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So far Laura Rosen Cohen has created 233 blog entries.

November 2017

Happy World Vegan Day!

November 1st, 2017|

World Vegan Day is a great opportunity to make a conscious choice to show your love for veggies!

If you want to cut down on your meat consumption, but don’t want to go completely vegetarian or vegan, you can try doing “Meatless Mondays”, an initiative started by fashion designer Stella McCartney. “Meatless Monday” encourages entire families, individuals and organizations to go without meat once a week for the betterment of the planet.

Some people cut down on meat consumption for health and economic reasons. There are certainly no shortage of compelling environmental and ethical reasons to reduce meat consumption as well.

We here at Food Services at UTSG love our vegetables, and love our vegetarians and vegans. We have lots of veggie and vegan-friendly dishes on campus for you to enjoy, always made fresh daily by our talented culinary team.


World Vegan Day, A Global Perspective

Fifty Shades of Vegetarianism: Going Meat Free Got Complicated

A History of Veganism

October 2017

Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2017|

Happy Halloween!

What’s the definition of a nanosecond?

That’s the amount of time it takes for retailers to switch from “Back to School” to Halloween!

By September 1, the aisles are filled with mini chocolate bars, and treats, costumes, decorations and there are even pumpkins at the grocery store!

But what are the roots of Halloween? Is there more to the holiday than bags of junk food, costumes and ghosts?

Why yes, there is indeed!

Halloween is thought to trace back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs.

All Saints’ Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbours would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds.

Trick or treating, or “guising” (from “disguising”), traditions trace back to the Middle-Ages, children and sometimes poor adults would dress up in the aforementioned costumes and go around door to door during Hallowmas begging for food or money in exchange for songs and prayers, often said on behalf of the dead.  This was called “souling” and the children were called “soulers”.

New immigrants from Europe to America helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween. North Americans began dressing up in costumes and going house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition.

The earliest known reference to “trick or treat” was actually printed in the November 4, 1927 edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald.


A history of Halloween

Weird and wonderful facts about Halloween

How the tradition of trick or treating got started


Happy Diwali!

October 19th, 2017|

Happy Diwali!

Diwali is India’s festival of lights and marks the victory of good over evil. It is the biggest festival on the Indian calendar and gets its name from the name of the clay lamps (avali) that are lit outside Indian homes to symbolize light that protects from spiritual darkness.

Initially, Diwali was a harvest festival celebrated before the winter. It was the time when prayers were sent to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, for a successful year. The lamps lit outside are still to this day thought to help Lakshmi find her way into one’s home.

There are a number of traditional histories of the holiday, and you can read more about it in our source links below.


Happy Diwali

About Diwali

When is the festival of lights, Diwali, celebrated?

Food Occasions: Diwali

September 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

September 25th, 2017|

Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations take place on the second Monday of October each year, well before the November Thanksgiving holiday celebrated by our American neighbours to the south.

The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America actually took place in Canada when British explorer Martin Frobisher arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. It’s not well known, but that means that Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

Canadian Thanksgiving used to be celebrated in late October or early November. The first official Canadian day of thanks actually started in – of all months – April of 1872, as a grateful nation celebrated the recovery of King Edward VII from an illness. It was declared a national holiday in 1879 and November 6 was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. On January 31, 1957 the Canadian Parliament announced that the second Monday of October would be recognized nationally as Thanksgiving, “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed”. Festivities were moved to the second Monday in October because after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week.

Thanksgiving in Canada has always been associated with religion and culture. Aboriginal people would hold fall feasts thanking the Great Spirit for the bounty of nature. The first European Thanksgiving celebrations in Canada were primarily religious services. In later years, provincial legislatures would proclaim “Blessings of an abundant harvest”.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us here at Food Services!


Kidzworld: Canadian Thanksgiving

Canada Channel: Today In Canadian History

Why Do Canadians and Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving on Different Days?



Say Cheese, U of T! It’s the annual Mac & Cheese Smackdown!

September 19th, 2017|

Hey UTSG, it’s that time of year once again!

Strike a pose and say cheese, because it’s time for our annual Mac & Cheese Smackdown!

Yes, you heard correctly, the Mac is back, so put this amazing event in your calendar and bring your appetite with you on Thursday, September 28 at Willcocks Commons from 11:30 AM -1:30 PM and it’s just $5 for your ballot (one ballot entitles you to four samples and a vote on the champion).

Four of our incredibly talented campus Chefs will once again compete against each other, each with their own unique version of Mac & Cheese, in pursuit of the title of Mac & Cheese Champion 2017. All Chefs have come up with their own, original recipes that are required to have a local food component.

We sat down recently with all the competitors in order to give you the inside scoop on what to expect at the big competition.

Chef James Piggot, Executive Chef, Executive Chef, Residential Dinning, New College, will be working on a dish a little more evolved from just regular Mac & Cheese.  He’s making a “Baked Mac & Chesagana”.

“My dish is unique because it’s a play on Baked Mac & Cheese and Lasagne (kind of paying homage to the old style hamburger helper dishes). We’re using local Ontario ground beef from VG Meats and local vegetables for the bolognaise sauce,” he says.

Chef James says that Chef Jaco is his biggest competition because of the sheer number of times he has won the competition.

Chef Suman Roy, Executive Chef, Retail Operations, says that his Mac & Cheese blends the very best of two unique cuisines.

“I will be blending the flavours of Butter Chicken, from Indian cuisine-my own cultural heritage, with cheese curds-a signature element of Canadian cuisine which is my new love,” he says.

The cheese curds are from Black River Farms and the milk is from Harmony Dairy. Chef Suman says that that he sees Chef Eddie as his toughest competition.

“I’m going to keep my eyes on Chef Eddie, but in reality, all the Chefs are strong and creative so it’s anyone’s game,” he adds.

Chef Eddie Low, Executive Chef, Chestnut Residence, says that he is doing a creative twist on a classic dish. His will be a rich, creamy tribute to traditional Mac & Cheese.

“My dish will be highlighting fresh, local dairy products such as butter, cheese and cream,” he says.

“I’m looking toward Chef Suman as my biggest competition because his dish combines innovation and deep fried Kraft Dinner,” he adds.

For his part, Chef Jaco Lokker, Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations for UTSG, says that his Mac & Cheese will be featuring cheeses that have very unique and strong flavours. Part of his challenge will be blending the cheese flavours so that no one cheese overpowers the other.

The local components of Chef Jaco’s dish are the dairy products from Harmony Dairy.

“My cheeses are Dutch in origin (paying tribute to my cultural heritage), but are all made in Canada,” says Chef Jaco, adding that he sees all of the Chefs as tough competitors.

“We are lucky to have an extremely talented culinary team here at U of T, so we’ll just have to wait and see who comes out on top,” he says.