Local seafood lovers rejoice! Hooked Inc. has won the hearts of Leslieville residents and farmers’ market goers alike since its storefront opening on Queen Street East in 2011. Hooked Inc. is a fish store that attacks food and knowledge with a passion, providing Torontonians with fresh, sustainable, local fish, shellfish, and seafood products in addition to cooking classes, educational workshops, and farmers’ market vending around the city. I’m beyond excited about their spring workshop schedule and their expanded farmers’ market schedule come spring and summer. I was in conniptions when I browsed their website and realized that there would be a market at Edwards Garden later on this year for me to go to! Farmers’ markets, flowers and gardens, and (sea)food – it’s a dream come true.
Their enterprise really inspires me because even though I love seafood (much more than red meat and poultry, actually), it’s a food group that I know very little about in terms of location, regional specifics, and sustainability and Hooked makes this knowledge accessible. Their classes and workshops incorporate hands-on cooking techniques (shucking oysters, and learning about poaching, braising, and stewing fish) as well as food knowledge such as teaching workshops on how to select fish, proper preparation methods and tools to use, and more.
There’s so much to learn and I want to learn all there is to know about different types of fish and the bodies of water and provinces they come from. That’s the beauty of Hooked – they are so in tune and knowledgable about their products, the fishing industry, and what it takes to maintain a sustainable economy of food that you feel comfortable asking them anything and everything to do with fish. As part of the Slow Food/Slow Fish movement, they’re committed to building awareness of local food options, maintaining close, transparent relationships with both producers and consumers, and making information as accessible as possible.
Their weekly appearances at the Lunchtime Office Markets have taken me on a whirlwind seafood tour and it’s so exciting seeing what different foods Kristin and her crew bring to the table every week. Their table always provides a mix of fresh fish and seafood lunches to enjoy right then and there as well as vacuum sealed fish, jars of soup, containers of seafood salad, and so much more. Kristin and her team take the opportunity at the markets to show off the versatility of seafood by turning fish into fast and convenient $5 lunches on the go, often utilizing products from other farmers’ market vendors such as Earth & City and Monforte Dairy.
They do buck-a-shuck oysters (you can learn to shuck at one of their classes!), fish samples, seafood salad bread bite samples, fish chowder (which I inhaled during this market visit), smoked salmon sandwiches with soft cheese on dark bread, and mouthwatering chunks of fresh Nova Scotia wild tuna salad sandwiches with greens on Earth & City’s flatbread. So far I’ve only had their fish chowder but I’m telling you, it was SO HARD not having something of theirs at every single market I’ve been to.
And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way! At the last market I attended, a couple was so distraught over all the amazing lunch options that they agreed to share one of eveything so that they could try everything they wanted! They tore a page straight out of my book because I’m often faced with the same dilemma every time I come to these markets. I wouldn’t want it any other way though; this is what makes food exploration so much fun. I’m so looking forward to making my first Hooked shop visit in the near future and learning more about their business and about the seafood they so lovingly provide to the markets and our city.
Hooked Inc. is located at 888 Queen Street East at the corner of Booth Ave., east of Logan in the Leslieville neighbourhood. They are currently vending at the Toronto Office Markets on Wednesdays at CSI Spadina and Thursdays at the ING Direct Cafe. Keep up to date with news, new markets, workshops and more by visiting their website here and following them on Twitter @hookedinc