Day Eighteen: Sunday November 18th, Healthy Graffiti and Sushi Making Class

I run every morning with my dear friend and superstar editor, Susan Walker. It’s a long and langourous kind of run along Dundas Street, through Trinity Bellwoods, Queen Street, then up to Kensington Market, where I live. These runs allow me the beautiful illusion of health during a stressful time. It also allows me to enjoy some extraordinary graffiti on the city’s walls. In fact, in the laneway where I live, you can see work by KWEST, one of my favourite artists. I love graffiti because of the unrestricted and uncompromising expression of street culture. Every once in awhile when a genuine artist comes around, there is meaning and beauty to be gleaned from the work. A work by the great Banksy, for instance, can be intoxicating. I also love it that in spite of Mayor Ford’s recent promise to “clean up” the streets of Toronto, good graffiti culture is alive and well.

What I don’t like are those whose only form of expression is to tag their signatures on random walls and run off like they had just robbed an elderly couple on their way home from dinner. They remind me of the trenchcoat-donning flashers- their act as gratuitous as it is pathologically pubescent. I knew this was going to be a problem until we opened. Most self-respecting graffiti artists will leave walls alone once a business has got going, but there will always be the occasional flasher. I just wish that the likes of a KWEST or ELICSER would adorn my restaurant walls with their work so that others would just leave it alone.  I went to Benjamin Moore to match the paint and knew that the brushes would have to remain dry until the eleventh hour.

It was a day off for the general contractor and his team, so Shin and I went into the kitchen to prep for a sushi-making class I had committed to teaching months ago. With none of our kitchen supplies in yet, it was about improvising. It was a Meetup group, one of the more interesting networks in the city, and the class was held in the conference room of the organizer’s apartment building. It was an opportunity to prove my unworthiness before one of the top sushi chefs in the country (Shin), as well as share news of the restaurant with people who loved to gather and socialize around food. They were a great bunch, with enough skills and laughs to match a schoolbus full of sushi chefs on magic mushrooms.They were also excited by the prospect of having a piece of drywall (inscribed with: “13 Days To Go”) with their signatures on it permanently installed in the walls of the restaurant. One participant won a dinner for two at the restaurant for answering my, um, exhaustive skill-testing sushi questions. Moving forward, I will be conducting all my sushi-making and kimchi-making classes from the restaruant, every weekend afternoon from December straight through to March, which is when we will launch the brunch menu. What do sushi classes have to do with yakitori and bulgogi burgers? Who really cares when you are having this much fun…

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