This Cruise Ship’s Kitchens Never Sleep, So For 24 Hours, Neither Did I

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It was October and already cold in New York when I boarded the megaship to the Bahamas, where I’d heard the water was bluer than Bradley Cooper’s eyes. But I wasn’t going for the Caribbean coastlines, nor the gambling, the water park, the ropes course, Broadway shows, or any of the other amenities on the Norwegian Escape, one of the largest cruise ships in the world. I was there for the food. With my photographer Laura in tow, I was there to see how—over the course of 24 hours—5,800 people ate, what they ate, and how it all got made.

11:16 a.m.
The drinking starts early: mojitos, piña coladas, rum punch. The first bar I come across is in The Haven—Norwegian’s VIP wing—and it’s two-deep already. Here’s how many beers get drunk in a week on the Escape: 29,806. Add 5,500 bottles of wine and over 1,000 handles of liquor sold across the ship’s 21 bars, and it starts to make sense why “booze” and “cruise” kind of sound the same.

12:45 p.m.
We go in search of lunch alongside 4,000 passengers with the same goal and end up on deck 16, where the massive buffet is lined with pizza, french fries, burgers, pasta, and more. The Escape serves 22,000 meals every day out of 18 kitchens, which I will call galleys from here on out because, as I was corrected many times, that’s what you call a kitchen on a ship.

4:47 p.m.
Laura and I are in the largest galley, which services three dining rooms with identical menus. At 5,200 square feet, it’s bigger than an NBA court, and everything in it seems to scale. Cooks flip massive steaks on a grill the length of a train car. Pastry chefs drizzle chocolate sauce from squeeze bottles onto plates with hundreds of salted caramel tarts. The dish pit is a dish Grand Canyon.

There are 250 cooks on the Escape, each working 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, for six to nine months at a time. A dozen of them gather by a long counter lined with the night’s specials—bruschetta, pasta with shrimp, filet mignon, that chocolate salted-caramel tart. One by one they present each dish to Prejith Sukumaran, the Escape’s always-smiling executive chef, who tastes every plate with a tiny plastic spoon, nodding as he works his way down the line.

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Photo by Laura Murray

The Norwegian Escape in the Bahamas.

5:25 p.m.
Outside the galley, it’s finally dawned on people that they’re on vacation. Laura and I dodge a group with T-shirts that say “Oh ship! It’s her 60th birthday!” and find a table at Food Republic, a food-hall-esque restaurant with white subway tiles. The high-topped tables are equipped with iPads for ordering butter-soft sea bass skewers and some excellent pork belly ramen along with a couple tequila cocktails. We could be in Brooklyn, but Brooklyn is behind us, quickly disappearing on the horizon.

7:18 p.m.
We walk the long halls of the Escape, scoping out the other restaurants on board. There are 18 dining concepts—from the gelato shop to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville to fancier spots like Le Bistro (French concept), La Cucina (Italian concept), and Cagney’s (steakhouse concept).

We quickly realize that every restaurant is also a show. At Teppanyaki (hibachi concept), cooks juggle knives and spatulas over hot grills while making fried rice and singing “Hooked on a Feeling.” At the Supper Club, singers pass you foaming pints of beer between songs. At Moderno, servers present giant metal skewers of perfectly cooked Brazilian-style meats, which they shave onto our plates until we literally show them a red card and beg them to stop.

10:24 p.m.
Most of the restaurants on the Escape close at 10:30 p.m., but O’Sheehan’s is open 24 hours. It’s smack in the center of the ship next to the slot machines and overlooking an atrium with a giant movie screen. I love O’Sheehan’s because it reminds me of the Irish pubs of my suburban youth: glossy dark wood, a few shamrocks on the walls, really good chicken wings. The regulars call it O’Shay’s, and since I’ll be extremely regular here for the next 12 hours, I will call it that too.

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Photo by Laura Murray

A bowl of pork-belly ramen at Food Republic.

11:36 p.m.
In the narrow galley, night cooks are cranking out plates of prime rib (2,800 pounds per week) and baskets of wings (4,300 pounds per week). The attractive cast of the onboard musical eats at one long table; two women in pajamas share a plate of fries at another. At the bar, couples are meeting other couples and ordering rounds of drinks for their new best friends.

12:31 a.m.
I don’t normally drink caffeine, so I figure that a cup of coffee and a Diet Coke will keep me up for the night. I am very correct. Caffeine makes me unconquerable. We talk to newlyweds in matching shirts (“We’re on our honeymoon!”), two more newlyweds in matching shirts (“Wifey” and “Hubby”), and a guy we call Dancing with Corona Man because he is always doing exactly that.

1:45 a.m.
Laura is threatening to go to bed, so I ply her with nachos, wings, and light beer at O’Shay’s. There are a few hopeful singles at the bar and a group of teenage boys who take turns insulting each other and spraying soda out of their noses. Polishing off her food, Laura swears she’s going to make it through.

2:07 a.m.
Laura down. I’m going to have to win this night on my own. A young couple comes in, sweating from the dance party on deck 12 and feed each other bites of pasta. A man sits at a table alone, alternating between eating a hamburger and napping. I write in my notebook, “Is the whole world drunk?”

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Photo by Laura Murray

Pasta with shrimp for dinner in the Manhattan Room.

3:00 a.m.
O’Shay’s never closes, but it does stop serving booze at three. So now it’s just me and the cleaning staff, who swoop in out of nowhere like Mary Poppins, dusting every surface and vacuuming under my feet in preparation for the breakfast rush.

3:28 a.m.
I’m not tired, but I am bored. I read every word of the daily newsletter (cruise-letter?), marking the activities I plan to attend the next day: Mr. Sexy Legs Contest, Adult Karaoke Madness (18+), Guess the Weight of the 3D Crystal. I think about how everything on this boat has a start and an end, all these activities, even the cruise, even life itself. Only O’Shay’s is forever.

3:40 a.m.
I must have dozed off because suddenly all the tables have coffee mugs on them. A middle-aged couple comes in mid-fight—is it Wifey and Hubby?! I try to eavesdrop, but they take their iced teas to-go.

4:08: a.m.
Bacon smells come from the kitchen as a server meticulously refills every container of salt on every table. No other guests are in sight. Up on deck 16, the buffet staff is already cracking eggs (61,200 per week) and brewing coffee (3,000 pounds per week). Breakfast begins at 5:30. Downstairs on deck 5, the bakery crew is churning out muffins, danishes, and sticky buns (3,600 pounds of butter per week).

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Photo by Laura Murray

Two scoops from the onboard gelato shop.

5:45 a.m.
A guy in a fleece vest sits down and orders eggs and toast. I nearly whoop because that means it’s morning. I win O’Sheehan’s. I win at cruising. The queen would like her breakfast.

6:03 a.m.
I am eating oatmeal at O’Sheehan’s.

6:30 a.m.
I go back to my stateroom to watch the sunrise from my balcony. I check to see if the water is Bradley-Cooper’s-eyes-blue, but we’re still north of the Carolinas. The housekeeping staff has left an origami penguin made from folded hand towels on my bed. I take some selfies with it and wonder if I’ll ever sleep again.

10:30 a.m.
I wake up on top of the covers with my shoes on, spooning the penguin, who is now just two crumpled towels. Up on deck 16, the buffet has been serving breakfast for five hours already. In its galley, lunch prep is in full swing, and the specialty restaurants are getting deep-cleaned for tonight’s dinner. On the decks, the sun worshipers have taken their positions and the barflies order their first piña coladas (435 bottles of rum per week). While I slept, thousands of people ate and drank and ate some more. I get up, brush my teeth, and join them.

6 More Ways to Cruise for Food

Celebrity Cruises
Let’s be clear: Less isn’t more. Twenty-nine different dining options is more. Especially when one of them is a four-course meal featuring roasted lobster and filet mignon—guided by, you know, a tiny virtual reality chef.

Princess Cruises
Recently overhauled by wine genius Doug Frost (he’s both a Master Sommelier and a Master of Wine—one of only four in the world to hold both titles), the expansive onboard wine list is organized by flavor profile so you can be the captain of your own drinking voyage.

Holland America Line
Everyone loves a squad: the Avengers, the Mighty Ducks…and now the Culinary Council, an international chef dream team that includes a French-trained chocolatier and a Japanese sushi master.

Crystal Cruises
Take a cruise back in time with one ship’s new Rat Pack–themed Stardust Supper Club, where you can dress in sparkles and chow down to live renditions of Frank Sinatra.

Windstar Cruises
Prefer a bit more of a DIY situation? Grab your walking shoes for guided market crawls, wine tastings, and recipe demonstrations led by James Beard–recognized chefs and sommeliers.

Royal Caribbean Cruises
You’d have to eat 15 meals an hour for 24 hours straight (no sleeping!) to try all of the 350 dishes the newest and largest ship serves daily. We did the math. But don’t worry, there’s a robot bartender slinging two drinks a minute to help you wash it all down.

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Firefighters extinguish Agincourt Recreation Centre blaze after 39 hours – Toronto

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Authorities say a fire that started at Agincourt Recreation Centre on Thursday evening was put out Saturday morning after nearly 39 hours.

Toronto firefighters began battling the fire when it broke out just before 5 p.m. Thursday at the building near Sheppard and Midland avenues.

At its height, the blaze was as a three-alarm fire, but because of difficulties battling the flames, the rotation of equipment and crews was at a five-alarm level.

With that designation, there were 22 to 25 emergency vehicles on site.


READ MORE:
Toronto firefighters battling major fire at Agincourt Recreation Centre

No one was injured in the blaze, but the building has significant damage.

“It’s fairly extensive, but the best thing is property we can rebuild. Nobody was hurt,” said Toronto fire Capt. Scott Harrison.

Late Friday night, heavy machinery was also brought in to tear away parts of the building to expose any remaining hot spots.

Heavy machinery was brought in Friday night to tear away parts of the roof and expose hot spots.

John Hanley / Global News

A drone was also used in the firefighting efforts to help pinpoint heat signatures.

Extreme cold temperatures and the thickness of the roof made it hard for crews to put out the fire.

The Agincourt Recreation Centre is the second busiest facility in Scarborough, with nearly 3,000 registrations for more than 400 different courses in the winter session, City of Toronto spokesperson Brad Ross said.

Officials said they plan on moving those programs to other city facilities.

The Ontario fire marshal is now on scene investigating the cause of the fire.


READ MORE:
1,500 Toronto residents displaced after 6-alarm high-rise fire in St. James Town

Christiaan Ter Stege from the Fire Marshal’s Office told reporters that while the exact cause is under investigation, some witnesses told him the fire may have begun in an equipment room on the second floor of the facility.

“Once we can determine the area of origin, we’re going to start to look at potential ignition causes,” Ter Stege said.

He said most of the damage is also in that area of the building.

“Obviously, with equipment rooms, we have an HVAC system, pump generation stations,” Ter Stege said.

“We want to make sure if we have electricity there, it’s a potential cause for ignition so we’re going to examine those points.”

WATCH: Toronto firefighters battle major fire at Agincourt Recreation Centre






—With files from Nick Westoll

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay leaves passengers stuck on board for 16 hours

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Passengers travelling from Newark, N.J. to Hong Kong weren’t expecting to stop off in Goose Bay, N.L. for 16 hours this weekend. (@sonjaydutterson/Twitter)

A United Airlines plane diverted to Goose Bay Airport in Labrador Saturday night resulted in a lengthy stay on the tarmac, according to passengers who were stranded on the aircraft.

After a wait of about 16 hours, a rescue plane touched down around noon local time, and travellers reported they were transported to the alternate plane by bus after 2 p.m. AT. 

The plane took off for Newark Liberty International Airport shortly before 4 p.m.

In a statement to CBC News, the airline says United Flight 179 travelling from Newark, N.J., to Hong Kong was originally diverted to Goose Bay, N.L., due to medical emergency, where medical personnel met the plane and brought the passenger to hospital.

However, a mechanical issue prevented the plane from taking off again. Passengers were not able to leave the aircraft because customs officers were not available overnight, United said.

The airline told CBC News 250 passengers were on board.

Paramedics responded to a medical emergency on the plane that required crew to make an unplanned landing at the Goose Bay airport. (Submitted by Sonjay Dutt)

The airline believes cold weather caused a door on the plane to malfunction, preventing takeoff. Happy Valley-Goose Bay is currently grappling with an extreme cold warning issued by Environment Canada, with temperatures dipping below -30 C.

Communication poor, passenger says

Temperatures on the plane quickly plummeted to « uncomfortable » levels, said passenger Sonjay Dutt, a professional wrestler en route to Hong Kong for a show.

Crew handed out blankets, but according to Dutt, they were able to offer little else to assuage mounting anger from passengers.

« Communication could be better, » Dutt said in a phone call from the plane. Passengers were told at the start of the delay that a rescue flight had already departed to return them to Newark. An update wasn’t announced until about five hours later, he said.

They were also told the airport didn’t have the customs capacity to handle hundreds of passengers, Dutt added.

Dutt also said food and water was running low until about 10 hours into the delay, when officials delivered Tim Hortons to hungry travellers.

Most appreciated the gesture, Dutt said, but reaction to the offering was muted.

« I think people are so fed up, and so at their wits’ end, that even the sight of food didn’t get everyone up and cheering. »

Other passengers on board tweeted out complaints to United, wondering why they had been told a replacement plane was in the air and were not informed of further delays. Dutt said a pilot told passengers to email United’s CEO with complaints about communication practices.

A Twitter account sprang up Sunday morning poking fun at the situation.

In its statement Sunday morning, United said an alternative aircraft had been sent to Goose Bay to fly passengers back to Newark if mechanics are unable to fix the malfunctioning door.

Passengers reported that rescue plane touched down around noon and they waited another two hours to be transported to the alternate plane by bus.

The airline said it had food delivered to the plane and the second aircraft would provide more meals for passengers.

United said it apologizes to its customers and and would do everything possible to assist them during the delay.

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Canadians held in China face up to 4 hours a day of interrogation, ambassador says

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Two Canadian men detained in China face up to four hours of questioning each day and have no access to a lawyer, according to Canada’s top diplomat in Beijing.

Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were both detained in China late last year. The men, who were arrested not long after Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S., stand accused of national security offences.

« It’s not a fixed number, but on the order of four hours a day, » Ambassador John McCallum said Wednesday of the interrogations. « This could go on for up to six months under the Chinese system. It’s what they call an extra-judicial system so those are the conditions under which they are detained. »

McCallum provided the update on the conditions of Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Spavor, a businessman, after taking part in a special panel at a Liberal cabinet retreat in Sherbrooke, Que. 

McCallum said he has visited both men and spoken with their families, and has also visited Robert Schellenberg, a Canadian man who was recently sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling.

The ambassador said he is scheduled to speak with Schellenberg’s father Thursday.

McCallum said the government is taking steps on « many fronts » to garner support from world leaders and foreign ministers, but that’s « just the beginning. » He said business leaders and the media must also act to increase pressure on Beijing.

« I think we have to engage the senior Chinese leadership and persuade them that what they’re doing is not good for China’s image in the world, it’s not good for the image of corporate China in the world, and I think we have to always work with our U.S. allies, » he said.

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are both being detained in China with limited consular access. (Associated Press/International Crisis Group/Canadian Press)

McCallum said the detainees only have consular access once per month.

Asked if it’s time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make direct contact with Chinese President Xi Jinping, McCallum said: « I think the time will come when it’s most appropriate. »

It’s not clear when McCallum paid a visit to Schellenberg, who is now on death row after being convicted of smuggling 222 kilograms of methamphetamines. Schellenberg had appealed his 15-year prison sentence, but a court deemed that punishment too light at a retrial and ordered the death penalty.

As tensions between the countries increase, Canada issued an updated travel advisory for China, warning its citizens about the risk of arbitrary enforcement of laws in the country. 

Canadian Robert Schellenberg has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China. (CCTV via Associated Press)

China issued its own travel warning just hours later, citing the « arbitrary detention » of a Chinese national in Canada at the request of a « third-party country. »

Appeal for clemency

Earlier this week, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said the government had reached out to China’s ambassador to Canada requesting clemency.

« Canada’s position when it comes to the death penalty is consistent and of very long-standing, » she said. « As Canadians know, we do not have the death penalty in Canada. We believe it is inhumane and inappropriate, and wherever the death penalty is considered with regard to a Canadian we speak out against it. »

The latest escalation in diplomatic tensions is just one of the issues on the table for cabinet ministers at the three-day retreat that continues through Friday.

Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, said leaders in the U.S. have been supportive of Canada’s position so far.

« I hope they continue to back Canada in this particular dispute, » MacNaughton said.

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The first 24 hours after Ottawa’s fatal bus crash

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On Friday afternoon, just as rush hour was getting underway, a packed OC Transpo bus slammed into a bus shelter west of downtown Ottawa.

The next 24 hours were chaotic, as emergency crews scrambled to treat the injured and city officials tried to keep residents updated about the developments.

Here’s how it all happened.


Friday

3:50 p.m.:  A double-decker bus carrying dozens of people bound for Kanata collides with the shelter at Westboro station.

4:01 p.m.: Ottawa police announce that they’re responding to the crash and that « several » people have been hurt.

4:13 p.m.: One of the first photos of the crash shared on social media shows significant damage to the bus’s front end. Further photos would come in, showing seats dangling from the top level of the bus and stretchers waiting to ferry away injured people.

4:31 p.m.: More than 40 minutes after the crash, OC Transpo tweets that a collision has occurred and that buses are being detoured.

4:56 p.m.: Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweets his shock at the « horrific incident » and urges people to stay away from the crash site.

5:25 p.m.: The Ottawa Hospital says it’s treating two patients in critical condition.

5:48 p.m.: The Ottawa Paramedic Service gives its first public update, saying 17 people are injured.

6 p.m.: The hospital says nine people are now in critical condition at its trauma centre.

6:08 p.m.: The City of Ottawa announces that it’s opened a « family reunification centre » at a nearby seniors’ centre where people can go to get information about their loved ones.

6:15 p.m.: Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau updates media from the scene. He says there are « some fatalities, » but doesn’t give a number.

Police and first responders work at Westboro station where a double-decker OC Tranpo bus struck the shelter on Jan. 11. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

7 p.m.: Watson, Bordeleau, OC Transpo general manager John Manconi and other city officials assemble for a news conference at Ottawa City Hall. Watson says that three people are confirmed dead and that 23 others were injured. Bordeleau says the bus driver has been arrested.

8:01 p.m.: Paramedics announce they’ve finished their work at the scene.

8:25 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford issues a statement that he’s « shocked and saddened » by the crash. He applauds the work of first responders.

11:55 p.m.: CBC learns that the driver of the bus has been released from custody.

A tow truck pulls away a damaged OC Transpo bus from Westboro station on Jan. 12. The double-decker bus struck the shelter the day before. (Idil Mussa/CBC)

Saturday

12 a.m.: The city closes the reunification centre.

7:50 a.m.: Two men come by the scene and put up a tree. One man tearfully tells a CBC reporter they want to affix the names of the victims to its branches.

7:59 a.m.: Ottawa police say they’ve confirmed the identities of the three people who died, but do not release their names. 

11:12 a.m.: The Ottawa Hospital tweets that it only has one person left in critical condition.

1 p.m.:  At a press conference, Sgt. Cameron Graham with the force’s collision investigation unit says officers will be reconstructing the crash to find out what happened. He urges people who were on the bus or saw what happened to come forward, and predicts the crash scene will likely be cleared by Saturday night.

3:27 p.m. Crews begin to tow the bus involved in the crash away from the station.

3:45 p.m. Nearly 24 hours after the fatal collision, police begin driving a similar bus up and down the Transitway near Westboro station in an attempt to figure out what happened.

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Draw for Ontario’s cannabis licence lottery expected today, with results within 24 hours

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Ontario could announce the results of a lottery to apply for the first 25 retail cannabis licences as early as today.

Those seeking to open a pot shop in the province had from Monday to early afternoon Wednesday to submit an expression of interest.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which will regulate the province’s retail cannabis outlets, has said it will pick the winners randomly today, with the results expected to be announced within 24 hours.

Those selected through the lottery will have five business days to turn in their application along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.

The licences are being divided regionally, with five going to the east of the province, seven in the west, two in the north, six in the Greater Toronto Area and five in Toronto itself.

Recreational cannabis can currently only be purchased legally in Ontario through a government-run website, with the first private stores set to open April 1.

The Progressive Conservative government had initially said it would not put a cap on the number of outlets, but later said it would begin with only 25 licences due to what it called serious cannabis supply issues that had to be addressed by the federal government.

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How to Meal Prep a Week’s Worth of Not-Boring Lunches in Two Hours | Healthyish

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This story is part of the 2019 Feel Good Food Plan, our two-week mind-body-belly plan for starting the year off right.

This year’s Feel Good Food Plan lunch strategy is all about doing more with less. This weekend you’ll make three big-batch recipes (Chickpeas! Roasted vegetables! Eggs!) and two flavor-packed sauces. Grab some fresh greens at the store, and you’re set for a week of never-boring lunches. Here’s how it all comes together:

Cooked chickpeas are the anchor of this plan; you’ll turn them into a week’s worth of soups, salads, and creamy hummus. Before all that can happen, though, you’ll want to soak 1 pound of dried chickpeas overnight to cut down on tomorrow’s cook time. (If you’re using an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, there’s no need to soak.) The next day, when you’re ready to meal prep, start with the chickpea recipe below. Luckily the hands-off cooking method, inspired by Mina Stone, makes it easy to prepare everything else while you wait.

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This hands-off method was inspired by Mina Stone, author of Cooking for Artists, who swears by adding lemon zest and olive oil for brightness and full-on flavor. We wholeheartedly agree!

SEE RECIPE

If you’re using an Instant Pot, combine the chickpeas with 8 cups of water and cook for 33 minutes on high pressure. After the beans are cooked, use a manual pressure release.

While the chickpeas are simmering, you’ll tackle the roasted vegetables. Use sweet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, onions—whatever you’re going to want to eat this week. Just make sure to chop them into relatively equal sizes so they cook at the same time.

FGFP-Roasted-Veg-Horizontal.jpg

Roasted vegetables are the perfect, hands-off way to prep healthyish lunches for the week. Use asparagus, brussels sprouts, onions—whatever vegetables you’re craving.

SEE RECIPE

While the roasted vegetables and chickpeas are going, cook any hard-boiled (or soft-boiled) eggs you’d like to eat this week. You’ll use around six eggs throughout the week, but add in a few more if you’d like to prep for breakfast too.

For hard-boiled eggs, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower eggs into the water one at a time. Once the water comes back to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool until just slightly warm, about two minutes. Gently crack eggs all over and peel, starting from the wider end, where there’s a handy air pocket

Finally, take a few minutes to prep two essential super sauces that will liven up the simplest middle-of-the-week lunch. We suggest a creamy tahini-ranch and a just-basic-enough shallot vinaigrette, but choose any dips or dressings that call to you from this list.

tahini-ranch-dressing.jpg

We would never ask you to use your blender if it didn’t make a smoother and better dressing. The effort is worth it; you’ll have enough sauce to get you through a week of lunches.

SEE RECIPE

just-basic-enough-vinaigrette.jpg

This is a great excuse to treat yourself to some seriously delicious vinegar—check out this list of our favorites.

SEE RECIPE

Finally, creamy hummus is an excellent base for roasted vegetables, hard boiled eggs, and any raw vegetables you have on hand. Plus, it can be prepped up to five days in advance. Make the hummus by blending 1.5 cups drained chickpeas with the juice of 1 large lemon, 1 garlic clove, ½ cup tahini, ¾ tsp. salt, 10 cracks pepper, ¼ tsp. cumin, and 2 Tbsp. water. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Two hours later, everything you need for a week of great lunches is at your disposal. (If you’d like to save some of the chickpeas for another week, submerge them in their cooking liquid and freeze. When you’re ready to eat them, reheat the chickpeas and liquid in a saucepan with a splash of water.)

Monday through Friday, you’re just a few steps away from any of the lunches below.

FGFP Lunch Mezze Horizontal

Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Sue Li, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski

Lunch idea 1: Easy Mezze Plate

If you haven’t prepped your hummus, follow the above instructions. Once it’s made, all that’s left to do is assemble. Snip some tender stemmed cilantro or mint, halve a hard boiled egg, and crumble up some feta. Place the toppings onto the hummus with some of your meal-prepped roasted vegetables, then freshen it up at lunchtime with a lemon wedge or drizzle of olive oil.

FGFP Lunch Egg Salad Horizontal

Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Sue Li, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski

Lunch idea 2: Chickpea Salad with Bitter Greens

Radicchio is wonderfully bitter and crunchy, and makes a hardy base for cooked chickpeas, eggs, and any vegetables you have on hand. Those meal-prepped chickpeas and eggs are the only cooked components you need, so all that’s left to do is a bit of quick assembly. Prep any sturdy green, slice a few Persian cucumbers, chop up your favorite herbs, and halve two hard-boiled eggs. Put down a layer of radicchio or any green you fancy, then scatter your toppings on top and finish with a generous drizzle of tahini ranch (or another dressing) and a few cranks of black pepper.

FGFP Chickpea Sammie Horizontal

Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Sue Li, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski

Lunch idea 3: Smashed Chickpea Sandwich

Tuna salad goes vegetarian with this creamy, crunchy chickpea sandwich recipe. Crush a generous scoop of drained chickpeas with the back of a spoon, then add yogurt, olive oil, or tahini ranch for creaminess and heft. Mix in chopped celery, capers, or pepperoncini, then layer with thinly sliced vegetables and lettuce on whole grain bread. Wrap your sandwich tightly with butcher paper or parchment paper to keep stray chickpeas from falling out.

FGFP Lunch Chickpea Soup Horizontal

Photo by Alex Lau, Food Styling by Sue Li, Prop Styling by Kalen Kaminski

Lunch idea 4: Brothy Chickpea Soup

This soup is made by doctoring up the delicious brothy, super flavorful chickpea cooking liquid with two teaspoons of white miso. Place chickpeas and their liquid in a small saucepan, drop in chunks of roasted sweet potato or other roasted vegetables (which you already meal-prepped!), and gently heat. Tear and add sturdy greens like kale or collards for additional heft. Add a thinly sliced egg once it’s all hot, and a dash of hot sauce or chile crisp. If you’re working with a microwave, thin the miso with a splash of chickpea liquid before adding the rest of the chickpea mixture, then add vegetables and heat. Add the egg hot sauce once the soup is hot.

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Mother sensed ‘something wasn’t right’ in hours before TSN staffer was found shot dead

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Grace Gayle was starting dinner in anticipation of her son’s arrival home on Dec. 12, but he never made it.

“I wanted to make him something special that he likes because I knew he was coming home,” she said.

The meal of barbecue chicken wings and homemade potato wedges was left incomplete. So too was Jonathan Gayle-West’s routine drive home — cut short by bullets.

It was customary for the mother, who raised both her sons — Jonathan and his older brother Justin — in Richmond Hill before relocating to Oshawa a few years ago, to make everything from scratch, peeling the potatoes before briefly boiling and then frying them.

What was unusual this time around was that she waited for hours without even hearing word from her son about his whereabouts.

As relatives of the deceased TSN staffer prepare for his funeral Saturday, his mother and brother lament that they had no inkling anything had gone awry leading up to him being shot and killed behind the wheel of his Honda Civic while driving along Islington Ave.

By all accounts, Gayle-West was having a routine day before he became Toronto’s 93rd homicide victim in a brazen shooting along the busy city street.

Amplifying his relatives’ bewilderment is the revelation that he was returning from a private prayer session when he was killed.

His mother expected him to be home before 8 p.m.

“When he finished the session of prayer, the minister text me to say that your handsome son just left,” she said. That was shortly before 6 p.m., she estimates.

“He was a man of faith,” she said. “The Sunday before his death he went to church.”

Grace Gayle found it strange he didn’t respond when she inquired about his whereabouts, shortly after 7 p.m.

She proceeded on to bed and awoke from her sleep at 1 a.m., to find police at her doorstep.

“They said they had reason to believe he was shot,” she said. “I started screaming and hollering. I was shattered.”

The surreal experience has left a gaping hole filled with unanswered questions.

She had no suspicion of anything amiss that would have triggered the egregious act.

“Nothing that would have made someone take his life,” she said.

Gayle-West, of Oshawa, was pronounced dead at the scene, near Islington Ave. and St. Andrews Blvd. Police rushed to the scene at around 6 p.m., when gunshots rang out. He was found in the driver’s seat of his car, which had struck a tree.

Gayle-West was remembered by his former colleagues at Rogers Sportsnet and TSN, many of whom expressed their grief via social media, while others took time during regular broadcast of their shows to memorialize the endearing and beloved 29-year-old.

Gayle-West was a member of the production team at TSN where he worked with Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, BarDown, TSN 1050 and in the newsroom.

His older brother, Justin Gayle, 34, remains puzzled about what triggered the callous act of violence that snuffed out his brother’s life and his promising prospects along with it.

Justin doesn’t want to speculate as to what might have transpired.

“We know it’s going to come to the forefront soon,” Justin said.

“Nothing happened that made me feel his life was at risk,” he said. “We’re perplexed. He was literally coming from a Bible study.”

Gayle had moved into his mother’s home in the summer after splitting with his girlfriend.

In an attempt to “pickup the pieces” from the breakup, Gayle-West started scribbling in a journal, where he wrote Bible verses, later found by his brother, Justin said.

“I found all this stuff of a man picking himself back up,” he said. “He had a vision board looking towards the future.”

“With the kind of person he was and how he affected people, it’s just an unanswerable question right now,” he said.

Justin recalls his brother being enthralled by all things professional wrestling.

“He was big into that scene,” Justin said.

Above all, Gayle-West’s ambition was to be a sports journalist.

While completing a degree in communications at York University, he honed his skills volunteering at the local Rogers TV station.

“He started as an assistant setting up the mobile television production for Rogers TV and then he eventually appeared as a reporter for a magazine show,” Justin said.

It wasn’t long before sports network television came calling.

“He spent at few years at Rogers Sportsnet before making the move to TSN,” Justin noted.

Gayle-West was gearing up to take another shot at making the big jump from behind the scenes to being a sports anchor.

“He had tried a few years ago,” Justin said. “He was being groomed on how to be an on-air personality. It was his next step.”

A celebration of life service is slated for Calvary Baptist Church, 300 Rossland Rd. E., Oshawa on Saturday. Visitation will go from 10 a.m. until the funeral service at 11 a.m., with interment to follow at Mount Lawn Cemetery.

Jason Miller is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Reach him on email: jasonmiller@thestar.ca

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Man shot dead in downtown core in second fatal shooting in 24 hours

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A man in his 20s is dead and a woman is injured after a double shooting in the downtown core Wednesday morning that capped off a violent 24 hours in the city.

It was only about 15 minutes past midnight when police received numerous reports of gunshots heard on King St. W., near Spadina Ave.

In the sixth Toronto shooting within 24 hours, a woman was shot in the leg, and a man was killed, police say.
In the sixth Toronto shooting within 24 hours, a woman was shot in the leg, and a man was killed, police say.  (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

It was a busy night in the downtown core. Many people were still in the area when the shooting occured. Thirty-six-year-old Mike Dickson, who works for theScore sports app on the top floor of 500 King St. W., was one of them.

“Just after midnight, those of us that were left in the newsroom heard 8 or 9 gunshots ring out very loudly,” he told the Star. “The sound was unmistakable, and we all glanced at each other, frozen for a moment, before running to the window.”

They saw a man lying unmoving on the ground in front of Firkin Freehouse, a pub directly across the road from them, Dickson said.

“I immediately grabbed my phone and called 911.”

Coincidentally, there were already officers in the area, according to Insp. Darren Alldrit.

“We had officers who were conducting a RIDE spot check on Spadina just south of King at the same time,” said Alldrit. “They also heard numerous gunshots. They immediately ran to the scene, where they located a male and a female who had suffered gunshot wounds.”

Police said the woman had been shot in the leg, sustaining serious, but non life-threatening injuries. The man, however, was without vital signs.

From his vantage point above, Dickson, still on the phone with the police, said he saw two officers on foot approach the male victim and begin to attempt medical assistance, one officer launching into CPR.

He said two police cruisers pulled up not long after, and other officers were directed into a nearby alleyway, emerging around 15 minutes later with what seemed to be the female victim on a stretcher. The male victim had already been taken away by ambulance at that point, Dickson said.

“His face was ghostly white, as pale as I’ve ever seen,” Dickson said.

Police confirmed that both the man and woman were rushed to hospital, where the man later died. Paramedics said the two victims were in their 20s.

It was the sixth shooting incident in the city in a 24-hour period, and the second one to prove fatal. Earlier Tuesday morning, a man was shot dead while he was sitting with a woman in a vehicle parked outside of a North York apartment building. He has been identified by police as 28-year-old Lawrence Errol Joel John, of Toronto.

Dickson, who has worked in the King St. area for about 10 years, said he’s heard distant gunshots before, but has never “seen anything this close before.” Nothing, he said, has had “the same impact as tonight.”

King St. W. was closed both ways between Spadina Ave. and Portland St. for the investigation.

Police are asking anyone with information on the King St. W. shooting to come forward and speak to them.

With files from Ilya Bañares.

Alexandra Jones is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @AlexandraMaeJ

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Ford government extends hours at LCBO, Beer Store, licensed grocers starting Sunday

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Premier Doug Ford’s government has extended hours of LCBO stores, the Beer Store and authorized grocery retailers in Ontario, allowing them to sell alcohol between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. seven days a week. 

The change kicked in Sunday as part of the Progressive Conservative’s modernization laid out in their fall economic outlook released last month. 

« This change will improve choice, access and convenience, and will allow consumers to make responsible choices that work best for them, » the statement read.  

Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark echoed this on social media Sunday, saying the extension of alcohol sale times offers Ontarians « improved choice and convenience. » 

Before the shift in guidelines, managed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, alcohol could only be sold between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

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