This year's CNE brings a new menu of food items that pack an impressive caloric punch, as well as some health policy changes after last year's food-related illnesses.
One fun addition to the food building this year is a booth featuring Toronto institution Fran's, a 75-year-old restaurant open 365 days a year.
"Two long-standing traditions. We jumped at the opportunity. It's about time we got together," said Fran's chef Zaki Choudhary. "We're the second oldest restaurant in Toronto and it's a great match up. We want to take our traditional Fran's items, the things people come to Fran's for, and put twists on them."
Fran’s is famous for its Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey dinners.
"We'll have versions of our big breakfast and our Thanksgiving dinner," Choudhary said. "We're being extra vigilant, taking every precaution. Everybody is certified and trained."
Last year, after more than 200 people got sick at the CNE, Toronto Public Health found jam used for the infamous cronut (croissant and donut) burger was contaminated. As a result, the CNE has changed some health policies.
"Clearly there was a lapse. We had to go back and look at our procedures more carefully," said CNE general manager David Bednar. "The changes in the protocol had to do with off-site preparation, the storage and the transportation."
In 2013, the Ex featured more than 1,000 licenced food vendors. Anticipating the same number this year, Toronto Public Health is reviewing the list of foods for each one.
"We are getting more information this time than we did last time. I'm hearing from my staff that there is nothing on that list that should raise an eyebrow," said Sylvanus Thompson, a Toronto public health associate director.
The city will also have 20 inspectors on site, and they are scheduled to visit each booth at least twice.
The CNE runs Aug. 15 to Sept. 1 at Exhibition Place. The full range of menu items will be unveiled Wednesday.
"We have one thing that is a little bit strange," said Choudhary. "Spicy peanut butter Sriracha bites." The offbeat concoction is deep-fried sriracha hot sauce, peanut butter and chocolate chips. Fran's has given them their own hashtag, #EatEmIfYouDare.
Chef Andrew Motta from Bacon Nation, whose bacon-wrapped Mars Bar was a hit in 2012, will be serving up bacon-wrapped chicken marinated in Coca-Cola.
"When you get the sandwich, it will be a two-hander -- bacon-wrapped, full of Coke," Motta said of the creation that will run Ex adventurers $10 in the food building.
"It's once a year. It's the ultimate cheat day. We want to give people something they haven't had before, and that hasn't been done around here before."
Other far-out foods will include pie-flavoured milkshakes and a corn on the cob-bacon creation, says Bednar.
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