West Coast Salad, Appetizers Galore, & a Kitchen Tour Fit For a Foodie – The All-Access Pass to Swiss Chalet, Part II!

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My dinner pick: the West Coast Chicken Salad!

The big Swiss Chalet Fresh Impressions Tour Part II post is finally here!  I’m really sorry for dropping the ball this weekend.  Admittedly, I was having too much fun celebrating my birthday with friends and family since Friday and was too tired by the end of each day to prepare this big post, but I’m here now and I’m ready to get back to my regular routine of posting every day as I know I’ve already missed several days in August already and it isn’t even the end of the month yet!  Things have been crazy busy on my end but in a really good way and I have so much to share with you all in additon to this speciall all-access pass. 

Let’s start from the very beginning though so you know how all of this came about in the first place.  I had no idea the Fresh Impressions Tour was going on until a young lady (much like myself ) named Emily Wilch from Mosaic Solutions sent me an e-mail about a week before inviting me to this once-in-a-lifetime type of opportunity and event.  I was floored!  ME?!  In my mind, these types of events were reserved for industry leaders and media socialites who are accustomed to rubbing elbows with other media gurus.  I was honoured and I accepted the invitation on the spot.  I would have been crazy not to!

The special Fresh Impressions Tour menu for the night

Let’s get us some awesome sauce!

I was, however, incredibly curious as to how Emily found me.  I know people read Ate by Ate and find out about it through Twitter, Facebook, and other members of the food blogging community, but it’s not a huge enterprise that is known worldwide if you know what I mean!  Emily replied back saying that she found me via our beloved Food Bloggers of Canada, the wonderful forum and community where I act as Toronto admin and events calendar compiler.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune and I couldn’t wait to get an up close and personal look at and tour through the Swiss Chalet kitchen at Yonge & Gerrard, learn some of the food tidbits and secrets behind the food, and of course, enjoy a really delicious meal with fellow foodies.

Mosaic Sales Solutions is a North American marketing, PR, and social media company that works in collaboration with other service and retail enterprises to create marketing campaigns, events, promotions, and sales and profit-driven agendas.  They have 4 offices in Canada and the United States: 1 in Dallas, 1 in Chicago, 1 in Laval in Quebec, and 1 in Mississauga here in the GTA.  Together, Mosaic and Swiss Chalet partnered up to work on the Fresh Impressions Tour this year, a tour devoted to giving Swiss Chalet lovers across the country from coast to coast an opportunity to get sneak peeks and great eats in and outside their restaurant doors. 

The food truck, coming to a neighbourhood near you!

The goal of the tour is two-fold: 1) to join in on the food truck craze and to give everyone another way of enjoying Swiss Chalet’s famous fries and Chalet sauce in a fun, interactive way, and 2) to invite fans and foodies to learn more about Swiss Chalet as a Canadian-founded business and to connect with those in the food and media industry, and to bring lovers of food and Swiss Chalet together for a night of fun and eating.  The whole point is to make things fun and more accessible, to give everyone a “fresh impression” of the Canadian restaurant that has been a part of many of our families’ lives for generations, and to maybe even encourage both fans and those who don’t dine at Swiss Chalet all that often to try something new.

The food truck really speaks to the popularity of using social media as a mode of promotion and communication between businessses and their customers, something that wasn’t even happening 10 years ago.  I may not be on the smartphone bandwagon (I have one, I just don’t text or have internet on it.  That’s right, I use it AS A PHONE.  Okay, and as a clock and a map), but many people follow food trucks and spontaneous promotions via Twitter and the like, so this tour is a way for Swiss Chalet to open themselves up to a different market and demographic, and let’s face it, keep up with the digital times.

Emily’s photo of me in the cooking kitchen beside the vat that holds the secret Chalet sauce!

Where all the hustle and bustling of meal preparing happens!

Byron, with the quarter chicken dinner plate!

Fresh-cut potatoes just waiting to be turned into delicious fries!

Fellow foodies in the kitchen taking notes and photos!

I was so happy to have my boyfriend and Swiss Chalet lover, Richard, come with me for the event (my special +1!) because it was truly a night to remember.  The event was to run from 6:30pm-8:30pm, but let’s be real, events always last and run longer and later than the stated time and trust me when I say that nobody minded when we were patting our tummies well past 9pm!  Emily, along with fellow Mosaic coordinator, Whitney, hosted the event alongside Swiss Chalet staff, and restaurant manager Byron, who hosted and led our kitchen tour and chicken spring roll making workshop!

The evening started off with an all-access pass to the kitchen where all of Swiss Chalet’s famous food is made.  We got to see everything from where the plating happens, where the chickens are roasted (and actually, while we were in the ktichen area where the roasting happens, a staff member took out an entire spit of 5 freshly roasted chickens right before our eyes!), where the sauce is made, where the potatoes are scrubbed and cut and fried, where the chicken and ribs are refrigerated before being basted, roasted, and/or slow-cooked, and we all got to ask as many questions as we wanted about their cooking and operations!

Our spring roll making stations!

For the record, their kitchen has the capacity to roast 90 chickens at a time (5 chickens to a spit) which means 360 quarter chicken dinners at a time (holy schmoly!), they can make 31 L of sauce in one shot, the chickens roast for 90 minutes, their potatoes are delivered from PEI, Swiss Chalet as a restaurant business has been operating since 1954, their ribs were introduced in 1977, and the Yonge & Gerrard location is the oldest in Toronto clocking at 47 years old.  Phew!  After our in-depth kitchen tour, we all got to get down and dirty in our aprons with spring roll wrappers and chicken salad to learn how their chicken spring rolls are made!  It was really fun and it made all of us that much more hungry for dinner!

And then came our sit-down dinner.  OH.MY.GOD.  We were all given communal dishes of 4 appetizers: their baby ribs with sweet Thai chili sauce (this is a must order, everyone!), their cheddar and potato perogies with sour cream, their cheese and garlic loaf, and of course, the chicken spring rolls!  Let me tell you, we all gorged on appetizers so bad.  They were so good and we honestly couldn’t help ourselves.  If I had to pick my favourites, they would have to be the spring rolls and baby ribs.  It was so much fun because I had never actually tried any of these appetizers before and I loved them.  We were all given the opportunity to choose whatever we wanted off their menu as our main course (I know, ridiculous!), and a slew of choices for our dessert including cheesecake, fudge cake, carrot cake, apple pie, and my pick, the lemon meringue.  For my main course though, I decided to go with the whole premise of the event and try something new.

When I go to Swiss Chalet, I’ll often either have their quarter chicken dinner with white meat, their chicken quesadilla, or have their soup with a side as a light meal.  I’ve tried their messy chicken sandwich before (it is GOOD!), their cheeseburger and poutine, and their chicken on a kaiser, but for the most part those first items are the ones I lean toward the most.  This time I chose their West Coast Chicken Salad and I was really happy to find out that I enjoyed it immensely!  And I say that because I never used to like nuts!  Their West Coast Salad is a main course salad chock full of baby greens, discs of chicken breasts, mandarin oranges, feta cheese, red onion, dried cranberries, and walnuts.  I find myself enjoying nuts so much more these days and I loved how the walnuts lended crunch and texture to the salad.  I really enjoyed it (and my Chalet sauce, YUM) and continued to enjoy it the next day for lunch along with my lemon meringue pies as I had leftovers!

Swiss Chalet at Yonge & Gerrard, 47 years strong

I got to enjoy an evening and meal with some real great, nice, and funny people (oh!  And can you believe that I met Maddie of Maddie’s Marvelous Macarons from Le Dolci at the event that night?  Small world!) and I had so much fun.  I’m so happy I got the chance to take part in something so special and memorable and to take away such a fun experience.

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