Food is an important part of life at the park, and there's lots of it. The Bake Ovens produce much of the food sold at the park, and they are at the centre of the many parts of the food life around the park. See Food In The Park for more information.
The Masonry Stove Builders' continent-wide bake-oven information link is here.
The two wood ovens are near the basketball courts and the outdoor ice rink, at the northwest corner of the park. They're next to some flower and vegetable gardens that are surrounded by split-rail fences to keep the dogs out. Roses grow over the fence, and beans and squash in season. Sometimes in winter if it's really cold out, skaters come off the ice to stand by the oven nearest the rink, to try and warm themselves. But the ovens are not very warming, because they were designed to channel all their heat into their baking chamber.
Monday Sept.14, all day: oven repair with Jonathan White
The ovens at Dufferin Grove are getting on in years: 20 (big oven) and 15 (smaller oven). The hearth on the smaller oven is very uneven by now. Jonathan White, a baker and cheesemaker near New York City, discovered the Dufferin Grove ovens on the internet, and got in touch. He visited in July and is now coming again to help fix the oven hearth. He may have to get part-way inside. A tricky business! But it will be interesting to watch – everyone welcome.
Saturday October 3: Randy’s shinny hockey supper, by the bake-oven
Randy Heasman started the first older-guys shinny hockey group at Dufferin Rink. He was enthusiastic about kids’ shinny hockey too, and he wrote CELOS an endorsement of our application to the NHL Players’ Association, for donated shinny equipment to augment the CELOS skate loan collection. Sadly, Randy died in May. The NHLPA approved our request a little while before. The skate collection is being renamed “Randy’s Loaner Skates,” and Randy’s contributions to Dufferin Rink will be celebrated at the year’s final outdoor supper at the new “Dan’s Table2” sitting area, on Saturday October 3. Everyone welcome. Guest cooks: Lea Ambros and Yo Utano (former park cook and baker, back again just visiting, from Japan).
Three years ago long-time park friend David Rothberg donated funds to CELOS for a portable tandoor oven, the kind that’s in use in so many middle eastern countries, to make naan bread but also many other tasty dishes. For the first year we loaned the tandoor to the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee, to use at their weekly bazaars, but then they got their own tandoor. Now this tandoor is back with us and available for loan to other park groups. It recently travelled to a celebration at the new Regent Park, to expand the range of cooking available there besides the pizza-making in their new wood-fired oven. Dufferin Grove staffer Amna Malik has become very skilled at using the tandoor and is available to help any other park group that wants to borrow it. Tell you friends across town, if they want to get in touch.
Save the date: on June 20 at 6 pm, a special Saturday night supper for the park ovens, and to remember Dan DeMatteis
This year the park’s bigger community bake-oven turned 20, and the smaller oven turned 15. Both of them have held up well with so much use, but by now they both need some repairs. This provides an occasion to have an extra supper – to raise some repair funds, and to celebrate one of the first cooks who started the suppers, in 2003. This was Dan DeMatteis, who began his cooking career at the park – before going on to work at Jamie Kennedy’s and other Toronto restaurants. Dan died suddenly of an aneurysm in 2012, and is much missed by former Dufferin Grove colleagues as well as by cooks and friends across the city.
Two former park staff who cooked with Dan in the early days of the suppers have agreed to come back and cook this June 20th dinner: Lea Ambros (still a local park friend) and Anna Bekerman (now living in Arizona). Others of Dan’s friends will be there to help with chopping, serving and washing dishes (more volunteers welcome, kids included!). And there’s another reason to celebrate that day: the GH Wood Foundation has given funds to CELOS to build more picnic tables and benches for a comfortable seating area beside the big oven. We were inspired by an arrangement of tables, benches, and planters built by James Davis for a Foodshare roof garden on top of a school in east Toronto. James called the space he created “Dan’s Table” (also after Dan DeMatteis) and he was kind enough to share his blueprints. On June 20, the new sitting area will be ready for use. If it rains, the big market tents will be up to keep the eaters dry and remind the old-timers of the fun they once had eating in the rain during the park’s Cooking Fire Theatre festival.
As usual, the rinkhouse suppers will be a smaller version of the outdoor suppers, and yes, you can eat in skates. From 6 to 7 pm, $7 main plate (vegetarian or vegan only), plus $3 dessert.
The secret, excellent fix of Dufferin Rink
Sometime at the end of November, when the rink had been open for a week, the city’s technical staff found a problem with the motor of one of the two 75 horsepower compressors. Inside of 24 hours, they got a new compressor motor, brought over a telescoping crane and positioned it at the west compressor-room, removed the broken motor (very large and heavy) with the crane, and installed a new motor. There was no interruption in the skating schedule, and in fact very few rink users or program staff even noticed that work was going on, since it was happening at the opposite side of the building. Now that's some skill! Compare with Queensway Rink in Etobicoke, with a damaged compressor motor that wasn’t fixed until just before Christmas, so that the neighbourhood lost three weeks of skating season. How did Dufferin Rink get lucky and Queensway not?
City staff shortages threaten popular Dufferin Grove Park dinners
By: Stephanie Law Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 Source: The Star
If Friends of Dufferin Grove Park have their way, they won’t be having their last supper anytime soon.
Toronto Parks and Recreation staff have been serving up three-course dinners in the park every Friday evening during the warmer months since 2003, when the community group worked with the city to organize the meals.
But last Friday, residents who showed up for the dinner were disappointed to learn it wasn’t being served because there weren’t enough city employees available to run the event. The supper is confirmed for the next two weekends, but its future remains uncertain.