The Tomato Turns 25
The Tomato, Edmonton’s longest-standing food publication, celebrates a milestone this month as it reaches twenty-five years in business. Their first issue debuted in September/October 1996.
Founder and editor Mary Bailey remembers those early days, driven by a perspective gained from inside the food scene itself. “When I started, I was from hospitality and in the wine business and knew nothing about publishing magazine,” said Bailey. “I really liked City Palate in Calgary and thought, ‘We need to have one of those in Edmonton.’”
At that time, City Palate was a publication focused on Calgary’s food culture that began in 1993. Bailey arranged to co-publish an Edmonton edition for a few years, paying them a royalty to use the City Palate name. Eventually, realizing that the shared identity wasn’t necessary, Bailey rebranded the magazine as The Tomato in 2010 (City Palate folded in 2019). “Funny thing about it was when we did it, everything – advertising, readership – went up,” said Bailey. “That taught me a big lesson: you have to reinvent yourself every few years because it felt new and fresh.”
That same year, they also started publishing content online, but Bailey acknowledges that much of her readership continues to be driven by their print copies. “I think people look for different things in different places,” said Bailey. “I was under the impression that people under 30 didn’t pick up publications but so many of my readers tell me they like the print edition because they can’t make a recipe and have it on their phone at the same time.”
The cover of the September/October 2021 issue features the images of twelve past covers, and in Bailey’s editorial note, indicates that they “selected cover images of many of the people who make our food scene what it is.” When asked how it is possible that no BIPOC persons were included, Bailey indicated that it was not intentional. “I don’t think we’ve ignored the diverse cultures in terms of food,” said Bailey. “It’s in our pages and not on the covers. We’re going to try really hard to do better.”
As for the future of the magazine, Bailey believes The Tomato will last because she continues to be excited about Edmonton’s food scene. “I’m a chronicler of the food scene,” said Bailey. “I think of my job as finding the people in the business that are doing interesting things. We will continue on talking about food, because food always changes.”
- Alberta reinstated some restrictions on September 4, 2021, including a province-wide indoor mask mandate, as well as curbing liquor service after 10pm. Some restaurant owners, including those at Fleisch, were outraged that several rodeos were granted exemptions for the liquor curfew. Fleisch was unsuccessful at obtaining an exemption of their own even with a vaccination policy in place.
- Prior to the province-wide indoor mask mandate, Edmonton City Council had voted to reinstate the indoor mask mandate in Edmonton. In response, local hospitality businesses were concerned about the conflict that may rise with guests.
- Bar EvoWonderLounge has also instated a proof of vaccination policy for guests.
- Jumbo Dim Sum reopened on September 1, 2021.
- Lux Steakhouse is also re-opening in September.
- Mojo Jojo Pickles has a new home – their storefront Nosh and Quaff is open at 9627 82 Avenue. They had a shop in Kingsway that was open for two weeks before the pandemic shut them down.
- JustCook Kitchens is gearing up to launch their 5th Street Food Hall concept in September. One of the vendors, Seitans, has released their menu in anticipation of the opening.
- Gangnam Street Food and Coco Fried Chicken will be opening a location in Windermere (1109 Windermere Way SW).
- Flame Pizzeria is opening a second location at 989 Tamarack Way.
- The 124 Street Business Association is hosting Flavours of 124 Street on Fridays and Saturdays beginning September 10 and running until September 25, 2021. Participating restaurants will be offering menu specials.
- The Alberta Council for the Ukrainian Arts is hosting a Fall Harvest Market on September 18, 2021 at the Strathearn Centre with a variety of frozen and fresh food vendors.
- The next NOSH Food Fest featuring a variety of food vendors will be held on September 18-19, 2021 at the Strathcona County Community Centre in Sherwood Park.
- Dining in the Dark guests will eat their meals blindfolded for a different experience. Tickets for the October events start at $80.
- Save the date for the annual Pizza Pig Out event in support of KidSport, to be held on October 8, 2021.
- St. Albert’s Breadlove will be hosting The Public’s pop-up store featuring local products from September 28-October 15, 2021.
- Twyla has the story behind Edmonton’s first Cambodian restaurant, Pho or Kuy Teav.
- The Tomato’s Mary Bailey says local restaurants are seeing an increase in reservation no-shows.
- Additions to Edify’s Best Things To Eat List include the pad siew at Syphay and the rack at Vicky’s Bistro.
- Also from Edify, they wrote a love letter to Seoul Fried Chicken and the tenders from Bandits.
- Linda has BBQ recommendations of where to get your meat sweats on.
- The Tomato has a round-up of where to get bagels in the city.
- Edmonton AM profiled Dedo’s Food Truck, who will be operating the concession at Crestwood Curling Club in October.
- U of A students recommend their favourite eats and drinks on and off campus.
- Zaytun Restaurant and Cafe was asked to close due to multiple health infractions.
- Congratulations to Earth’s General Store for marking their 30th anniversary.
What I Ate
- In between errands on Saturday Mack and I grabbed some coffee from Roasti in Sherwood Park and happened upon a Chamber Orchestra of Edmonton concert in a nearby park. It was a nice way to enjoy our drinks outdoors!
Roasti Coffee in the ‘Park
- We also stopped by Bountiful Farmers’ Market for lunch (they have an outdoor eating area set up). It was absolutely bustling – and though it will always pain me that the market is not situated in a residential or retail area (meaning that most shoppers are reliant on personal vehicles for transportation), they are clearly doing something the longer-standing markets are not. The tacos from Frida were great, and definitely makes me want to check out their storefront on 124 Street.
Frida at Bountiful Market