If you’re entertaining this summer, whether for an intimate soirée or feeding a crowd, here’s an easy menu you can double – triple – to suit your party.

And, when it comes to a crowd, the best tips come from chefs who also happen to create catering menus, which, in our minds, is about as crowded as it can get.

We asked Toben Kochman, the chef behind Toben Food by Design, and his sister, Elana, to help us satiate our crowd’s appetite. Toben is an alumnus of Cordon Bleu School of Culinary Arts in Paris, so he knows food. But here’s the twist. We want it light, and we want it healthy. Toben prefers locally sourced ingredients that he can mix into vitamin-rich salads and family-style dishes.

“Food is what I know. Summer is our busiest time of the year, allowing us to express our creativity with so many fresh ingredients, by capitalizing on summer’s harvest,” he says.

And share, they do. One of the most raved about dishes of the season is grilled whole sicilian branzino (recipe below) with shaved fennel, lemon, orange and grapefruit, says the chef. He also suggests you complete the meal by pairing it with refreshing watermelon and tomato salad with fresh mint, charred corn and feta, then drizzled with a basil vinaigrette.

Toben Food by Design has also launched its food truck, so if you spot them on the streets of Toronto, be sure to tell them Zoomer sent you!

Summer Menu



Recipe: Watermelon-Tomato Salad

Makes 4 portions


  • 2 ¼ cup of watermelon, 1 inch diced
  • ¾ cup of heirloom red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tbsp of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup of red onion, julienne long (cut very thin)
  • 6 gm of pickled red finger chili or jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml basil-cider vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • ½ cup of feta cheese – crumbled
  • ¾ cup of grilled corn kernels
  • 1 cup of black beans, cooked


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently mix to combine.
  2. Transfer to serving platter or plates and serve immediately.


Recipe: Basil Cider Vinaigrette

Makes 250 ML


  • ½ cup of fresh basil
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tbsp of Dijon mustard
  • ½ tbsp. of liquid honey
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1/8 tsp of ground black pepper


  1. In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, smashed garlic clove, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, honey and puree until smooth.
  2. Turn off the food processor and scrape down the sides.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil until vinaigrette is fully emulsified.

Recipe: Grilled Whole Sicillian Branzino

Makes 4 main course servings


  • 4 whole Branzino fish (sometimes referred to as European Sea Bass), scales and innards removed
  • 4 cups fennel, shaved on a mandolin
  • ½ cup fennel fronds, rough chopped
  • 1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 whole lemons, sliced into ½ cm thick rounds
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3 whole oranges, peeled and sliced into segments
  • 3 whole grapefruit, peeled and sliced into segments



  • In a small mixing bowl combine the lemon juice, half of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, mix with a fork and set aside.
  • Preheat a clean grill to medium-high. Combine the remainder of the olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper and rub generously all over the interior and exterior of the cleaned fish.
  • Assemble the sliced lemon rounds on the interior of the fish.
  • Gently lay the seasoned fish on the preheated grill and cook for 5-7 minutes per side with the lid closed if using a BBQ. Gently flip the fish over and continue to cook on the other side.
  • While the fish is cooking combine the shaved fennel, orange segments, grapefruit segments, lemon juice and olive oil mixture from step 1 and gently toss to combine.
  • To serve, carefully remove the whole fish from the grill and transfer to a platter and assemble the shaved fennel and citrus segment salad alongside. Garnish with a sprinkling of the rough chopped fennel fronds and serve immediately.