That great beacon of hope and innovation, The Stop Community Food Centre held it’s third annual Night Market on June 17 and 18. While Rebecca Feigelsohn covered the first one in 2012, and Jamie Drummond covered the second one last year, I had never been to what is becoming a late spring tradition among the foodist cognoscenti. What, I wondered, was all the fuss about anyway? Well, now I get it: dozens of top restaurants, wineries, brewers and cocktail makers crammed into the confined space of the courtyard behind Honest Ed’s. At seven o’clock the doors open and a stampede of those lucky enough to grab a ticket (the event sells-out immediately) begins a frenzy of tasting, feasting and tippling. It’s a big delicious party where everyone, whether behind or before the stalls, is happy to be there and happy that their gastronomic pleasure is helping one of Canada’s great Samaritan organizations. Here are a few pictures and notes from my first Stop Night Market experience.

All The Best Roxanne Keeping and Emily MatterickAt 6pm, with an hour to go before the doors open, there was already a line-up of eager night marketers. Who should I find at the front of the line? All The Best Fine Food’s cheese expert Roxanne Keeping and Emily Materick who helps run their production kitchen. An indication that the Night Market crowd is comprised of serious foodists if there ever was one.

Christine Palassio and Kristina Groeger

Christina Palassio, who manages the communications at Community Food Centres Canada and Kristina Groeger who was in charge of food for the Night Market’s volunteer organizing committee were the first to greet me into the compound.

John Sinopoli and the Table 17 crewJohn Sinopoli is backed up by a crew of Table 17 cooks and a row of colourful small houses. John’s stall is uniquely designed, as were all others, by volunteer students.

Jamie Kennedy on the griddleJamie Kennedy CM looking a lot like the hardest working man in chef business cleans the top of his hard wood burning griddle. I tried to get his attention bu he was so focused on the task at hand I gave up after devouring his Gilead Wine Bar stall’s steak with lovage-laced chimmichuri sauce.

Small Town Food CoToronto’s food scene is so dynamic it’s hard to meet and find out about all the new(ish) restaurants like Small Town Food Co. in Parkdale. I love how The Stop attracts support from new, old, top tier, neighbourhood – just about anyone in the industry making good food.

Michelle Cyr and Charlotte LangleyMichelle Cyr assists chef Charlotte Langley, whose booth is the greenest!

Ryan Donovan of Richmond StationRyan Donovan of Richmond Station keeps things light.

Luxardo Ladies from LiffordStereotypical lazy journalism prevented me from learning the names of these two charming Luxardo ladies making cocktails from the Italian liqueur imported by Lifford… it did not impede me from tasting a few, though.

Nick Haworth mans the cider tapsHere was a pleasant a refreshing discovery: chef Chris Haworth has made a career change and has established West Avenue Cider, making bone-dry fizzy cider with apples from Ontario. Apparently, sourcing from single farms in the province is actually a rare thing.

Matt BasileChef Matt Basile (a.k.a. Fidel Gastro) turned up at the Neal Brothers stall, and in a wionderfully post-modern twist was making fried chicken wings encrusted with crumbled up bits of Vij’s Delhi-Licious Kettle Cooked Chips. The chips are made with a version of Vancouver-based chef Vikram Vij’s garam masala. It worked. It really did.

Crowded at The Night MarketDespite the crowds, and a lashing of rain typical of June evenings this year in Toronto, there were so many stalls and options, there was never a very long wait for food or drink.

Kristina Greoger comes preparedKristina Groeger didn’t just help prepare the Stop’s Night Market, she came prepared for the Stop’s Night Market: the tickets said rain or shine.

Corinna Mozo of La CubanaChef Corinna Mozo of La Cubana served forth a traditional medianoche sandwich, with ham and cheese – medianoche means midnight, she explained to me, and the sandwich with roasted corn is considered a perfect post partying snack.

Shoto menu at The Night MarketMomofuku Shōtō, on the other hand, showed off their Asian avant garde flair: the diversity of styles and flavours at the event is surely one of its great strengths.

Veronica Laudes of ToritoThe ever charming Veronica Laudes offered a sweet ending to the festivities with Torito’s famous churros.

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