Recipe Testing for Harvest Noon Cafe

If you couldn’t tell, one of my hobbies is to cook. The inherent creativity and gratification of a hands-on process makes it an invaluable part of my sanity/life.

I’ve found that being presented with an out-of-the-norm challenge is often what gets the creative juices really going. The base criteria helps guide your mental search. I’ve met a number of these challenges by being part of the menu-planning team at Harvest Noon Cafe, a cooperatively-run restaurant at the University of Toronto. The cafe’s mission is an admirable one: we prepare affordable healthy vegan lunches and snacks, made with local organic ingredients. Most of our mains are gluten-free as well, in order to be as accessible as possible. And so here the challenge presents itself: I am committed to neither a vegan diet nor a gluten-free diet. Of course, these designations don’t form an elite exclusionary club that say “it’s all or nothing!”. However, the limitations present a constant learning curve for someone who doesn’t live within these diets everyday.

My work with Harvest Noon and its parent, the Hot Yam!, another vegan+local+organic+affordable+volunteer-run lunch spot, has spanned nearly 3 years. I have truly benefited from the practical learning experience of preparing recipes I may have otherwise not embarked upon. I have learned about vegan cooking and baking, figured out how to modify recipes, and appreciate the role of each ingredient in creating a dish. My initial forays into vegan cooking involved by-the-book obedience, but as I veer more into ‘modification’ territory, the “Can it be done?!” blitz in my head is often met with a feeling of triumph when the tinkered recipe ultimately delivers tasty results.

So with that in mind, I am planning to document my recipe tests on this blog to transfer some of my trial-and-error knowledge to you. I hope that you find many things to take away with you or that you keep coming back and add to the conversation.



  1. Hi there, I check your blog on a regular basis.
    Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it

    1. I’m flattered! Thanks for your comment. It is very encouraging to hear that people are reading. Your own site is very impressive and serves as an inspiration.

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