Hot Yam!

August 8, 2012

You'd think that staying in an area fairly close to schools would mean access to somewhat cheap food in the vicinity, right? But despite being in the shadow of U of T, we're still very much in Downtown Toronto, the area of the overpriced restaurants. I wondered how students afforded it, and did a little digging around. Voila, there emerged Hot Yam!

Hot Yam! (I love the exclamation at the end, very Yahoo!) is a student volunteer-run group which prepares a 4-course vegan meal every Wednesday with mostly local, mostly organic food. Priced at a whopping $4, no tax. 

The lunch, served at the Center of International Experience, typically draws in a crowd of 80-100, some nice enough to get along their own Tupperware boxes so that the group of 10-12 volunteers have a slightly easier time cleaning up.
I personally loved volunteering at Hot Yam!, it felt a lot like having your own little restaurant with a staff of really passionate foodies. Cooking for 100 people is surprisingly easy when you divide the work up into prep time on Tuesday and cooking time on Wednesday, and have an uncomplicated menu (spicy red lentil soup, bulgur pulao, kale salad, baklava)... but the clean-up afterwards is as much of a pain as it is in my own home. 

The repeated dishwasher runs and surface sanitizing was made slightly more exciting by the fact that a food & health safety inspector actually checked your work afterwards and told you if you'd passed. I'd heard many horror stories and was looking forward to the inquest, but on the day, the inspector was distracted by the baklava and only asked us for the recipe before beaming all around and exiting. I've to admit, I was a tad disappointed. But the baklava really was all kinds of yummy.

Many people said it'd been the best Hot Yam! meal of the summer, and I was glad I got to work on it.  Hot Yam!'s out for the rest of the month while the student-volunteers write their exams & then go on vacation (thank God I'm past that phase of my life!) but it'll be back mid-September. Again: $4.  4 courses. Best deal in the neighbourhood!

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