Last fall, I came to know a lovely young woman who immigrated to Toronto from Mexico City two years ago. Like many newcomers, she and her husband came to Canada to escape violence at home and to give a better life to their children. The dynamism of our multicultural community and the amenities of our society were attractions. Like many immigrants, they assumed Canada would be a land of opportunity. It has not been easy.
Her children are ecstatic. For the first time in their lives, they are free to walk to school or take the bus on their own. They can go down the street to get an ice cream with their friends. They never could have done those things in Mexico City. They are thriving. Their parents, not so much. Her husband was a patent lawyer at home. She had her own catering company. Both were well-established in the cosmopolitan business community in the capital of Mexico.
Here in Toronto, they have to start again. He must qualify as a lawyer in Ontario, and take several years of courses before he can seek out an articling position. Articles are hard to come by. Who knows how long it will be before he can practice again as a lawyer, and whether he will ever return to his speciality? As for my new friend, she took a job at Pusateri’s. It gave her an opportunity to learn about tastes and trends in upscale Canadian cuisine, and to appreciate the market for well-made prepared foods. She has realized, however, that she will be carrying the family, financially, in the foreseeable future, and the time has come for her to start her catering business anew.
She prepared several appetizers for a family gathering which were party favourites. The delectables she fashioned were exquisitely presented and absolutely delicious: prosciutto with melon, toasts with Brie cheese and homemade apple chutney, cucumber and crab with onion and chives. As some of the crowd were vegan, she also produced grilled mixed vegetable kabobs of eggplant, Portobello mushrooms, zucchini, red peppers and onions laced with a pesto sauce that were to die for. Everything was dainty, easy to handle and filling. Clearly, standards of catering to the international business community in Mexico City are the highest.
When we met, she sought my advice and that of my friends. She would like to break into the business community here. Whether that happens will probably be a matter of luck. We suggested she work with up-and-coming young professionals who are not cooks themselves, but have sophisticated tastes and some disposable income. Another option might be to add a casual line. Historically, immigrants to Toronto and other major urban centres have also flourished with the cuisine of their home ethnic groups. Mexican food is popular and fine Mexican cuisine may be a niche to pursue. One does not preclude the other. She has now launched her business, incorporating much of this feedback, as Violeta Patisserie & Catering. Her menu is on her website.
Having tasted her appetizers, I have absolutely no doubt that whatever she puts her mind to, she and her family will do well. Another immigrant success story in the making? I think so. Try her out.
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CBC LEADERS SERIES
And, on another note: ○ º ℴ ° Ο ੦ o º ° ℴ ࿁◯ ●
On Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. EST, Don Newman will interview Elizabeth May on her vision for the CBC. This is the second in the Friends of CBC Leaders Series, discussing “If I were the Prime Minister, the CBC would be… ” The interview will be telecast live at www.friends.ca/live.