Skip to main content

Food Starter celebrates grand opening

Grand opening of Toronto-based food business commercialization centre included a “Flavour Safari” and a visit from Toronto Mayor John Tory
Cricket bolognese, one of the innovative products on display

Food Starter, a non-profit food business commercialization centre, celebrated its official grand opening on Oct. 12 at the centre’s 20,000-sq.-ft. shared-use production space in Toronto. The big event included a “Flavour Safari,” a slew of new partnership announcements and a speech by Toronto Mayor John Tory.

The celebration was sponsored by the City of Toronto and SIAL Canada, the international food and beverage trade show.

Attendees of the event began the day by donning hairnets and white coats to tour the production facility as part of the “Flavour Safari.” Food Starter clients — the independent food producers who gain business training from Food Starter and use the centre to create their products —  spoke enthusiastically about their own products and about Food Starter while offering tasty samples to the guests on hand.

“I started here last year with an hourly kitchen, so I would bring everything in the morning, do my full production, then take everything away,” explained Eric Machtinger, owner of Eat These Foods, which produces a pickle brand called Eat These Pickles. “Then, in order to scale up and to make more product, I got my own unit here: so now I’ve got my inventory, my storage, all my equipment to produce everything — it’s all there. So that gives me access 24 hours a day to this whole facility, which includes a food-safe environment, a wash-down room, cooler space, everything that I need to produce my products.”

The centre has also given him a lot of great opportunities to share ideas with other Food Starter clients. “We talk about packaging, production, all kinds of different things,” he said. “It’s a great information base to use to grow.”

Angela Kelly, founder of Jump Bars, which are energy bars made from flour with crickets, also had positive things to say about her experience with the centre. “Food starter has been a great resource because it allows me to come in and make my product in a certified commercial kitchen space, and without that I wouldn’t be able to get out to actually sell to retail,” she said. 

Food Starter has actually been up and running since November 2015, but it never had a grand opening, so organizers took this opportunity to celebrate the opening while also announcing a number of new partnerships. The industry partnerships announced include collaborations with Ozery Bakery, Woodbine Entertainment, Cater Toronto, North York Harvest Food Bank, Bishop Integrated Marketing, Royal Bank of Canada and Canadian accounting firm MNP.

“Since our inception in November 2015, we have helped more than 150 companies through specialized programming designed to increase their chances of success in a very competitive market,” said Dana McCauley, executive director of Food Starter. “Partnerships are essential and will help accelerate innovation in Canada’s food sector, ultimately advancing Food Starter’s mission.”

Several speakers were on hand to sing the praises of Food Starter, but the big guest of honour was Toronto Mayor John Tory. Food Starter is partially funded by the City of Toronto, and in his speech, Tory also emphasized the importance of partnerships.

“Partnerships between government and the private sector, between and among businesses, between the big businesses who stepped up to sponsor this and the smaller businesses who are being incubated and accelerated here — the word partnership is going to be the key to Toronto’s success,” he said, noting that Toronto seems to be enjoying a moment of success on the world stage right now. “We’re doing a lot of things right. This is part of it. Because it gives people a chance to fulfill their dreams...that’s what it’s all about. And this, Food Starter, is a great example of that.”




This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds