Wind Up Bird Takes Flight

There’s a new food hub open on College Street. A�I call it a food hub, because Wind Up Bird is shaping up to be much more than a restaurant.

Named afterA�the novel published in 1994�1995 by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, Wind Up Bird is a love song dedicated to local, seasonal, sustainable, organic food. A�The spot will hostA�a whopping 18 different programs aimed at foodA�literacy, literary/culinary artsA�and social activism, as well as aA�vibrant range of programmingA�with a focus on children�sA�activities.

We were at the launch of the first of many of these programs called: Kid-chen Confidential. A� The youth-oriented program isA�the brainchildA�of food literacy advocate and programA�co-creator Sang Kim. ItA�features cooks under the age of 18 teachingA�other children how to make healthy food. For the inaugural session, Toronto�s own ProteenA�Queen, Leah Honiball–a fifteen year old who could give any of us a run for our money in the kitchen — had the chance to teach Chef Yumiko�s daughterA�Kiki how to prepare Ganmodoki (fried tofu burgers).


Kiki and Leah cooking up a storm at Wind Up Bird

On that note, Chef Yumiko Kobayashi is the woman behind the food at Wind Up Bird. She wants to do more than just feed people — though she’s doing a fine job at it! — she wants to nourish people’s bodies and fill their hunger for food-based community activism.

On the menu you’ll find inspired vegan, gluten-free dishes featured quite comfortably next to omnivore friendly fair. A�There signature dish? Well, Chef Yumiko changes the menu with the seasons, but right now it’s all about her Avocado Tofu Gratin (recipe below!)

There’s also a kitchen garden in works this summer. A�I have a sneaking suspicion, this is going to be the place to be for food lovers in 2014!

To find out more about Wind Up Bird and what they’ve got in store for you this year, visit:


  1. 567-g packageA�silken tofu, drained
  2. 3 tbsp (45 mL)A�tahini (sesame paste)
  3. 1 tbsp (15 mL)A�koji or aka miso
  4. 1 tsp (5 mL)A�mushroom soup stock granules (sometimes labelled mushroom seasoning or granulated mushroom bouillon)
  5. 1/2 tsp (2 mL)A�tamari or soy sauce
  6. Fine seasalt + ground white pepper
  7. 1A�firm-ripe avocado, cut in 16 pieces
  1. Asian hot chili sesame oil
  2. Fried onion
  3. Finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  1. Set aside 1/4 tofu block to drain. Wrap in paper towels and place in sealed container. To get firmer texture, refrigerate at least 2 hours to overnight.
  2. Drain; cut into 6 pieces.
  3. In medium bowl using immersion or hand blender, combine remaining tofu, tahini, miso, mushroom seasoning and tamari or soy sauce. Blend until
  4. smooth. Taste; season with salt, if desired, and pepper.
  5. Place 6 tofu pieces and avocado in shallow,ovenproof dish. Cover with tofu purA�e. Stir gently.
  6. Bake uncovered in preheated 350F (180C) oven 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top and warmed throughout.
  7. Serve drizzled with chili oil and sprinkled with onion and parsley or cilantro.
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