The MTCC’s food and beverage program is a masterclass in sustainability thanks to local sourcing, on-site culinary, community partnerships and more.
As downtown Toronto’s premiere conference and trade show venue, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) is committed to sustainable actions through a food and beverage program that supports local businesses and showcases the best that the province of Ontario has to offer. David Procopio, Director, Food and Beverage Services, describes how sourcing regionally, making everything on-site and managing food waste helps to reduce the venue’s environmental impact.
“For us, it's all about ensuring that our impact is as minimal as possible, there’s as little waste as possible and being flexible about securing locally harvested foods.”
– David Procopio, Director, Food and Beverage Services
1. A Culinary Team that Makes Everything In-House
The convention centre’s restaurant-style food and beverage (F&B) experience includes the culinary team making everything in-house, from charcuterie meats and smoked salmon to delectable pastries.
MTCC recently imported a pasta-making machine from Italy, and the culinary team ages all of its beef on-site with capacity to serve 3,500 guests.
This commitment helps to reduce and streamline the carbon impact of food deliveries. “For us, it's all about ensuring that our impact is as minimal as possible, there’s as little waste as possible and being flexible about securing locally harvested foods,” Procopio explains.
2. On-Site Rooftop Garden and Beehives
MTCC also maintains a small rooftop chef’s garden that allows the culinary team to grow a variety of herbs, tomatoes and hot peppers. Also on the roof are two beehives housing a total of 100,000 bees, that help pollinate the plants and produce honey for use in desserts and sauces. The byproducts of harvesting, such as wax, is used to make candles, soaps and lip balms.
3. 100% Ontario Wine and Craft Beer Service
Earlier this year, MTCC committed to 100% Ontario wine and craft beers as part of its F&B program, which serves about 38,000 bottles of wine and about 94,000 bottles of beer annually.
Most of the wines served at MTCC come from the Niagara Region, Lake Erie-Pelee Island and Prince Edward County. All of the craft beers come from the Greater Toronto Area and include Steam Whistle Brewery, which is located right across the street from MTCC. “That’s about as local as you can get,” Procopio says.
4. Locally Sourced Ingredients
On the food side, about 65% of the culinary ingredients used at MTCC are sourced from local farms and suppliers. “It’s important to support family-run farms, but we must balance our desire to source as locally as possible with supply chain challenges,” Procopio explains. “We’re always looking for opportunities to tailor our menus to be seasonal. For example, we recently secured about 4,000 pounds of heirloom beets from Cookstown Greens to carry us through the fall and winter months.”
5. Food Waste Reduction through Community Partnerships
MTCC helps those in need and reduces waste by donating food to local organizations, such as Daily Bread Food Bank, Second Harvest, the Toronto District School Board’s Student Nutrition Program and Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services.
Procopio explains that his team stays in touch with these organizations to ensure they have the capacity to accept, store and distribute the food that is donated. “Many venues typically do that post-event, but our sustainability planning is done long before an event starts,” says Procopio.
Since 2014, MTCC has diverted 90% of its waste away from landfills. MTCC works well in advance of an event, with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, to ensure they will accept leftover construction material and other reusable items.