One of Timmins’ iconic businesses celebrated a pair of anniversaries this year.
Toffanello’s Fresh Pasta marked its 30th year in business this year, earning a milestone award from the Timmins Chamber of Commerce. But 2019 also marked the fifth anniversary for owner Krysta Kiraga, who purchased the business from Mark Toffanello in 2014.
“I want to stay in Timmins. I don’t want to move around because I miss my family too much,” she explained. “I need to find something that will keep me busy, keep me entertained, because I get bored pretty easy.”
Kiraga, from Timmins, worked at East Side Mario’s until university. She switched from university English literature to restaurant management at Canadore College.
She later returned to university for business and public relations and marketing. After working in marketing, she travelled while working with Fairmount Resorts.
“I learned fine service and great service, travelled around the country and learned food and wine,” she said.
But she also decided that she wanted to work for herself.
Then, call it fate or just good timing, the perfect opportunity appeared.
“I was snowshoeing with my mom and she told me Toffanello’s was for sale,” Kiraga explained. “I said, ‘That is fresh fast food. That’s perfect.’ So, we went out for a glass of wine.
“We walked by and there was a light on here at nine o’clock at night and I banged on the window. Mark happened to be here. We had never met before. So, we made a coffee date for the next day. And the rest is history.
“It snowballed really fast. A week later I was training. Three months later, papers were signed and it was a done deal.”
Kiraga took over the business July 1, 2014.
She had big plans, but needed more room for production, storage and retail.
“There wasn’t enough space,” she said. “I promised to keep all the recipes — that’s where the gold is — so I did. My being a foodie and knowing the way trends are moving for people and what they want to eat, I wanted to introduce some new products, but we just didn’t have the space.”
In her second year, the neighbouring space opened up and Kiraga leaped at the opportunity. With the extra room, new dishes, retail items and services were added to Toffanello’s repertoire.
“There used to be five types of lasagne, we now have seven,” she said. “We’ve also done a few more quick service dishes.
“I’ve also created a small little niche of people who have us cook what I call a surprise cater menu. I take a lot of ingredients that you would see here in a much more traditional sense and kind of kick them up a notch. Doing something a little bit finer, a little be different, the way someone who wants to explore flavours will have them. Whereas most of our recipes are amazing classics, simple Italian recipes. For example, we’ll have a baked mac and cheese or a barbecue chicken lasagne.
“Those things are new and working well.”
Other new items available in the shop include shrimp shells, roasted garlic cannelloni and sausage and pepper arrabiata. There is also a vegan lasagne and vegan pasta. Specialty grocery items included a variety of olives imported from Italy, olive oils from Italy and infused olive oils.
Kiraga also has more plans for the future.
“I would like to start doing some pop-up kitchens,” she said. “There are a few local chefs who would like to do that so we can serve some hot food.
“I’m trying to get into some more grocery markets in some of the more northern communities, whether in Quebec — who have a really big passion for fine food — or even just locally.”
She made sure the two significant anniversaries for the store were publicly marked.
“We celebrated by not taking the day off and setting up a booth for Canada Day,” Kiraga said.
“Every person who visited us that day got a coupon for a free bag of pasta. We gave out about 500 free bags of pasta that day, just to thank people.”
One of the toughest decisions she faces is deciding which is exactly her favourite product offered by her store.
“I’m a really big fan of the baked mac and cheese,” she said. “I like that it is a fully vegetarian product that is not lacking in flavour whatsoever. We actually turn the sauce orange by grinding orange peppers.
“I also eat one of Mark’s recipes, his veggie sauce. It has 12 different vegetables that are ground up, but have a little bit of texture. I eat that sauce like soup. When we make that, I literally cannot resist it. I put a little bit in a bowl and put some mozza on top.
“And the ravioli is probably my favourite pasta. Our cheese ravioli is pretty stellar.”
Kiraga is pleased to have a balance of classic favourites beloved by Timmins residents and also a variety of new items.
“Even though he had it for 25 years and we’ve had it for five, I feel we’re in the perfect state of foodie society to carry on for a long, long time,” she said. “We have so much interest in the public in eating clean. We cook clean, we only use ingredients that don’t have ingredients already.
“I’m proud and grateful.”
Toffanello’s Fresh Pasta is located at 119 Wilson Ave. in Timmins.
It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the business online at toffanellosfreshpasta.com.