The Depanneur was one of the coolest culinary gems in Toronto. What was once a tiny corner store on College Street transformed into a lively space where community and food come together, sometimes known as “A Place Where Interesting Food Things Happen”.

Since it was founded over a decade ago by Len Senater, hundreds of chefs cooked thousands of eclectic meals at the restaurant, before it closed its doors in 2021. The Depanneur was known for its range of culinary and community events, including family-style Supper Clubs, hands-on Cooking Classes and insightful Table Talks.

Now, the poignant story of The Depanneur is finally in print. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign launched in 2020 (which became one of the most successful in Canadian history), The Depanneur Cookbook was finally published last week. 

With behind-the-scenes stories from Senater, mouth-watering recipes from 100 cooks celebrating the cuisines of 80 countries, and beautiful photography from Ksenija Hotic, the cookbook is a delicious tribute to Toronto’s culinary scene.  

An essential chapter in The Depanneur story is the Newcomer Kitchen, an initiative launched by Senater in 2016 that invited Syrian refugees into The Depanneur, offering ingredients, space, and equipment to women who had been unable to cook their own food for years. The program sold thousands of meals and put tens of thousands of dollars directly into the pockets of Syrian women. It caught the attention of press from around the world, and even Justin Trudeau stopped by for a visit. 

“By simply creating a space where they could do what they were already good at, the kitchen gave them a place to shine,” Senater writes.

Nadima, one of the Newcomer Kitchen cooks, writes: “In the kitchen we were like a family sharing tears, tragedies, joyful moments together, talking about our nostalgia for our homeland and families. We were singing along together while we were doing the dishes, cooking and sharing recipes with the Canadians who supported us with love and welcomed us with kindness.”

The Depanneur was a one-of-a-kind Toronto establishment that has changed the lives of many who have cooked, eaten, and gathered there. This cookbook is a unique window into a slice of Toronto’s passionate, creative, and diverse culinary community.

Here are just some of the incredibly talented cooks you can hear more from in The Depanneur Cookbook:

Photo by Jax Ruggiero: @simply.jax

Mikiki is an artist, queer community health activist and drag queen, known for breaking the rules in the kitchen. They hosted several Valentine’s Day Supper Clubs at The Depanneur, curating fearless, funny and provocative evenings that challenged the limits of food, art, and social convention. In the cookbook, their recipe for Salade DysPérigourdine is a rich and comforting twist on the classic French Périgord Salad. 

Sisters-in-law Seema and Amreen Omar first started cooking together as a way of coping with the grief of losing Seema’s husband. From weekly stalls at local farmer’s markets to pop-ups at The Depanneur to eventually opening their restaurant, Bombay Street Food, their love of food and for each other has gotten them far. Check out their recipe for Bhaiya Channa Chaat, an Indian street snack with a lively mix of salty, sour, sweet, and spicy flavours. 

Holistic nutritionist Nicole Di Nardo has taught some of The Depanneur’s most popular pasta-making classes. In The Depanneur Cookbook, she shares her recipe for gluten-free chickpea ravioli, one of many gut-healthy alternatives she created after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

Check out these recipes and so many more in The Depanneur Cookbook, available for purchase now.