August 26 2011
Toronto is, without a doubt, a foodie city. With its multicultural population comes a vibrant and diverse culinary scene – no wonder, then, that a cookshop is thriving in the bustling neighbourhood of Kensington Market. Rubbing shoulders with vintage clothing boutiques, grocery stores and cool cafés, Good Egg is not only a delight for food fans, but also a visual treat – bright, light and tempting.
“I like old-school candy shops,” says owner Mika Bareket. “My taste is very childish – bright colours and simple geometric patterns. This works nicely against the white walls, creating a pop effect.”
Arranged in one big room, the layout puts fripperies such as 1950s-style aprons (C$35; about £23) next to the essential cheffy stuff – a tiny pastry brush (£6) or a brightly coloured spatula (£8). It’s all watched over by a design-conscious eye – or eyes, since manager Annie Roper provides a natural-toned counterbalance to Bareket’s love of colour.
Both, however, go in for the Scandinavian flair of Marimekko, with its bold patterned bibs (£8), teapots (£58) and tablecloths (£81). Equally well designed are the heavy hitters of the kitchen: cast-iron Le Creuset casserole dishes (£65), Imperia pasta makers (£58) and copper Mauviel mixing bowls (from £97).
But it’s books that are Good Egg’s bread and butter. Before venturing out on her own in 2008, Bareket worked in book retail for 20 years, and here she has “whittled the world of cookbooks down to the best of the best”. Tucked into intimate nooks, the appetising selection is “browser-friendly, organised by category or region”. Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigel Slater (“He is my favourite recipe writer. He sets a tone over my store”) all get a look-in, as do reference books: from Julia Child’s classic two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking (£57) to Niki Segnit’s new Flavour Thesaurus (£26).
“My current book obsession is Everyday and Sunday: Recipes from Riverford Farm [by Guy Watson and Jane Baxter, £26],” says Bareket. “I guess I like cookbooks from the UK best, as they tend to be casual, respectfully seasonal and irreverent, with a subtle beauty.”
In the evenings come cooking workshops, including the popular Knife Skills (£49), while September is the Month of Meat, with classes on home butchering, charcuterie-making and cooking with offal. “As trendy as that sounds, I am a firm believer in teaching people basic, transferable skills.”
But trendy it is, too. If cooking is the new rock’n’roll, this store reflects that. “I hire staff based on how well they tell a joke, and what music they listen to,” says rock-show regular Bareket. “And our customers are chefs, designers, writers, artists, musicians, cute ladies, cool dudes... and Japanese tourists.” Anyone, it seems, with good taste.