I am a really, REALLY mean person. (Or, Pulp Kitchen gives vegans a bad name.)

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If there’s one thing I am good at, it’s holding a grudge. Butted in front of me at the high-school cafeteria? I remember. Borrowed five bucks from me and never paid it back? I’m calculating the interest ten years later. Buggered me with the tabernacle right before Christmas Mass? I’m making sure Jesus knows about it as you’re breathing your last breaths. And when I forget, I’ve got my handy email history to remind me of all the wrongs I’ve been wronged, like the email exchange below.

So pretty recently I answered an ad looking for a part-time chef at Pulp Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in Toronto. I have worked as a chef, albeit in a limited capacity, and I love the concept of part-time employment, so I figured “why not?”

Well here’s why not:

1) the “owner,” a lady named Marie, asked during the interview if it would be OK were I to come in and do an “extended interview” over the holiday. This meant would it be ok to work for free. Being a dummy, I said yes, even though I have a hunch this is not even legal, let alone ethical.

2) The “kitchen” is a Black & Decker hot plate that sells for $50 on Amazon and a 7-cup Cuisinart food processor. (I’m not joking about the hot plate – they had no stove. It was the same hotplate that my family uses once a year – on Christmas morning to keep croissants warm.)

3) The “brunch” service had about seven customers.

4) The “menu” was 50% silken tofu in a blender. Cilantro mayonnaise? Tofu Omelette? French Toast Batter? All silken tofu in a blender. Not only that, it was made several days in advance. I made 24 “omelettes” while I was there and they were being wrapped in cling-film and refrigerated for use at next week’s brunch.

5) The “chef” responsible – well – chefs are all crazy so I can’t hold anything against her. But she did get an order of oatmeal cancelled so kept the same oatmeal hot on a pan for 3 hours in case “we get another order for oatmeal.” Dude: 5 tablespoons of oats costs $0.30. A fine from the health inspector costs you thousands and thousands in lost business.

6) The “part time” schedule went from “a few shifts a week” over the phone to “Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Every week” Good luck.

7) They use at least two meat/cheese substitutes that are NOT vegan but at the same time don’t tell people this unless they specifically ask. In other words, they bill themselves as a vegan restaurant but serve non-vegan food to customers. Also pretty dubious.

All 7 Courses of a 7 Course Meal At Pulp Kitchen

Anyhow, being the moron that I am, I worked the shift, it was a few hours over Easter weekend, not a big deal. In that time, I made their mayonnaise, french toast, omelettes, sweet potato hash browns, fruit salad, and grilled the “bangers,” which are pre-bought soy sausages.

Basically, as a vegan, as a chef, and as a lover of food – this place fails the test in every capacity. The standards are as low as I’ve ever seen in the food industry. And that includes my stint restocking the sandwich vending machine at an auto-plant that required only one visit every three weeks.

So, back to my grudges. I worked this free labour for Marie at Pulp Kitchen, the shittiest vegan restaurant in Toronto and maybe the world, and when I left she said that she’d speak to the chef and then let me know if I got the job. I know they’d had (and are still having) major staff turnover trouble, because everybody was new, and two months later they have a new head chef, and pretty much everything is going kaput. So I figured, I probably don’t want to work there anyhow. But. I kind of expected to be asked back. Or if not, to be called and said thanks for the slave labour.

Not so much as a phonecall or email.

So I waited a couple weeks and called. I was told Marie was “on vacation” but would be back soon, so I left a message. Still no reply. Eventually it bothered me enough that, a month and a half later, I wrote to Marie and had the following exchange:


From: The Schnerg
To: gethealthy@pulpkitchen.ca
Subject: Did I Get the Job!?

Hi Marie,

Just curious to know what your decision was on that job.
I came in and worked for free one day and then never heard from you.


From: Marie
To: The Schnerg
Subject: Did I Get the Job!?

We did hire someone else, but will be needing new staff in the near future as we expand our hours to incorporate a dinner menu.  I forwarded your e-mail to Tarah who you would have met and is in charge of hiring kitchen staff from now on.

From: The Schnerg
To: gethealthy@pulpkitchen.ca
Subject: Did I Get the Job!?

Wow, you are dense.

My point was that if somebody comes to work for free (which is of very dubious legality btw), it might be nice if you had the courtesy to contact them and let them know what happened.

Regardless, best of luck in the future with your extensive catalogue of silken-tofu-in-a-blender recipes and high staff turnover rates.

From: Marie
To: The Schnerg
Subject: Did I Get the Job!?
Wow, if “dense” means open and honest and not a really, really hurtful and insulting person like you clearly are then I’ll take it.

From: The Schnerg
To: gethealthy@pulpkitchen.ca
Subject: Did I Get the Job!?



Anyhow, it turns out that Marie moonlights as a wannabe politician.  In 2008 she garnered  177 votes, a whopping 0.39% of the popular vote running for MP in the Toronto Danforth riding. I’m sure she wasn’t so ‘dense’ as to think she could win, but then again – she thinks people are going to happily pay $12.50 for store-bought polenta with a slop of baked beans and some mixed greens on the side.

You’d think that all this might help me get the grudge off my chest. It doesn’t. But hopefully it will stop people from eating at, or working at (free or paid) this dump.

If you want a vegan meal, try a place like this.. or. . . this … or definitely THIS… or this

(ok the last one is not the greatest unless you stick to appetizers only but I had to give a Toronto shoutout.)

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by hilina on May 21, 2010 at 2:36 am

    thank you for the hea’ds up. silken tofu in a blender. hilarious


  2. i wanted to reply that “no i mean dense like your tofu omelette’ but…. getting into a protracted email exchange is kinda boring after a while. I find “Thanks!” is generally a good way of ending things.


  3. Posted by Felix on May 21, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Sounds brutal… What a joke!


  4. yeah it is brutal for sure – thanks for reading. And if you ever get a hankering for vegan food, definitely try Millenium on the West Coast or Pure in Manhattan – both are amazing 🙂


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