By Rosanna Caira
TORONTO — Just in time to celebrate Canada’s 150th, the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (CHCA) at George Brown College has launched Canadian Treasures, an initiative to spotlight the accomplishments of culinary, hospitality and tourism trailblazers across Canada.
“There’s never been a better time to praise and celebrate Canada,” Lorraine Trotter, dean, CHCA, George Brown College told an audience representing Toronto’s food community. “With 21,000 alumni we are blessed with connections to leaders in the industry. We’ve leveraged our knowledge to identify innovators who deserve to be highlighted,”
As Canadians mark the nation’s 150th anniversary, Canadian Treasures will likewise celebrate by honouring distinguished organizations in the areas of food, beverage, hospitality, accommodation and tourism. The initiative highlights the critical role these organizations play as best-in-class leaders, in showcasing the best qualities of their regions and in advancing local economic and cultural development.
The first instalment of honorees were fệted at the Chef’s House on June 8. The trio of achievers includes food activist Anita Stewart, creator of Food Day Canada; winemaker Norman Hardie of Norman Hardie Winery in Prince Edward Country; and film producer Michael Howell, producer of the Devour Film Festival.
In accepting the distinction, Stewart said she was motivated by a disconnected nation to promote Canadian products and to have people taste the fruits of their passion. Stewart is the founder of Food Day Canada, a day for Canadians from coast to coast to celebrate Canada’s food bounty, at a time of the year when the harvest is at its peak.
On the wine front, Hardie thanked GBC for honouring his work, “GBC played a huge part in giving me a foundation,” said Hardie, who told the crowd that though he’s worked in other wine areas such as California and Australia, he wanted to return to Canada to promote Ontario terroir. “The best terroir has yet to be discovered,” he said, adding “any greatness happens on the edge. We can and we will continue to make the great new wines. As a winemaker in Southern Ontario, I feel very privileged to grow and make wines here from our magnificent terroir. My mission, with each vintage, is to craft wines that realize and reflect the greatness of our soils without ever compromising quality,” said Hardie.
Rounding out the first instalment of treasures is Michael Howell, founder of Devour! The Food Film Festival, which highlights movies with a central food theme. Howell launched the film festival as a way to draw more tourists to the sleepy town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where he formerly owned a restaurant called the Tempest. In launching the film festival, which has grown significantly in the last few years, Howell is credited with helping to stimulate tourism to the region, with more than 10,000 visitors now descending on the sleepy east-coast town during the shoulder season.
“Canadian Treasures celebrates those innovators who make a real difference in terms of building great businesses and delivering culinary, hospitality and tourism experiences that help their regions become prime destinations,” said Trotter. “We hope that by highlighting Canada’s culinary, hospitality and tourism gems, we will demonstrate the many great features of this industry to Canadians and to tourists worldwide.”
As an ongoing, inclusive and non-competitive program, Canadian Treasures will continue to commend notable hospitality and tourism organizations into 2018 and beyond. Four to six high-performing organizations — such as restaurants, farmers and food providers, accommodation properties, brewers and vineyards, tourist attractions, festivals and vacation spots — will be recognized annually. CHCA will hold a range of celebratory events including tours of the organizations’ operations, Chefs’ House events, student study tours, food and beverage tastings and culinary workshops.