Vogue editor Anna Wintour once said she didn’t like retrospective magazine issues, because she preferred to look forward not backwards. But, while looking back may often seem pointless — after all, we can’t really change history — knowing where we’ve come from can only help us to better understand where we are going.
When you journey back to 1968, the year the Canadian Restaurant Association launched what was then known as the CRA magazine, and the precursor to Foodservice and Hospitality, it’s clear the foodservice industry was in its infancy. But, restaurants have been part of the Canadian landscape, in some shape or form, as far back as 100 years ago. For example, Cara Operations was born in 1883 as the Canada Railway News Co., in response to an increase in passenger railway travel. Interestingly, the term restaurant itself dates back to 16th century France, with the term derived from the word restaurer, which means “to restore.”
Still, it wasn’t until the late 1960s that restaurants became influential in Canada in terms of size and scope. Until the first McDonald’s opened its doors in Richmond, B.C., in 1967 and then in London Ont., in 1968, food eaten in restaurants was usually celebratory. The arrival of the American behemoth, and the ensuing proliferation of QSR as well as the social revolution of the 1960s, helped change that reality immeasurably and irrevocably. Suddenly restaurants became part of the everyday fabric of our lives. Now, almost half a century later, restaurants are more than just places where we celebrate special milestones but places where we drop in for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks — they’re places that form part of our community.
Today, we not only expect restaurants to be a source of food, but we want them to be our social conscience — ethically sound, environmentally friendly and health-conscious. Would we have dared imagine that reality in 1968? Then again, could we have ever predicted the new ground and vistas being explored for food in this century?
To wit, just last month, news hit from London, England that the first hamburger meat grown in a lab had been created and tested. And, regardless of the taste, it’s clear, we can expect science to further overlap with culinary art in ways never before considered.
In addition to this month’s journey back through the past four decades, F&H also takes a look at the 50-year history of the Canadian Culinary Federation, the association of chefs, which was born a mere five years earlier than our magazine.
So, yes, while looking back may be an exercise in nostalgia, it’s also a lesson in how much the industry has grown and matured, evolving in ways that will continue to impact us in the future.