The New Radicals theme speaks to a new generation of chefs reinventing the industry by leading change and innovation. “Ours is really the most exciting industry in the world…. There is no limit to what you can do with food,” said Peter Oliver, partner of Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants, upon welcoming guests to Arcadian Court, the company’s new joint-venture project.
But, the day wasn’t just about the Toronto culinary scene. Oliver’s welcome led into a series of general session speeches from foodservice “radicals” from across the globe, including Ken Friedman of New York City’s famed Spotted Pig restaurant (among others); Max Rimaldi of Toronto’s Libretto Restaurant Group; chef Connie DeSousa of Top Chef Canada and Calgary’s Charcut Roast House; and chef Ben Shewry of Australia’s Attica, among others.
Chef Michael Stadtländer discussed the success of his recent Foodstock event that protested the building of a mega-quarry on prime farmland north of Ontario. He stressed the importance of preserving our future food system. It’s a truth that hit home when Tama Matsuoka Wong, author and forager for renowned chef Daniel Boulud, reminded the crowd of the UN report that claims our food supply may drop significantly by 2050. “It’s really fragile, our food system,” she said, explaining how foraging for food is one solution that’s as easy as exploring your own backyard.
The sustainability of the food system was a theme of the day as chef Barton Seaver, author of For Cod and Country and National Geographic fellow, captivated the audience with his passionate speech about the underlying issues of seafood sustainability. “Chefs have the power to destroy,” he said, before later adding: “Doesn’st it also serve that we have the power to restore?” He stressed the importance of talking about tough issues. “Let’s make our menus reflect that we have more to say,” about how we contribute to the dialogue about sustainable eating, he said. “Sustain that, which sustains us.”
To round out the day, three foodservice workers were honoured with the inaugural Terroir Awards for Excellence in Hospitality. Ryan Crawford of Stone Road Grille, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., won in the chef category; Will Predhomme of Canoe, Toronto won in the beverage professional category; and Virgilio Vea of Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge, Ont., won in the front-of-house category.