Saturday, February 4, 2012

Push 2012 Review #14: Eat the Streets Awards Ceremony at the Roundhouse

Although I didn't get the chance to dine out alongside them at participating Vancouver restaurants these past two weeks, I did make time this afternoon to watch the children from Bridgeview Elementary hand out their "best of" awards at the Roundhouse in an event presided over by Mammalian Diving Reflex impresario Darren O'Donnell. Eat the Streets is the third PuSh Festival piece that O'Donnell's Toronto-based MDR has done with Bridgeview students (or the "Jury from Surrey" as he dubbed them today), after 2009's Children's Choice Awards (in which students rated different PuSh shows that year) and 2008's Haircuts by Children (in which yours truly handed over his locks to apprentice stylists from the school--see photo below). This time round, a posse of 25 students or so were divided into three groups and ferried to different restaurants in Gastown and environs, including Nuba at The Waldorf, Nicli Antica Pizzeria, Chill Winston, Calabash Bistro, Chambar, Subeez, Irish Heather GastroPub, and The Old Spaghetti Factory.

Encouraged to be adventurous in their ordering (including experiments with venison carpaccio and duck foie gras at Chambar and spicy jerk chicken and curry at Calabash), the budding foodies were also given license to inspect and comment on everything from the cleanliness of the washrooms and chefs' uniforms to the comfiness of the furniture, ambience, and overall decor. Asked to write up their thoughts for the blog accompanying the project (see eatdastreet.blogspot.com, which also includes ample visual and other documentation provided by O'Donnell), the students also came up with the final award categories and composed their respective jury citations for the various winners. Most of the participating students, plus a few alumni from Children's Choice and Haircuts, took a turn presenting an award this afternoon, and I have to say they were all very discriminating critics--not to mention, in several cases, born performers. Conscripted to represent Nicli Antica, whose representatives were unable to attend the ceremony, I am pleased to say that I picked up three awards on their behalf: Best Ice Cream; Best Smelling Washroom; and, finally, Scariest Washroom, the kids apparently having been spooked by how loud the self-flushing toilets are.

It was a huge amount of fun, and a delight to see how O'Donnell and assistant Donna coaxed even the shiest of students out of their shells. Best of all, it was announced that MDR is launching a Western Mammalian offshoot and plans to continue its hugely successful and creative partnership with the students and staff of Bridgeview, whose principal was also on hand to attest to how rewarding that partnership has so far been.

I can't wait to see what O'Donnell and the students cook up next. In the meantime, it's off to Club PuSh tonight, for Taylor Mac's Comparison is Violence show, and of course the not-to-be-missed PuSh Wrap Party.

Me getting my haircut by a Bridgeview student at the 2008 PuSh Festival

P.



1 comment:

Darren O'Donnell said...

We want you to be a West Coast Mammal too. I'll find you and send you the deets and some other stuff. Thanks for covering for Nicli's