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The Second Annual Toronto Garlic Festival

6 Questions with Festival CEO Peter McClusky

Peter McClusky, a former VP, International Distribution for a New York-based digital media company, was tending his garlic when the idea that Toronto needed a garlic festival occurred to him. In 2010 he worked as a farm intern at Whole Circle Farm, near Guelph, Ontario, where he learned all about organic and biodynamic farming methods and market gardening. He developed a passion for garlic, after tasting some locally grown product, and then started growing his own. By 2011, with the help of friends, he’d planted 25,000 cloves from forty-five strains of garlic.

Last year 5,000 garlic lovers attended his first annual Toronto Garlic Festival. This year the event has been expanded to two days, October 13 and 14, to meet the overwhelming demand. The event, a harvest time extravaganza held at the Evergreen Brick Works, helps to fill the culinary void left by Slow Food’s sadly-defunct Picnic. We caught up with McClusky  to ask a few garlicky questions:


1. What’s new at this year's festival?

We've got a mix of serious stuff, and seriously fun stuff. The serious stuff includes talks on, "Chemistry in a Salad Bowl," "Why Dracula Hates Garlic", and  "Garlic and Racism." We also have an interesting presentation from the Ontario Science Centre. The fun stuff includes the Garlic Breath Contest and a demo for kids on making pizza frita, which is a Neapolitan recipe for a stove top pizza. Food lovers will appreciate the Condiment Fundraiser, which features several delicious Ontario-made condiments for sampling and sale, and is run by the not-for-profit, Seed to Table.


2. What’s the strangest garlic dish at the festival?

Garlic ice cream has now become popular and not so strange. There are gimmicky garlic recipes out there, but we're more interested in unusual food combinations that actually taste good, and aren't just a gimmick. We're planning to have a coffee espuma at the festival, which is coffee with chocolate, garlic and cardamom.


3. Raw or roasted?

Raw, if I had to choose. Plus, raw garlic contains more medicinal properties than garlic subjected to heat.


4. Is there such a thing as too much garlic?

No…as Morley Safer (of 60 minutes) said, "With enough garlic you could eat the New York Times."


5. Is there any garlic dish you won't eat?

Yes, any dish that uses cheap imported garlic. The reason I started growing Ontario garlic is its vastly superior taste. Since garlic is an ingredient in almost every dish, any serious cook can't help but use Ontario grown garlic.


What’s your breath freshener of choice? No need, as long as your partner eats garlic. But seriously, I eat a lot of fresh greens and drink a lot of water, which act as a natural breath freshener, and yes, I brush my teeth at least twice a day.



Jamie Bussin is the Publisher of Tonic magazine. He prefers roasted garlic and has been testing various breath mints for weeks in anticipation of the festival. To get your tickets and find out more about the event go to torontogarlicfestival.ca