In case you missed it, Food Dudes — the Toronto catering company and food brand behind Rasa, Omaw and Pantry — is doing pretty damn great. Co-founders Adrian Niman and Brent McClenahan set their standard for local ingredients and culinary experiences in Toronto early, back in 2007, and have since solidified their identity as a food brand that really, genuinely cares about environmental sustainability and doing social good.
This year, for social good, Food Dudes is presenting Block Party IV, a ridiculous party that rolls into Toronto each year to benefit Red Door Family Shelter. For guests, Block Party is a bona fide old school-style block party with food, music, friends and so, so much fun.
Keep scrolling for more from Brent McClenahan, co-founder and creative director at Food Dudes:
The passion behind Block Party IV is amazing. Tell us about your collaboration with Red Door Family Shelter and why this is such an important event for you?
Block party started as an event for our family and friends to connect and share in positive energy with one another through food art and music. As the years went by we wanted to connect people on a higher level, bring our network to a place of community, kindness and understanding. We believe that Red Door Shelter is the right fit for us. They are our neighbours in the east end of Toronto and it only makes sense that we connected on this event.
Where did the inspiration come to form Food Dudes?
The inspiration came from a demand in the market to reinvent the catering industry in Toronto with youthful spirit, food from scratch and a higher level of connectivity
What defines your brand?
Our brand is defined by our culture. At Food Dudes, we are inspired by creativity and a collective mindset. We love to challenge one another to be better at our jobs and in our personal lives. Life is a journey and we embrace that ideology as a team. There is no person that has ever been self made, we all lean on one another to get through our days, food dudes is a family.
How would you describe your process for deepening client relationships?
By creating an ecosystem between the clients desires and budgets and our service, brand and product.
Who are your culinary icons?
My culinary icon is Adrian, my partner and executive chef at Food Dudes. We lived together for 5 years while growing our business and I learned virtually everything I know about cooking from him. During the times we weren’t working events for other people, we did a lot of cooking at home together. He has been a huge inspiration to my life in many, many ways.
What does success look like for you?
Success to us is freedom; freedom to explore ideas and be innovative. Money is not a driving force for us as much as it is a catalyst for creation. We love new projects, I think thats what keeps us constantly moving, aligning inspired individuals and creating spaces and products that people can relate to and feel proud of. Our greater purpose is community and family for sure, that is success to us, when everyone around us is eating well and happy.
What is your favourite childhood memory around food?
I grew up in rural Ottawa with a lot gardens and nature. I have vivid memories of walking through them and munching on everything I could. I loved weeding and cleaning the gardens, it was therapeutic, food is still therapeutic for me. I recently started cooking for friends on Sunday evenings, making the day about it, sourcing the ingredients from the market and coming home with everything and freestyling with everyone. The idea that there is no plan but it just seems to come together is what I love about it.