Wrigley Social Presents Balam Toronto

The first time I met Julio & Kate they were still the chefs at El Rey Mezcal Bar. They were doing a BBQ pop-up at Cold Tea Bar and it was my first “official” shoot as part of the Overbudget group. I remember feeling both excited and nervous that day. My role was new which required a lot of learning on-the-go: I had to make my own introductions, tasks and responsibilities. I had no clue what I was I doing but being surrounded with a good team gave me the environment and confidence to figure things out along the way.

Julio & Kate are so down-to-earth—one of the kindest, most genuine and hard-working duos I know in the industry. Observing every interaction, from the moment a customer comes up, to how they prepare each order, to the way they smile when they hand it over, I could tell that they truly love what they do. In the same way photography allows me to tell stories and connect with people, food is their medium and cooking is how they share their passion for Mexico.

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Photos from El Rey’s BBQ pop-up at Cold Tea Bar (2017)

Photos from El Rey’s BBQ pop-up at Cold Tea Bar (2017)

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Two years have passed since that initial meeting. I’ve gotten to know more about Julio & Kate as well as worked with them in various settings. I’ve seen them put hours into testing recipes, catering events, even hosting a salsa-making workshop, and opening a restaurant. They have grown so much as chefs, but mostly importantly, as partners with a mission to share their knowledge of Mexican food and culture in Toronto.

When I found out that Julio & Kate were doing their own thing, I knew I had to show my support. Again, we are brought together at a pop-up but instead of an outdoor BBQ party, I find myself walking into a beautiful loft space. In collaboration with Wrigley Social, they’ve arranged a unique and exclusive dining experience introducing “Balam” to Toronto. The menu showcases their speciality in Canadian-Mexican cuisine, combining Mexican flavours and techniques with fresh, local Canadian ingredients.

I’ve been pulling away from the restaurant industry for a while and seeing Julio & Kate behind the kitchen reminded me that it’s okay to start over. Life is about knowing when to pivot: Sometimes we have to let some things go in order for better things to come into our lives.

It has been a long journey. To Julio & Kate, I can’t be any more happy to see you both and I am excited to see this next stage unfold. Know that you two inspire me to keep my spark alive.

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