Toronto’s Pan American Food Festival: A Celebration of Flavour and Rhythms

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Torontonians take their food scene seriously, so much so that they won’t let a dwindling summer season stop them from venturing out for one last hurrah. The inaugural Pan American Food Festival runs from September 20 to 22 at the Harbourfront Centre and arrives just in time to help heat up the city as we head into the fall.

Although the festivities will include eats from 41 countries that make up North, Central, and South America, as well as the Caribbean, it is dominated by Latin fare from countries like Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, Venezula and Peru. One of the major draws will be the two demonstrations by Chef Maricel Presilla who is one of the world’s leading authorities on Latin American cuisine.

The festival will also include live music performances (including Toronto’s thrilling Axe Capoeira who will highlight the traditional Brazilian martial arts-dance hybrid), a vendors market, art exhibition, film program and kid-friendly food demonstrations.

Chef Carlos Fuenmayor of Lakeside Terrace will be featured on Saturday at 6pm demonstrating how to make the Venezuelan favourite, cachapas, corn-based pancakes. Try his recipe below that features a soft, fresh cheese filling and a chiffonade of basil.

Classic Venezuelan Fresh Corn Cake with Fresh Cheese, Olive Oil and Basil
Cachapitas con queso fresco, albaca y aceite de oliva


  • 8 fresh cobs of corn
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal, more if needed
  • 1 tsp salt, more if needed to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 12 oz queso fresco
  • 1/2- bunch basil, cut into a chiffonade Vegetable oil and butter for cooking
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sea salt


  1. Peel the cornhusk and clean well; remove kernels from the corn.
  2. In a food processor roughly purée the corn. Transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Combine the corn, pepper, salt and corn meal, and mix well. If itʼs too wet, add more cornmeal.
  3. In a fry pan or budare on medium heat, add vegetable oil until it lightly coats the bottom of the pan; spoon the mixture into the hot pan to form “pancakes” of your desired size. Cook for 3 minutes on each side.
  4. On the plate: 2 cachapas, 3 or 4 slices of queso and a chiffonade of basil for garnish. Drizzle with olive and sprinkle with sea salt.
    Makes 12 cachapas or 48 mini cachapitas.