TORONTO — This year’s Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto is creating some buzz with its new Bug Bistro. The Toronto Star reported yesterday that the annual event will feature a new food stand serving menu items made with actual insects — including crickets and mealworms.
Humber College professor and creator of the CNE-hit, Coco’s Fried Chicken, Mark Jackecki, concocted the idea for Bug Bistro back in November, when he casually pitched the idea to seasoned concession owner Sheldon Cohen. Despite the CNE’s long-held reputation as a place for experimenting with new food items, such as deep-fried sticks of butter, Jachecki was skeptical about serving bugs to customers, but Cohen discovered bugs to be a healthy source of protein, fibre, iron and amino acids. They’re also low in calories. “It’s about the wow factor,” Cohen says. “We want legs and thoraxes and wings popping out of things.”
The Bug Bistro menu consists of the Beetlejuice Smoothie, made with buttermilk, roaster mealworm powder and mango pulp, with a sprinkling of cocoa cinnamon ($3.95); Bug Dog, an all-beef hotdog topped with fresh cabbage lime slaw and roasted crickets ($6); and Crispy Critter Rolls, filled with marinated sirloin, cilantro, sweet onion, spicy crema and lime-chili roasted crickets ($5.50). For dessert, Jachecki concocted the Crickety Lime Pie, a traditional dessert tart with a helping of crushed bugs ($5.50). Other menu items are still under wraps, to be revealed on opening-day, tomorrow.
Entomo Farms (formerly known as Next Millennium farms) will be supplying the mealworms and crickets. The company estimates that, over the course of the 18-day carnival, guests will eat approximately 575,000 critters.