The Toronto Garlic Festival is the annual celebration of Ontario’s garlic harvest where Ontario farmers sell garlic and local chefs cook with garlic. Workshops and demonstrations occur all day during the festival by farmers, gardeners, chefs, cicerones, scientists and health experts. The festival promotes Ontario garlic year-round through garlic donations to charitable fundraisers and appearances at food events and fundraisers. Every fall the Toronto Garlic Festival gives away hundreds of garlic bulbs, including many rare and heirloom varieties, to community gardeners.
At the festival visitors learn about the many strains of local garlic. While stocking up on garlic they taste delicious garlic-themed dishes prepared by chefs and paired with Ontario wine and craft beer such as Chocolate Porter & Black Garlic. Many mouth-watering savoury dishes have been featured at the Toronto Garlic Festival, including Fries with Garlic Aioli & Toasted Garlic Chips (Chef Jamie Kennedy), Vegan Smoked Salmon Lox with Lemon Roasted Garlic Hummus & Dill (Vegiterra), Roast Suckling Pig with 50 Garlic Bubs (Chef Ron Raymer), Organic Kale & Garlic Crusted Popcorn Drizzled with Chilli Maple Caramel & Himalayas Pink Salt (The Spice Chef), Karaage Chicken (Gushi Toronto) and many more.
The secret to using garlic in desserts is featured in ingeniously delicious creations made especially for the festival by local pastry chefs and chocolateers. These include Garlic Chocolate Brownies (chef Anne Sorrenti), Garlic Almond Brittle, Donuts in Black Garlic and Caramel Sauce (Globe Bistro), Garlic and Butter Popcorn Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate and Roast Garlic Ice Cream (chocolateer Tim English), and Black Garlic infused Salted Caramel Truffles (Chocolate Artist Laura Slack).
Also available for purchase are black (fermented) garlic, pickled garlic scapes, garlic jelly, garlic dill pickles, garlic soda, garlic braids, garlic bulbils (for planting), garlic pesto, and several types of Ontario-made condiments. Fascinating presentations on garlic history, health benefits and cultural secrets are featured throughout the festival day among other activities such as contests, film screenings and cooking demos.
Admission: $5.00. Free for children under 12. Price includes free free access to talks, presentations, film screening and activities, including The Garlic Breath Contest, The Garlic Shot Station and food cooking demos. Fresh Ontario Garlic, delicious food and craft beer and wine are for sale. The festival is covered extensively in print, radio, TV and social media.
The festival was started in 2011 by garlic grower Peter McClusky. Peter is a director with the Garlic Growers Association of Ontario. His book, Ontario Garlic: The Story from Farm to Festival, (History Press, 2015) is in book stores and is available online.