By: Shannon Schaefer
Canadian food culture was at the forefront of the celebration at the annual Taste Canada Awards, held at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto on Oct. 29. This year’s celebration focused on the role that food plays in Canadian culture.
“In Canada, every day, 22 million people eat in restaurants, cafés or go out with friends for a drink at a bar,” said Donna Dooher, the national chair of Taste Canada. “Food brings us together and, in the world today, we need that - we need to come together. Here in Canada, luckily, we have a great agriculture history to support that.”
Her Honour Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the lieutenant-governor of Ontario, delivered opening remarks.
“What we cook and eat can express so much,” she said. “From our cultures, our traditions and innovations, to our common ground and our very personal tastes.”
Taste Canada, founded as a not-for-profit in 1988, brings together writers, publishers, chefs, farmers, industry, media and cookbook fans to celebrate Canada’s food culture.
This year, 91 cookbooks and 50 food blogs were considered by the Taste Canada Award’s jury, which is comprised of volunteers from Canada’s culinary profession who are appointed by an independent selection committee.
“Tonight, we celebrate two things that bind us together as Canadians: food and our stories,” said Dowdeswell.
The evening started with an opening reception by Summer Fresh, the awards presentation, and an extraordinary gastronomic celebration. There were 26 first and second place awards that were revealed for both English and French publications in seven different categories: culinary narratives, general cookbooks, regional/cultural cookbooks, single-subject cookbooks, health and special diet cookbooks, general food blogs and finally, health and special diet blogs.
Award winners included celebrity chefs Vikram Vij, who won gold in the “culinary narrative” category for his book Vij, and Lynn Crawford who won gold in the “general cookbook” category for her book Farm to Chef.
Hall of Fame Awards – an award for a body of work that has impacted Canadian cuisine – were presented to Graham Kerr for his television cooking show The Galloping Gourmet and posthumously to the late Constance Hart who wrote Household Recipes and is considered the first Jewish person in Canada to write a cookbook.
After the awards ceremony, guests were invited to a gala celebration hosted in the hotel’s grand foyer.
Guests were invited to sample food from 12 recognized chefs including chef Ted Reader from Ted’s Famous BBQ, chef Matt Basile from Fidel Gastro’s and Fairmont Royal York’s very own chef jW Foster.
Wine was provided by Niagara College’s Teaching Winery and an extravagant cheese plate was provided by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, curated and presented by Quality Cheese Breads from Forno Cultura.
For more information and the full list of winners visit tastecanada.org