Terroir Symposium Trumpets Value of Collaborative Culinary Innovations


TORONTO — Toronto’s Arcadian Court was home to more than 600 culinary minds, who gathered yesterday to hear more than 65 speakers at the 8th annual Terroir Hospitality Industry Symposium, which celebrated “community building” and “creative collaboration.”

“In Canada, particularly Ontario, globalization has changed the playing field,” began Peter Oliver, partner of Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants in Toronto, who welcomed guests to the O&B-managed event venue, following an introduction by program chair, Arlene Stein. “We have to entrepreneur out way out … We have to innovate our way to the future.”

And, ideas about how to put that thought into action permeated the day. To start, Krystina Roman who works in the sales and marketing department and tends the bees at Rosewood Estates Winery in Beamsville, Ont., spoke of the value of collaboration, while discussing her family’s 80-year-old beekeeping business. “Bees can’t talk, but they work together to create honey,” she said, later adding: “We have to know our role and how it contributes to our organization.”

Building a good team is essential to success, so Jill McAbe, a certified executive coach, specializing in leadership and organizational development at the Restaurant MGMT Academy, took to the stage to share tips for building a united front. “If you want to be part of a good team, you must be part of a team you can commit to,” she began. “Team members don’t always need to get along, but they need to demonstrate respect.” She added: “Think of one way your team could be better and take action on it.”

That’s exactly, what Brandon Baltzley (pictured) did. The proprietor and chef of Indiana’s TMIP Restaurant at Exterior Farm and founder of CRUX, a “nomadic culinary collective,” captivated the crowd with his honest biography. He recounted his rise through the ranks of mismanaged kitchens to leading his own unhappy kitchen to his journey through top-notch kitchens such as Chicago’s renowned Alinea, where he confessed to struggling with the hierarchy. Later, as he moved on, he struggled to find his sense of place. “I felt like Stella trying to get her groove back and that groove never came,” he said, of the journey, which eventually led him to create CRUX, the collaborative that now prepares dinners across Canada and the U.S. Today, he’s excited about TMIP, which translates to “most important part.” He sums it up: “There’s no way to determine the most important part and that is a true collaboration.”

The morning continued, with a series of discussions about creative collaborations, from a look at the Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance’s Alberta Ate chef’s group to a look at VisitSweden’s marketing plan to encourage homeowners to open their home as a “restaurant” for tourists to actor and social entrepreneur Shaun Majumder’s plan to create a culinary destination in his sleepy hometown of Burlington, N.L.

Majumder’s journey was born out of “love of place” for a previously bustling town, which he loved to visit. After the government rejected the actor’s plan to build a $2.6-million luxury hotel, he began to open “social businesses” that fed money back into the community with the goal of building a tourist destination in the region. So far, he’s built a greenhouse, created “The Gathering” food festival (which attracted 18,000 to the town of 350 people) and is continuing to raise awareness through his reality show, Majumder Manor, which begins its second season on the W Network in July. “I want to take this idea of a small town and look at it through a different lens,” explains Majumder. And, that perspective was one shared by many of the chefs, cooks and foodies gathered at Terroir where innovation through collaboration was omnipresent.

Part two of the Terroir Hospitality Industry Symposiumseries will be posted on foodserviceandhospitality.com this week.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.