by Aruna Antonella Handa | February 20, 2013 | Alimentary Initiatives
I absolutely love the Depanneur. I think Len Senater is a local food hero. He has truly revolutionized the notion of a corner store by returning the concept to what it once was.
When Len and I lived in Montreal (we didn’t know one another well, but our circles happily overlapped), the “depanneur” or the “dep” was the corner store where you went to get locally bottled cheap imported wine, cigarettes, a box of (usually) stale crackers and not much else. When Len took over the lease at his joint on Havelock and College, the place was a veritable dump. I could not believe it. But Len’s face was all shiny and new and full of optimism. I, on the other hand, could barely breathe in there. Len and his pal renovated the place physically, but while he was chipping away at the paint on the walls, Len was also chipping away at the traditional notions of a corner store. Instead of poisons like industrial candy and tobacco, Len was going to sell sour dough breads and organic vegetables. Instead of trashy magazines and porn, Len was offering serious food journals. And instead of a sorry patty reheated to within an inch of its life, Len served frittatas and wicked grilled cheese. In short he renovated the corner store, in form and in content. The Dep also features cookery classes and makes for an amazing venue for a private party.
Len is currently looking for someone to manage the corner store part of his operation as he has his hands full with running the Dep’s two kitchens, his remarkably successful and rather uniquely public supper club, the Rusholme Park, as well as his runaway success Drop-in Dinners. So, when Len asks for help? We all chip in. Alimentary’s Toronto Office Markets wouldn’t have been half as successful were it not for the brilliant support Len has quietly offered food start-ups with his kitchens by renting them commercial kitchen space. I call this small businesses weaving into one another to build resilience, to make it harder for strong winds to blow us away…
This Thursday’s Valentine’s Day Supper Club, Secret Heart, is by far the most extravagant, outrageous and perverse culinary activity I’ve ever undertaken. I have been fantasizing about this meal for weeks, obsessively researching exotic ingredients and obscure recipes. Some of the highlights include: Read more
by Darcy Higgins | 08/15/2012 | pushfoodforward.com
For a food-related business or entrepreneur whose recent work has led to the development of a delicious venture contributing significantly to increase good food, food justice, and/or good food job expansion in one or more of Toronto neighbourhoods.
Len remains the ultimate collaborator and is committed to fostering a strong, local food community. On Friday nights, Len opens his kitchen to Toronto cooks who serve their own delectable creations to an excited and dedicated Depanneur clientele of all ages.
Len Senater followed his heart and translated his passion for food into the recent establishment of The Depanneur, a self-described place “where interesting food things happen.”
Located between Dovercourt and Dufferin on College Street, Len and his restaurant have played host to an endless variety of community food events such as the Rusholme Park Supper Club and casual, drop-in Tuesday dinners where you get whatever Len decides to cook.
NOVEMBER 30, 2011 | BY ALLIE HUNWICKS | spacingtoronto.ca
“This is intended to be a much more participatory environment. By coming here you are more actively engaged in what’s going on with food than to go to a restaurant with a kitchen in the back and with people you never see and food that comes from somewhere that nobody ever knows about,”
The Depanneur was started by Len Senater, a former design firm partner who had never worked in the restaurant business before. Initially put off by the resto business model, Senater created The Dep and it’s sister company, The Rusholme Park Supper Club to reflect what he loved most about the communion of food. The Supper Club is a truly unique experience, wherein anyone (professional chef or otherwise) can take over The Dep’s kitchen and host a dinner party.
I first became acquainted with The Depanneur (or ‘The Dep’ as it has become to be known) this past winter when my husband and I signed up to become a member of The Rusholme Park Supper Club (Family Style dinner parties hosted by a rotating cast of chefs) and joined them for an evening with…
REA MCNAMARA | WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13, 2012 | yongestreetmedia.ca
The model positions local chefs in the middle of an open-source social enterprise that balances for-profit activities with a mission to support good-food movement-minded entrepreneurs.
If you’re just looking at its former hole-in-the-wall bones, then yes, The Depanneur seems like any other cosy corner café of reclaimed architectural pedigree. Exposed brick, vintage hardware, antique windows and menu chalkboards are indeed the norm décor accents for now-fashionable Brockton Village storefronts. The painted cue card signage for homemade jams, organic local produce in wooden crates and ideal coffee grinds is Honest Ed’s-esque, while the tables that line its sunny windows are clearly repurposed chewing gum display racks. It’s all very much in keeping with the café’s franglais Québécois homage to Montreal’s ubiquitous convenience stores, and the building’s previous various retail iterations.
The Dep is so much more than just a cafe, grocery stop, and sometimes restaurant. It’s also an inspiration and reminder to gather with loved ones, congregate with kindred spirited strangers, and let someone else do the cooking at least once in a while…
by Ryan Bigge | October 3rd, 2012 | brokenpencil.com
“Indie food can be expensive and exclusionary. And it often lacks the community infrastructure that is so crucial to subcultures. Senater is working hard to change that. The Depanneur is unafraid to be ridiculous and ambitious and affordable and accessible. Past food events include Porknography (a nine-course meal, with each recipe featuring pig), a drop-in Ital dinner (Rastafarian-informed vegan cuisine that avoids the use of salt), and a black and white meal with a black and white dress code. For Senater, the goal is to enable creativity, spontaneity and originality while removing any element of elitism or luxury or decadence. (As he jokes, “This may be detrimental to our long- term success. Sometimes I get the feeling that if I charged three times as much I’d be way busier.”) Seating about 20 people, Senater wants to foster the atmosphere of an intimate social supper club, rather than a restaurant.”