Thursday, August 31, 2017

Profiling Hamilton's Women in the Culinary Arts

Co-written by Leslie of Hungry in the Hammer and Heather of Hamilton Small Fries

The culinary industry is typically a male-dominated scene, but in our city there are several talented women making waves. Delicious, and innovative, waves. We have rounded up some of our favourite females utilizing their talents in the Hamilton food industry:

One of my favourite places to go for brunch in the city is Gage Park Diner. The restaurant, directly across from Gage Park, has a spectacular view no matter the season. The staff are always incredibly friendly and welcoming. The food is great diner fare with an Indigenous flair, thanks to owner and head cook Christine Cayuga. Christine grew up in the culinary arts and brings that knowledge to her food, which is honest and hearty. When we asked what her favourite part of being a chef in Hamilton is, she said that she truly values connecting with the families who come in. I’ve seen this first hand, including when a customer came in to pick up a take-out order and had a debit card that wouldn’t work. Christine insisted that he take the food home with him and to bring in the money when he was able. I was so impressed with her kindness. Her advice to women who want to enter the culinary scene in Hamilton is to be prepared for a significant amount of hard work - no matter your gender or sex, working in a kitchen takes tremendous dedication. We are fortunate that Christine has that dedication and shares her talent with Hamilton.

To read more about Gage Park Diner, visit

Amo Gelato has been a remarkable addition to Locke Street. Their commitment to their icy craft is clear - they always have a huge amount of flavours and offer lactose-free and vegan options. Their newest concoctions are the Bottom of the Bowl creations - made from delicious cereals. Ally Amato is the owner and gelato guru. She was drawn into the culinary arts because of her love for good food, and that helps to fuel her passion for Hamilton’s culinary scene. She loves seeing how her home-town is coming alive in the culinary arts, and loves seeing all the new restaurants and food establishments that are opening up (and we’ll give a shout out to the restaurant about to open that is co-owned by her partner - Cima Enoteca, also on Locke!). Her advice to women who want to get started in the culinary arts in Hamilton is to follow their dreams and to go for it. If her success is any indication, it’s damn good advice.

To read more about Amo Gelato, visit

Treble Hall on John St. North is one of the gems of Hamilton and Toast Wine Bar is helping to lead in it’s resurrection. Owned by two women, Sarah Bond and Christine McConville, it is a lovely place to stop for a glass of wine (or two) and a lovely nosh. Jackie Hendricks ensures that the plates going out compliment the wine perfectly. Jackie describes getting her passion for cooking from her mom, growing up in a house where cooking from scratch was valued and where a fridge that looked empty was a chance to create something new to cook. Having worked in restaurants, both front of house and in the kitchen, fed her passion and attending culinary school helped Jackie to take the skills learned from her mother and grandmother and refine them even further, one of the best decisions of her life. Her passion for her art carries over into her suggestions for other women interested in working in the culinary arts. Jackie’s advice is, “Be yourself. Have passion & respect. Passion for your job, passion for creativity, and passion/love for the ingredients you are using. Have respect for others & respect for yourself and always remember that respect is earned as well as being a 2 way street. Have respect for the ingredients and remember there’s always a farmer who worked hard to grow those vegetables & raise that cow. Never let that hard work go to waste”.

To read more about Toast Wine Bar, visit

I had my first foray into Karam Kitchen’s cooking at a CoMotion event last year, but I had heard talk of them long before that. Hamiltonians love the women of Karam Kitchen, and for good reason. “The Generous Kitchen” creates meaningful employment for Syrian newcomers, breaking down barriers that many newcomers face, all the while creating amazing food for the city. When speaking with Dalal Al Zoubi, one of the founding chefs at Karam Kitchen, we asked what drove her to be a part of a project like this. Dalal said she has always wanted her family to eat fresh, homemade food under her own hands, and her favourite bit about being a part of Karam Kitchen is when she makes any food and the customers tell her that the food is very good. Dalal loves punctuality and when her orders are created right on time according to the customers request. When asked about advice for women wanting to break into the culinary scene? “She must have experience in food. Smile. It’s important.” And boy do we love that advice.

To read more about Karam Kitchen or try it out for yourself, visit

Chef Veronica Sanchez, the owner of Mesa in Hamilton, got her start with food as a young girl in San Miguel, cooking with her aunts who sold handmade tamales, tostadas and candies at local markets and makeshift store-fronts. She grew up surrounded by entrepreneurial women who were passionate about food. A few years down the road, she found herself in the city of Hamilton (after successful restaurants like her first in Leamington called Tequila Sunrise) getting the same joy from customer’s faces lighting up eating her food that she did when she first started. Chef Veronica Sanchez is so proud to be a part of the thriving Hamilton culinary scene, she states that it’s impossible not to feel inspired when you’re surrounded by talent and a clear love for that. But for her, it’s all about the connections ... connections to the community, connections to her roots, and connections to her guests. Her advice for women breaking into the culinary scene? If food is what you love, take a leap of faith and immerse yourself in it in a way that makes sense for you and your goals. Talent and passion will get you started, but resilience will keep you going. Hamilton thanks you for bringing your culinary talents and passion to Hamilton, Chef Veronica!

To read more about Mesa, visit

Thank you to Hilary MacCormick for suggesting that we profile women who make Hamilton more delicious!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Skip The Dishes!

We don't often get delivery. Frankly, most of the places I like to eat don't do delivery and if we are bringing home take out, we just go out and get it.  However, you just couple this with the knowledge that I am lazy. So when Skip The Dishes offered me a $50 credit to try their service, I jumped on that ship.

Well, that's an exaggeration.  First I checked to see what restaurants they were offering.  I was really, really surprised.  I expected mostly pizza and wings, with the occasional Indian or Chinese restaurant. They have all that, plus fish and chips, Italian, Portuguese, Pub fare, Vietnamese, Subs...  the list goes on and on.  Obviously, it changes depending where you are in the city, but the selection for delivery was really surprising.

I tried to take a picture of all the restaurants Skip the Dishes has.  I couldn't get it all on the screen.

Wednesday was a wild day. We got home from work, walked the dogs and ran out to see if we wanted to rent a hall for an event.  Then, Mr. HitH decided he needed some new clothes. TWO AND ONE HALF HOURS.  That's what he spent clothes shopping. On the plus side, it's nice to know that in our house, we don't subscribed to gender roles.  By 6:40 p.m., we were finally on our way home, but I hadn't eaten anything. I had the hanger, so as we drove home, I went on the Skip The Dishes website.
We decided on Italian, and ordered from Spasso.  I ordered at 6:41 p.m.  I never, ever have cash on me, so I was thrilled that I could tip the driver directly on the website.

The website tells you step by step what is happening.  The restaurant confirmed by 6:50, and we were on the races.  About 5 minutes later, I got a call from Skip The Dishes, saying it was the restaurant's very first Skip the Dishes order, and could they have a bit more time to get it ready.  Immediately, in my head, I'm thinking, "Great.  Now dinner will come at 8 p.m.". Nope - the food would still be to me by 7:30 p.m.  Honestly, I wouldn't have even expected a phone call for that, but I'm impressed they went to the effort.

I could see when my driver picked up the order, track his car as he drove up the precarious mountain brow until he reached my house.  Love it!  Despite coming from lower Stoney Creek to the east Mountain, the food was still fresh and warm. It was a great way to try Spasso (and I'll have their pizza again) and the ease of ordering using Skip the Dishes was fantastic.

This photo does not really show the pizza to it's best, but I was really, really hungry and couldn't be bothered to stage a good picture.  Please forgive me.
Now, onto the part you care about!  You can save 10% off your order by using the code HAMMEREATS when ordering. Even better, you can win $50 of credits to try out Skip The Dishes yourself! Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want another chance to win?  Hamilton Small Fries is giving away another $50 gift card on her Instagram!

Disclaimer: Skip the Dishes provided me with $50 of credit to try their service and the $50 in credit for the winner of the contest.  This did not influence my review.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017


Way back when the sun didn't set at 5 p.m., I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting for Pintoh cuisine.
Pintoh is a new restaurant in downtown Burlington.  Their focus is on authentic Thai food - not the Canadianized dishes we so often eat here in Canada.  From what I've seen, they've succeeded, and the food was delicious.

The drinks are much fun.  One of my favs, the Pintoh sour, changed colour while tasting delicious - and as a science teacher, I love examples of neutralization reactions in real life.  The white sangria was also delicious and highly recommended.

 There are so many vegetarian options on the menu, and I enjoyed them all, including the ones I didn't think I would.  I am not a curry fan. Yes, yes, I know  all vegetarians are supposed to love curry, but I don't.  I do, however, believe in trying everything put in front of me,so I did and I was so pleasantly surprised.

 The food was fresh.  Crunchy, fun to eat and tasty. As my good friend (because I watch her on TV, so we are besties in my head) Mary Berry would say, they went down a treat.

In summary - this is some really terrific Thai food.  Perfect for a date night.  Highly recommended, it's definitely worth the drive into Burlington.