Sunday, January 16, 2011


i read the blog on the queen mum cafe posted by yummo.

in the name of full disclosure let me identify myself as one of the owners of the queen mother cafe.

the restaurant business is a very delicate and unforgiving enterprise. it is human intensive. everything is done by and for people. that is why predictability and consistency are difficult elements to maintain though we all strive for it. anyone having an off day, from chef, to dishwasher, to owner, server or customer, can affect the fine balance between a positive or negative visit.

the comments we get about the quality of our food or service, be they good or bad, are opinions we have to take into consideration. they are subjective expressions of personal experiences at our establishment which help guide us in keeping customer satisfaction.

the large number of loyal, dedicated and repeat patrons that we enjoy suggests, on the whole, that we have succeeded in maintaining a high level of satisfaction during our 33 years of operation.

disappointed as i am by her views, yummo is entitled to express herself regarding specific dishes or issues which were not to her liking.

however, when the blog begins with "Queen Mother is one of those annoying places that people from Toronto get hooked on and can't get over."  and includes comments such as "I do not like restaurants without a consistent direction.  Jack of All Trades is a Master of None.", these tell you that the blogger's shoulder is heavily weighed down by one heck of a chip.

the problem is clearly, in her own words, "Dude, I cannot bear those places you cannot describe to someone who asks what their genre is." if it is of any help for future reference, we call our cuisine "global comfort food".

yummo is upset that she can't pin down the type of food we serve. her attitude is driven home by her view that "I would really prefer if they just went all Asian instead of ill concieved UN foodcourt menu." at the same time, she reproaches another restaurant, supermarket (where i find the food delicious), of the same grievous fault.

what she clearly fails to appreciate is that local restaurants are the culinary reflections of the community in which they exist. they are a mirror to the food culture that surrounds them.

were she around in 1978, when we opened, she would have had no problem pinning us down as a north american sandwich and salad hippie joint. the kitchen was fully staffed by young white long haired (of both genders) canadians. you could say there was a kind of earthy purity to our kitchen then.

however, as toronto and queen st. west matured with the arrival of a multitude of cultures we were introduced to new culinary influences. today our chef is lao, our sous has canadian roots, and our 3rd cook's family is from the west indies. we also have sri lankans and bengalis, as well as others, cooking with us.

when i was a kid, my mother cooked hungarian food. my friend's mum cooked polish food. another friend had "canadian" fare. in high school, i was introduced, at my then girlfriend's house, to chinese cooking - quite a bit different from the pineapple chicken balls and chow-mein that i was used to for that genre. everyone stayed in their own ethnic comfort zone.

today, my wife (of newfoundland roots) like many other avid cooks, loves to whip up a meal with mexican, thai, indian, italian, or whatever influence strikes her fancy. the ingredients are readily available as are the recipes and the results are often to die for.

i still love my mother's chicken paprikas.

i would suggest to yummo to get off her purity-seeking high horse and join the rest of us in enjoying the wonderful "mix and match" in food that this great city allows for to both homes and restaurants.

finally, i don't think i caught what precise culinary genre is yummo's field of expertise. what are the confines to her niche?

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