KELOWNA, B.C. — As thousands of Canadians gathered to celebrate Food Day Canada last weekend, it’s founder, Anita Stewart, was feted in a personal video tribute featuring 24 Canadian chefs and foodservice leaders who recognized her contributions to Canadian cuisine.
The presentation was part of a 10-year anniversary celebration of Food Day Canada organized by chef Matthew Batey at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, West Kelowna, B.C. It was one of 280 Food Day Canada activities held by restaurants, hotels and community groups across Canada.
“[This event] offered the community of Canadian chefs an opportunity to honour Anita and her tireless, selfless contribution to our national culinary identity,” said chef Michael Smith, co-organizer. Each contributor to the cross-country presentation tribute prepared a 20- to 30-second video clips, which were edited by Smith’s staff in P.E.I. “What an email list,” commented Stewart when presented with the list of participants. “I was, for once, speechless. Thank you very, very much to everyone who made this wonderful video happen; I will treasure it forever.”
Food Day Canada morphed out of Anita Stewart’s ‘World’s Longest Barbeque’ effort, which supported the Canadian beef industry as it was devastated 10 years ago by the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE, mad-cow crisis. At the time, beef consumption had declined substantially, threatening the livelihood of many farmers, processors and others in the supply chain. And, subsequently, the project became Food Day Canada, an annual event to be held over the Aug. 1 long weekend.
“As far as Food Day Canada  goes, we trended in major cities all across Canada, starting on Thursday,” reported Stewart. “This says a lot about the power of social media and of how the message resonates.”
With some 14 published cookbooks since 1974, the successful author has become a champion for regional Canadian cuisine. She has received many accolades and achieved two high honours: she was awarded the Order of Canada in 2012 and, this year, she was named the first Food Laureate at the University of Guelph.