TORONTO — Thousands of local-food supporters, and more than 200 chefs, attended Soupstock at Woodbine Park in Toronto yesterday to raise funds to stop the Highland Companies mega-quarry from being built on rich Ontario farmland.
Chief organizer, Michael Stadtländer, of the Canadian Chefs Congress, is happy with the turnout. “Each chef served about 2,000 portions, times 200 chefs — that’s a lot of soup to sell,” he said.
Toronto chef Susur Lee, whose brigade cooked 200 litres of hot-and-sour soup, was proud to be involved. “The spirit of the people here — they all feel the same. The land has great nutrients for plants, and if you take that away you’re just killing the community.”
Stadtländer broke it down. “The land grows approximately 20 pounds of potatoes for every Torontonian, that’s a lot of potatoes. Losing that land for all kinds of other vegetables would be a disaster,” said the chef of the proposed quarry, funded by the Boston-based Baupost Group.
Meanwhile, Richard Garcia, a Boston-based executive chef, and leader of the Boston Chefs Collaborative, felt compelled to attend. “I did my research and found it’s something I’d support if it was happening in Boston,” said Garcia. “People have farmed this land — some of them for over 300 years. We can’t take that away from them.”
The American chef is also keen to draw attention to the Baupost Group’s business activities.
“Believe it or not, the Harvard University endowment fund — a lot of their money is invested in Baupost. I’m going to at least try to get the word to Harvard and let them know where their money is going,” he said.
David Suzuki, whose foundation supports the cause, is hopeful the event will spur change. “Once 30- or 40-thousand people show up, government and industry must take notice. Things really start to happen. We are hopeful Soupstock will propel the movement to stop the Highland mega quarry,” he said.
Photo by Laura Bombier Photography