Terroir is a not-for-profit committee of industry professionals who put on an annual symposium for the purpose of inspiring and educating people in the hospitality industry.
Terroir 2017 took place at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on May 29. For Canada’s 150th birthday, the theme this year was Our Home & Native Land with a focus on listening to others and discovering where we are gastronomically in Canada and how we got here.
Follow us for the day for a taste of Terroir.
A great first visual for a foodie day. The Art Gallery of Ontario’s culinary clay celebration of Canada’s 150 years.
Guest speakers, seminar presenters, panel participants and anyone standing next to us during breakfast or lunch – perhaps an author, chef, farmer, fisher, baker, film maker or chocolatier – talked passionately about the role they are playing in the Canadian food industry.
Renee Bellefeuille, Executive Chef for the Art Gallery of Ontario, energized us by reinventing some of her French Canadian grandmother’s dishes.
Breakfast Poutine with sweet peas and egg.
Tourtière “sausage rolls” with raisin & onion chutney.
Cranberry bean balls.
Blueberry pancakes with crème fraîche.
Matty Matheson, Executive Chef at Parts & Labour, Toronto, was our MC.
First Nations presenters reminded us that our precious food sources connect us to the land and must be cared for. After Lisa Odjig McHayle, two-time world champion hoop dancer, performed her award-winning Hoop Dance, Marcel Shepert (above), spokesperson for the River Select Brand in Prince George, British Columbia, talked about the character of the salmon and how the First Nations people are at the forefront of protecting them for the future of all of us.
Philip Cote conducted a sweetgrass ceremony. By offering us an opportunity to smudge, he encouraged us to focus our minds and clear our thinking, to hear the good things in life, to speak of good things and use kind words, to feel good about ourselves and others.
Sarain Carson-Fox spoke about changes in the indigenous community. John Croutch, a Wikwemikong activist, used the story of The Three Sisters – corn, beans, and squash-the traditional garden vegetables that exist to mutually benefit one another, as a lesson for the future of Mother Earth.
Chef Shane Chartrand, from Edmonton, Alberta, works to ensure that aboriginal cuisine continues to be a player in the Canadian food scene. He talked about eating as a ceremony, a celebration, an opportunity to share stories around the table.
Anita Stewart, founder of Food Day Canada, outlined the history of food terroir from the early days of cooking with wooden bentwood boxes to restaurants today that proudly and passionately serve up Canadian cuisine.
Of the four concurrent sessions available next, we attended What Terroir Tells Us, hosted by Bob Blumer (above with The Cooking Ladies). Ursula Heinzelmann, a German wine and cheese expert, talked about the influence of of Canada’s unique climate on our wines. Shauna White, Vineyard Manager and winemaker at Adamo Estate Winery in Orangeville, Ontario, described the challenges of creating a new winery. Tarynn Liv Parker, from the Okanagan, British Columbia, encouraged what she called market eating, eating what is grown in our own area. Marion Kane, who created the term Food Sleuth®, shared the origins of the three iconic Canadian foods: The McIntosh apple, poutine, and butter tarts. Nikki Bayley reviewed all the influences on Canadian cuisine and concluded that it is a unique cuisine because of its native and immigrant history.
We met with Jonathan Gushue, Chef-owner of The Berlin, in Kitchener, Ontario, where he enhances the natural, delicate flavours of food by cooking over live coals.
Lunch showcased Canadian sustainable seafood. For the desserts, local chefs paired Canadian ingredients with Cacao Berry chocolates. And in between, VQA Wines of Ontario poured Canadian wines.
Albacore Tuna Donrubi with wild salmon roe, brown sushi rice & ginger pickled fiddleheads.
Shrimp Escabêche on ramp crêpe.
Acadia Shortnose Sturgeon Toasts of rillette, caviar & asparagus.
Charles Baker’s reisling.
Blueberry and Zephyr Macaroons with Apple-Hazlenut Kouignamman.
Ice Wine Bonbons.
Chocolate bon bons inspired by the Canadian Pulp and Paper pavilion at Expo67.
Canadian ice wine on top of ice-wine infused ganache.
Pecan Crunch with dark chocolate ganache, mousse café & chantilly dark chocolate.
Maple Leaf with white chocolate vanilla cream, maple mousse & biscuit.
Ontario Reisling was featured during Long Live Reisling, a tasting and panel discussion of different Reisling styles. Other seminars covered skin-fermented white wines, also known as orange wines, and the explosive Canadian sparkling wine scene.
Our first session in the afternoon, The Road Map To Exceptional, introduced Canadians who have travelled the world. Food writers, Naomi Duguid and Ivy Knight described how their food travels in other countries gave them a new perspective on food at home.
In her travels, Aman Dosanj (above), founder of The Paisley Notebook, learned that food makes memories. Aman’s trendy pop-up dinners in British Columbia are her way of educating people to the real value of food. She encourages consumers to go directly to their local producers.
In a session on Growing Forward, Dr. Nancy Tout, a scientist, Will Bermann, a third generation family farmer in Manitoba, and Ned Bell ambassador to Ocean Wise, described the role that data is playing in the production of food today and stressed the need for more knowledge and innovation for the future.
During the Canadians of the 21st Century session, Ann Hui (above), food reporter with the Globe & Mail, recounted the story behind the Chinese restaurants found in every small town across Canada. Chris Aerni, chef-owner of the Rossmount Inn in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, divulged that it was the land and the produce that lured him to New Brunswick, but it is the people who keep him there. Suresh Doss, a food and drink writer, conducts food tours in Toronto. But not downtown. For Suresh, it is the shops, markets, and restaurants in the suburbs that showcase authentic food. He believes these communities will preserve so many cultures that are being destroyed around the world. Bashir Munye, the founder of the Nomadic Dinner series and Chef-owner of My Little Dumplings in Toronto, added that new Canadians not only participate in our communities, they make contributions. Bashir works to connect new Canadian chefs with the myriads of Canadian ingredients at their disposal.
Through the afternoon Newcomer Kitchen provided a pop up snack break. Newcomer Kitchen is a non-profit organization that invites newly-arrived Syrian refugee women to cook a weekly meal. The meals are sold online. Their goal is to create a model that can be replicated with any newcomer group, in any restaurant kitchen, anywhere.
The Baillie Court venue buzzed with conversation as we all gathered for our final session together.
The high energy wrap up began with Kevin Kossowan (above), the Edmonton filmmaker, who often takes his cameras into unpleasant territory. Kevin likes to eat something unique every where he goes, food that speaks to its geographical location. Discouraging waste and underutilization, he encourages foraging, wanting us to make use of all that is available to us.
Courtney Hirota (on the left), of Pulse Canada, warned us that we Canadians need to shift our choice of food from what we “want” to what we “need”. Pulse Canada promotes peas, beans, lentils, and chickpeas as affordable, accessible, and nutritious. Throughout the day, Chef Christine Farkas (right) served Pina Colada White Bean Smoothies.
Michael Abelman, an author and organic farmer based on Salt Spring Island on the west coast, is filled with hope for the food future as long as we form relationships with our food producers. By knowing the producers, their employees and their working conditions we can establish what Michael describes as our soul food – our nourishment based upon relationships with others.
In a Youth Mentorship presentation, Jacob Richler (left) interviewed Alison Ramage, a San Pellegrino Young Chef Competitor, and Normand Laprise, a Chef-owner Young Chef Mentor, Montreal.
Canadian culinary icons Lynn Crawford, Dufflet Rosenberg, Susur Lee, and Matty Matheson shared their thoughts with moderator Amanda Cohen, Chef-owner of Dirt Candy in New York, on Canadian cuisine and Canadian consumers.
At the very end of our food-focused day, Arlene Smith, the founder of Terroir, proposed a simple message: Terroir is about community. No argument there.