After interviewing Eric Ng, the mastermind behind the World Premiere of the Veggie Donair for a Vue article, I was more curious than ever about the event. I bought an advance ticket at Listen Records, and headed for the Hydeaway (10209 100 Ave) on Wednesday evening.
While I’m not sure what the most appropriate venue for a world premiere of a vegetarian food item would be, the very casual, pub-like space of the Hydeaway suited Eric’s “do it yourself” mentality, I thought. Shortly after 7pm (the event’s start time as listed on the tickets), employees were still shifting around furniture and setting up the stage, as attendees began trickling in.
Around 7:30pm, Leif Oleson-Cormack (an old friend of mine from high school), did his best to entertain the hungry crowd, as Eric headed to the kitchen to begin assembling the donairs. Leif’s set was about 20 minutes in length, after which we got up from the table to wait in a line that snaked halfway around the space.
By this point, I realized I should have had something to eat prior to the event, as the wait was painful. For a food-focused event, an hour and a half to get to the “meat”, so to speak, was unacceptable. At the same time, I had to feel for Eric and the rest of his helpers – a peek inside the kitchen saw four busy hands, and the one waitress had trouble delivering orders to a shifting crowd of patrons. A number system would have helped, but it seemed organization wasn’t the evening’s strong point.
As for the donair itself – while I am not the best judge of donairs (I can’t remember the last time I had one), I liked the crispy, toasted pita shell, and the combination of the tomatoes, onions, sauce, and meat replacement. The consensus at our table, however, was that we wished that the gluten/tofu slab had been sliced a little thinner – it was a tad too thick served as it was (and with a chewy texture very similar to some of the vegan dishes I had at Padmanadi). I did attempt to take a few photos, but as our table and the surrounding area had no overhead lights, the pictures turned out much too blurry to post, unfortunately.
Eric said the turnout of just over 60 was perfect, as he ended up running out of supplies. Overall, it was a fun night and an interesting experience – I hope more food item world premieres are in Edmonton’s future!