Toronto Underground Market (TUM)

The Urban Craze
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TUM – Toronto Underground Market. Now if you’ve never heard of it, your first guess may be it’s some kind of hipster eco-friendly market. Or maybe, it’s… something your mother might have warned you about and heavily advised you to stay far, far away. Hassel Aviles, the founder herself, in 7 words or less, defines TUM as:

“The social food market promoting entrepreneurs.”

And honestly, I think she nails it right on. Brian, of The Urban Craze, was given the opportunity to sit down with Hassel and her new business partner, Kate Clegg, for a quick chat. We got a chance to learn the story behind TUM and what inspired them.

Toronto Underground Market
550 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4W 3X8

After visiting the thriving food markets out in NYC and San Francisco, Hassel Aviles saw a need in Toronto. She began to wonder… ‘Why isn’t there something like this available in Toronto? Why isn’t there something here to help promote and encourage the “little” guys? To give them a chance to showcase what they’re all about.’ After 5 years in the making, and basically everyone telling her that she was and is “CRAZY!”, TUM has officially launched and is very much alive. In fact, that would be a strong understatement. TUM is the first in Canada that acts as a small incubator for people to gain experience, networking opportunities and simply a platform for their passion, their food. Their first event took place on Sept 24, 2011 and sold out all 1,200 tickets within a week. Fast forward just half a year, tickets for the monthly TUM events are typically sold out within hours of each release date. The one in April sold well over 1,500 tickets in a matter of hours.

Now hopeful vendors are asked to apply, in which they will be evaluated on three key areas: 1) Variety, 2) Presentation, and 3) Flavour. Vendors, if selected, are asked to come in and go through a sample round where their food creations are tested, AKA Sample Day. Now this is probably one of Hassel’s favourite days. But more than just tasting great food, she is always blown away when she gets the chance to meet the people behind the food. The single most critical trait to have when starting out your own business? Both Hassel and Kate agree, is to have that passion. That and to start trusting in yourself. Hassel has always said it’s about the people and that’s why she loves Sample Day and TUM. The opportunity to interact with the vendors and have them come in and be themselves. To be you and to believe in what you’re doing, what you’re about.

The team here at The Urban Craze were very fortunate and were given media passes to visit April’s TUM. Here are some highlights of that night. We’ll share with you some of our favourites – some hilarious quotes and great descriptions of the food and vendors. But to be honest, every single vendor was just amazing. We would LOVE to hear which were some of your favourites!

Fidel Gastro(@fidelgastros) –> “This Havana Club is just too much, I want moarrr. Dang you Fidel Gastro, Oleee”
Comida del Pueblo (@ComidaDelPueblo) –> “Everything about the Jalapeno Cornbread Grilled Cheese works. Simply a great grilled cheese. ”

Rock Lobster Food Co (@RockLobsterFood) –> “Mmmm, lol”

West Side Beef Co (@WestSideBeefCo) –> “The sliders at West Side Beef Co were to die for! Succulent and fresh, with the perfect balance of flavours.”

3 Macarons (@ThreeMacarons) –> “Light, fluffy and sweet macarons that punch your taste buds with awesomeness.”

Fidel Gastro(@fidelgastros) –> “The Savory goodness of your sandwiches is just too good. A must-try for everyone.”

Our Favourite Drink: Lake of Bays Brewing (@LB_Brewing) –> “Simply Awesome sweet tasting beer.” – Pale Ale

The opportunity to visit such a great event, has left the team basically speechless. To really see the passion from every single vendor makes everything about TUM, TUM. It’s that special spark, that unfulfilled niche, that Toronto has been starving for. And not just the vendors, but from all the volunteers and attendees, there is a silent affirmation that can be felt. A breath of fresh air that says, Toronto has been waiting for this and yes, it’s finally here.

TUM takes place monthly and their schedule can be found on their website. And the event on Saturday, May 5th – Street Food Block Party over 3,000 tickets were sold out as you may have guessed, in a matter of hours. No sweat though, we have a giveaway coming right up. Check here on how you can win: Street Food Block Party Giveaway. It will be a blast!

The Damage: Vendor prices vary, but bring cash. Most items cost about $5 each.

For more photos check out our Flickr page: The Urban Craze – Flickr


About the author


best possible description of Brian: Works wayy too hard, but enjoys the simple things in life with a passion to give back to the community. He's interested in how things are started up and believes there are a ton of hidden gems within and just outside the city. Last but not least, continually grateful for all that has happened... the good and the bad. Cause honestly, we're more than blessed.

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