When I first conceived of the Canadian Chefs’ Congress, I imagined a biennial event that would bring together chefs, winemakers, growers, farmers, fishers, foragers and artisanal food producers from across Canada to celebrate our unique food culture in a setting that would encourage both discussion and debate as well as the building of new relationships. There have been two congresses so far. The first,in September 2008, was at Eigensinn Farm, my farm in Singhampton, Ontario, where the theme was genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We had about 500 people in attendance including participating chefs, sponsors and volunteers.
The second congress took place in the beautiful Cowichan Valley in Duncan, British Columbia, again with roughly 500 people in attendance. This congress focused on the sustainability of our oceans and was organized at the provincial level by Chefs Robert Clark (C Restaurant, Vancouver) and Vikram Vij (Vijs, Vancouver). Participants were educated on emerging issues and about what could be done to help heal our oceans.
This coming September 16-18, 2012, the third congress will take place in Nova Scotia at the Land of Evangeline Campground in Grand Pré near Wolfville and will be organized at the provincial level by a committee led by Chef Craig Flinn of Chives Canadian Bistro in Halifax. The National Steering Committee will work collaboratively with the provincial committee. This congress will focus on the importance and struggle of the family farm in Canada and the rich culinary history and influence of Acadian culture in Canada and the world.
I am very excited about meeting my colleagues on the east coast of our country this year. While the Canadian Chefs’ Congress is still in its infancy, it is my hope that with each gathering it continues to grow and that we all continue to learn, share, make good connections, meet new friends, nourish and grow the Canadian chefs’ community for a stronger food culture in Canada.
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