ReDefiningTO: The Depanneur | Toronto Guardian

The Depanneur model focuses on how to provide quality food at a reasonable price, all while working to engage the local community in a variety of ways.

ReDefiningTO: The Depanneur

by Shauna Trainor | May 9, 2013 | Toronto Guardian (formerly Toronto Is Awesome)

I believe all of us have seen the power of food in bringing people together – creating conversation and fostering community – whether family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, or strangers. The Depanneur is working to implement a potentially disruptive business model to leverage the power of food in bringing together and strengthening the community.

RedefiningTO highlights the people, projects, programs and places making a difference in Toronto and beyond. We hope that sharing these stories will inspire you to join the ranks in redefining Toronto for the better.

At a recent Pecha Kucha, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet one of the brave presenters, Len Senater, who shared the story of his unique west side restaurant The Depanneur, located at 1033 College St. The Depanneur’s mission is to showcase and inspire culinary talent, to promote innovation in the food sector, and to collaborate with food entrepreneurs as well as existing social enterprises all in an effort “to expand the horizons for food in Toronto.”

The Depanneur (Quebecois for convenience store) was named not only in reference to the fact that the space used to be home to a convenience store, but also because Len believed it was fitting given his view of the food industry in Toronto as “en panne”, or rather, broken.

“There is a real formulaic approach to ‘fine’ dining in Toronto – trendy, flashy, hip, pricy, loud, meat-heavy etc… It’s conspicuous, status-forward, and for and by people with money in a way that doesn’t really interest me. There are lots of reasons for this, including high rents and bureaucratic barriers that raise the stakes so high no one wants to take any real risks. You end up with a lot of derivative, trendy, status-quo stuff, rather than more innovative and creative stuff,” he says.