Sake Dumpling winnerDumplings and sake: what could possibly be a more Toronto event than a dumpling contest sponsored by a saké importing company? Nothing, that’s what. Or, at least that was the consensus at the first ever annual Toronto Dumpling + Saké Fest sponsored by That’s Life Gourmet, which imports premium saké and supports professional and consumer education about the Japanese drink (and is, full disclosure, a Good Food Fighter). Held at Propeller Coffee, near Bloor and Landsdowne, the event was designed to get local foodists to try a little saké while showcasing the talents of nine chefs that do business with That’s Life or are in some way associated. The line up was: Michael Pataran from L’Eat Catering, Noah Goldberg from (the new) Peter Pan Bistro, Kazuhiro Kawamoto from Kingyo Izakaya, Bashir Munye from My Little Dumplings, Jay Scaife from Café Bar Pasta, Andres Marquez from Fonda Lola, Garab Lama from Tibet Kitchen, and Jessica Lagman from Hooked Catering (which is not part of, nor affiliated with, the pioneering sustainable seafood purveyors, Hooked).

Joann and the sake

Joann Maplesden, Certified Sake Specialist, from That’s Life Gourmet.

At the bar, Joann Maplesden from That’s Life poured three sakés, in order of magnitude from lighter and crisp to richer and deeper bodied. First up, the Nagai Mizuaoki Honjozo ($12.95 for a 300ml bottle at the LCBO Vintages), with fresh notes of pear and apple. Then, guests were encouraged to try the Tengumai Umjun Junmai ($24.95 for a 720ml  bottle at LCBO Vintages) with a floral nose and and an underlying hint of bitterness. Finally, guests were treated to the Kozaemon House Junmai ‘Goddess of Sake’ ($54.99 for a 1.8L bottle by private order).

Mariko Tajira holds court

That’s Life Gourmet’s Mariko Tajiri served as Master of Ceremonies.

Meanwhile, there were dumplings to try: from Michael Pataran’s elaborate Italianate duo of “‘Oyaki’ soba momijioroshi octopus dumpling with uni butter, toasted sesame, ‘Menchi katsu’ fried beef and pork cutlet dumpling with fresh santa lucia goat milk ricotta, house ground panko and tonkatsu tare scallion and candied ‘banshee’ amish bacon” to Garab Lama’s simple Tibetan beef dumplings with a chili sauce. Guests roamed the room with a passport that had a ticket for each dumpling station, and a ballot to vote for their favourite. at the end of the evening the ballots were counted and two runners-up and a winner were delcared as follows…


Peter Pan’s Noah Goldberg won third place with a desset dumpling, deep fried and full of sweet red bean paste.


Café Bar Pasta’s Jay Scaife prepares his perogies.

Café Bar Pasta’s Jay Scaife placed second for his take on perogies.

Jessica Lagman

And Hooked Catering’s Jessica Langman became the first winner of the Toronto Dumpling + Saké Fest ‘Golden Chopsticks’ for a trio of dumplings that included ‘Langoese Roast Brussels Sprout Dumpling’, ‘Spicy Coconut Shrimp Dumpling, deep fried with leeks’, and ‘Coffee Spiced Beef and Prok Dumplings, made with Propeller Coffee.

For more coverage and pictures from the event visit its Facebook page here.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the company that publishes it. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

[A previous version of this post confused the second and third place winners. Apologies.]