Chef Michael Stadtländer
Eigensinn Farm / Haisai Restaurant & Bakery
President and Founder, Canadian Chefs’ Congress
Born in Germany, Michael Stadtländer began his professional culinary training while still a teenager. After immigrating to Canada in 1980, he and colleague Jamie Kennedy made their mark on the Toronto restaurant scene at Scaramouche. As Chef at the world-renowned Sooke Harbour House, and at his pioneering Stadtländer’s and Nekah in Toronto, he continued his unique and innovative approach, working to elevate Canadian food culture. Together with Jamie Kennedy, Michael founded Feast of Fields in Ontario which has since grown to become an annual nationwide event. In 1993, Stadtländer and his family moved to a 100-acre farm near Collingwood, at the top of Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, where they could live on the land. For several nights a week throughout the year, the Stadtländers welcome guests to their home to enjoy his food. Eigensinn Farm has become an internationally celebrated destination for gourmets. In 2002 Eigensinn Farm was rated one of the top ten restaurants in the world by UK based Restaurant Magazine.
Michael is regularly called upon to speak or be a part of different conferences. In 2003 Michael was asked to be the presenter of Idea City, ‘Canada’s Premier Meeting of the Minds’ produced by Moses Znaimer. In 2010 he was the keynote speaker at the New York Farmer Chef Conference in Rochester, NY.
Michael Stadtlander’s projects include Eigensinn Farm: The Heaven on Earth Project which was a summer-long project that included a crew of apprentices from three continents who together built monumental sculptures to accompany a series of ten course meals served on the farm through the month of August 2005; and The Islands Project which featured seven dinners on four B.C. islands where he was joined by chefs, artists, farmers, oyster cultivators, environmentalists and loggers during the summer of 2006. Both projects culminated with the publishing of a book and the Islands Project with a DVD that had its premiere at Toronto’s Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival in November 2007.
Stadtländer is actively committed to promoting sustainable food and has been recognized for his achievements in support of organic food and localism by the Canadian Organic Growers with the 2007 Organic Food Hero Award, Earth Day Canada’s 2007 Environmental Achievement Award and most recently in 2010 received the Governor General’s Award for Leadership – recognizing those who have led their peers, colleagues and fellow citizens to build stronger communities connected to the nation’s table in all its aspects.
In 2009, Michael and his wife Nobuyo, opened Haisai Restaurant and Bakery in Singhampton, Ontario. Haisai is an extension of Eigensinn Farm’s philosophies and practices using locally raised and foraged ingredients. Haisai was nominated and awarded top new restaurant in Canada by Enroute Magazine and top new restaurant by Toronto Life Magazine in 2010.
In 2008 Michael founded the Canadian Chefs’ Congress. Michael’s vision is to connect chefs to our land in solidarity with farmers, fishers, gardeners, foragers and all artisanal food producers.This biennial gathering of chefs from across Canada reinforces the passion and integrity of Canadian food culture.
Most recently, in October 2011 the Canadian Chefs’ Congress presented Foodstock, the largest culinary protest in the history of Canada, to protest a proposed Mega Quarry in Melancthon Township. This event, held in a farmer’s field an hour and a half north of Toronto drew 28,000 people to protest the quarry while sampling dishes prepared by 100 chefs and listening to music by musicians such as Blue Rodeo, Sarah Harmer, Ron Sexsmith and Hayden. In media terms Foodstock and the Canadian Chefs’ Congress attracted 18 million online media hits. Hills of Headwaters Tourism Association awarded Michael with two awards for Foodstock: First for Best Agri-Tourism Experience and Best Culinary Tourism Experience! In addition the Canadian Association of Food Service Professionals awarded Michael with Restaurateur of the year at an award ceremony in January. They said that this award is long overdue and is in recognition of Michael’s role in developing and maintaining exceptional standards, his passion for the industry and for his community involvement in events such as Foodstock.
The rest of the National Steering Committee is comprised of Nobuyo Stadtländer (Eigensinn Farm / Haisai); Adam Colquhoun (Oyster Boy); and Julie Gibb and Christian Morrison (Pantry Press Inc.). The National Steering Committee of the Canadian Chefs’ Congress maintains the fundraising, administrative and promotional activities on a volunteer and donated basis. The National Steering Committee provides direction and arms length support to its Provincial counterparts. Together for the inaugural Ontario Congress in 2008 this small group (including Chef Michael Dixon) with varied professional backgrounds was able to pull together an event of over 500 people in only 4 months. This experience formed the template for future congresses which will evolve and only become stronger with time.
Nobuyo Stadtländer, Eigensinn Farm and Haisai Restaurant and Bakery: Vice President
Born in Okinawa, Japan Nobuyo immigrated to Canada in 1989. Soon after her arrival in Canada she met Michael Stadtländer. Nobuyo Stadtländer co-owns Eigensinn Farm and Haisai with her husband Michael. Michael would agree that behind every great man is a great woman — the visionary benefits from his wife’s foresight and planning to make the dreams become reality. She is the CEO, the host, the mother, the chief cook and the face of Eigensinn Farm.
Nobuyo oversees staffing and logistics for Canadian Chefs’ Congress events. Among Nobuyo’s many talents she is a big picture person when the rest of the committee are too wrapped up with specifics. In addition, public relations is her strong suit.
Adam Colquhoun, Oyster Boy: Cheerleader and 2012 Master of Ceremonies
Adam Colquhoun is the owner, operator and the “boy” behind Oyster Boy, a restaurant, catering and wholesale company dedicated to bringing mollusks to the masses. Adam’s roots trace back not to the seashore, but to the Uxbridge, Ontario countryside. Working on a mixed farm and later at a local restaurant, Adam became fascinated with both good food and the people who produce it.
Adam was introduced to oysters in the 1980s when a friend taught him how to shuck. He soon mastered the art, earning the Ontario Oyster Shucking Championship title three times and the moniker “oyster boy”. In 1992, Adam launched Oyster Boy catering and wholesale service. By bringing choice mollusks from Canada’s oyster producing provinces to the city, Oyster Boy built a loyal following with oyster connoisseurs and Toronto’s top chefs.
Oyster Boy’s popularity grew and in 2001, Adam opened the Oyster Boy restaurant on Queen Street West. Driven by the philosophy that a business’ most important resources are human resources, Oyster Boy has been home to some of the top shuckers in Canada (including the Canadian Oyster Shucking Champion) who shuck up to a thousand tasty bivalves to patrons every evening.
Adam has spearheaded numerous programs to promote the Canadian shellfish industry, from introducing B.C. oysters to Toronto to launching Shuck U, an interactive educational program that teaches participants how to choose, shuck and serve oysters.
Adam serves on the steering committee of the Toronto Slow Food Convivium and he also sits on the Editorial Advisory Council for the Ontario Restaurant News.
Adam brings an enthusiasm, a levity when required, generosity and a big heart to the congress. In 2008 he contributed and executed a spectacular fireworks display. 2012 will be his inaugural gig as master of ceremonies of the congress.
Julie Gibb and Christian Morrison, Pantry Press Inc.: Vice Presidents
Julie Gibb and Christian Morrison are graphic designers first and custom letterpress printers second. They started their design firm in 1990, specializing in art books for Museums and Art Galleries, for which they won several awards. They have always loved the tactile quality of letterpress printing. They purchased their first letterpress in 1994 and put it in the pantry of their home. It is here that Pantry Press was born. They quickly began designing and printing stationery of all kinds and have continued to keep the art of letterpress alive for the past 18 years. Some of the first stationery they designed and printed on this press was for Eigensinn Farm.
In 2006, Morrison and Gibb worked collaboratively with Michael and Nobuyo Stadtländer, and designed and art directed the Eigensinn Farm Heaven on Earth book project. In 2007, they worked together again to design the packaging and accompanying book to the Islands Project documentary DVD – filmed by their son Elia.
In 2008, their long-time friend Michael Stadtländer asked them to be a part of the congress steering committee knowing that they had skills that others on the committee did not. Four years and thousands of volunteered hours later they wear many hats and are drawn into an ever increasing number of their friend’s dreams. They have had the good fortune to meet a growing array of chefs, farmers, fishers and food industry professionals and as a result are very well fed.
The Canadian Chefs’ Congress advisory board includes the following:
Chef John Higgins, George Brown Chef School; Chef Anthony Walsh, Canoe Restaurant; Chef Anthony Rose, Drake Hotel; Chef Amanda Ray, Canoe Restaurant; Rebecca LeHeup, Ontario Culinary Tourism; Daniel Gutter, TBD; Chef Paul Boehmer, Böhmer Restaurant
This post is also available in: French