Shining a Light on Canadian Cuisine

Outside of August, this is the most exciting time of year for Food Day Canada.  It is just such fun! And once again, with the 2019 menus, the bar has been raised by the chefs of Canada in the annual University of Guelph Good Food Innovation Awards. The calibre of this year’s offerings was absolutely outstanding!  The depth and breath of our chefs’ commitment to the producers and processors of Canada was the finest ever.  In support of them we managed to illuminate 25 locations in praise of Canadian cuisine including Niagara Falls and the CN Tower. It was no small feat and we intend on doing it again. 

What pleases us so much is how many new Gold Award winners there are this year, men and women who can stand on any culinary stage in the world and how many others are returning.  The reach of Food Day Canada is expanding and it seems that, if a restaurant is to be truly competitive, it needs to honour local ingredients and the producers who grow and harvest them!

The new members of this elite group join many veterans who’ve made top notch local offerings the cornerstone of their menus.  All the categories are filled with culinary game-changers.  Check the links to each menu and then challenge anyone who says Canada does not have it’s own vibrant food scene.  We rock! 

GOLD AWARDS

These are our premier awards.  The University of Guelph and President/Vice-Chancellor Dr. Franco Vaccarino annually host the new winners, showcasing the highlights of the culinary research that positions the school as “Canada’s Food University.”  From there, these chefs make their way to Manhattan to cook at the James Beard House, a testament to both their talent and their commitment.  The 2018 award winners will be there on May 21st, 2020. 

The first new restaurant to join this list is Pluvio from the town of Ucluelet with chef/owner Warren Barr and his co-owner Lily Verney-Downey.  Warren’s name will be familiar to most as he’s received dozens of awards for his time at both the Inn at Bay Fortune and at The Wickaninnish Inn.

A member of Relais et Châteaux  Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, is a five-star outpost near Tofino where the mantra is ‘luxury gone wild’. Chef Michael Pataran’s menu was exceptional. 

On the magnificent north coast embedded in the Great Bear Rainforest, Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort challenges its chef David Hassell and sous chef Tim Larsen, to become unbelievably resourceful.  Diving for sea urchins is not unheard of.

Terrafina the restaurant at Hester Creek Winery in Oliver is the brainchild of Kelowna’s dynamic duo, Rod Butters and Audrey Surrao. The menu was created by Chef de Cuisine James Hanna whose pan-Canadian experience has seen him in the kitchen’s of Regina’s CRAVE Restaurant, this year a Silver winner.

Hotel Arts led by Executive Chef Quinn Staple threw a huge Food Day celebration at Trail’s End Beef a multi-generational ranch in the Nanton area and one of the Hotel Arts partners.  

Rouge Restaurant and Chef Paul Rogalski have been part of Food Day Canada for years and this year it was a stellar example of Albertan ingredients. 

Winnipeg Fusion Grill  is where owner Scot McTaggart and Chef Lorna Murdoch have been sourcing from the many culinary regions in Manitoba over all the decades they’ve been in business.

Wildcraft in Waterloo, Ontario joins sister restaurant Bauer Kitchen on the Gold podium. 

Chef Marc Lyons at Queen’s Landing in Niagara on the Lake is in the heart of some of the most interesting ingredients in the country. 

Moncton is becoming a hotbed of culinary excellence and Executive Chef of the Delta Hotel and its  Windjammer Restaurant has been on the vanguard for many years.  

VETERAN GOLD INDUCTEES 2019

Wickaninnish Inn, Tofiino, diningOn Vancouver Island, Chef Ronald St. Pierre once again presented a gorgeous menu at Locals in Courtney as did Chef Carman Ingrham at The Wickaninnish’s (magical) Pointe Restaurant

Chef & Forager Aman Dosanj’s pop up restaurant Paisley Notebook used 100% ingredients from Canada.  Few chefs have her determination or dedication. 

Back again this year in Whistler  there’s Top Table’s  Araxi  where Chef James Walt works his magic and Fairmont Chateau Whistler where Chef Derek Bendig held a full-on celebration of Canadian cuisine across the entire property.  The Kelowna-based restaurants RauDZ Regional Table  and Chef Mark Filatow’s Waterfront Wines Restaurant are perennial winners.   Chef Patrick Gayler of Mission Hill Family Estates Terrace Restaurant created not only one but multiple menus all, of course, paired with Mission Hill’s stellar wines. 

From Scratch, A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs now claims Gold for a second time, 

While once again in Calgary Sal Howell’s  River Cafe celebrated Food Day in style.

Abruzzi Restaurant in London with Chef /Owner Dave Lamers at the helm and Marc Lepine’s Atelier in Ottawa join the circle.  Chef/Owner Ryan Crawford (at left) of backhouse in Niagara on the Lake is where we spent last August 3rd before heading to The Falls to light them.  Jason Parsons and Peller Estates Winery Restaurant did a massive barbecue in honour of Food Day. 

In downtown Toronto Le Sélect Bistro is the traditionally elegant domaine of Executive Chef Laura Maxwell while Chef John Morris makes sure Canadian ingredients are taken to the very top of the  CN Tower & Restaurant 360’.

Veterans of Ontario’s food scene; Executive Chef Todd Clarmo and Chef Graham Pelly led Bauer Kitchen to its third win.  Few restaurants have been so immersed in the produce of Niagara as Treadwell Farm to Table Restaurant in downtown Niagara on the Lake. Once again on the Gold list as are Langdon Hall Country House Hotel(at right) Miijidaa Cafe + Bistro, and its sister restaurant  The (venerable) Wooly, an absolutely crazy-busy pub in downtown Guelph.

In Quebec, we honour Manoir Hovey’s Le Hatley Restaurant where Chef de Cuisine Alexander Vachon has taken all their menus to a new level of excellence.  Then there’s the forager/chef duo of Nancy Hinton and François Brouillard at  Les Jardins Sauvages in St. Roch de L’Achigan and Montreal’s extraordinary Taverne Monkland.  Near Ottawa in Chelsea Quebec, you’ll find the extraordinary excellence of Chefs Charles Part, Jennifer Warren-Part and Yannick LaSalle at Restaurant Les Fougères

In eastern Canada Moncton’s Little Louis’ Oyster Bar has been a leading light under the guidance of Chef Pierre Richard. His Northumberland lamb is pictured on the left.

FireWorks, by Chef Michael Smith, is also a culinary landmark on Food Day where cast iron skillets are the cooking vessels of choice.

Chef Roary MacPherson, a long time supporter and participant in Food Day has brought The Wilds Golf and Country Club in Holyrood, Newfoundland on board with his down home country menu.

SILVER AWARDS 2019

Chef Lee Cooper of L’Abattoir and Chef Andrea Carlson of Burdock  join fellow Vancouverite, Chef Welbert Choi who won double Silver with offerings from both Forage and TimberBlue Hat Bistro the largely student-run restaurant in the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts stepped onto the podium.  Vancouver’s Dosanko does a stellar job of blending Japanese flavours with B.C.’s best ingredients including a delightful flight of local sakes.

Two Calgary restaurants won Silver…first time participant Chef Roy Oh of ANJU and the team at Teatro ably led by Chef Matthew Batey and his Chef de Cuisine Daniel Pizarro.  Still on the Prairies, Crave Kitchen and Wine Bar’s Chef Jonathan Thauberger from Regina has always believed in the ingredients of his region and will be joining Canada’s Culinary Olympic Team later this year.

The Neighbourhood Group restaurant Borealis Kitchener has casual, fun dining much like Niagara on the Lake’s Garrison House.  Also in the Niagara region is Taris On The Water in Welland with it’s stunning canal-side dining space. Chef Upper’s over the top onion soup’s pictured at right. 

First time entrant, The Elora Mill Inn pulled off a great menu in spite of being so overwhelmed with summer in the tiny tourist town.

Fauna Restaurant in Ottawa and GEORGE in Toronto rounded off the Ontario awards while Nova Scotia’s Founders House Dining and Drinks is a new participant in Food Day.  Chef Chris Pyne has also been dubbed one of Canada’s top up and coming chefs by the Globe and Mail.

Fogo Island Inn and Executive Chef Jonathan Gushue are known globally as a game-changer for both hospitality and tourism and with Gushue in the kitchen, it’s hit its stride in culinary excellence.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS 

Spread across the nation are restaurants that deserve to be mentioned for both their philosophy and execution of Canadian cuisine – Borealis Guelph; Le Champlain Diningroom in the Chateau Frontenac and The Lobby Lounge in the opulent Fairmont Pacific Rim.

*****

Sincere thanks go to Jury Members Michael Allemeier of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology; Ross Macfarlane who heads up Les Marmitons in both Niagara and across Canada and Lynn Siegal, one of the founders and Key Account Manager/Specialty Buyer of Hilite Fine Foods Inc. in Toronto.   For their full Biographies go here.

The University of Guelph is a proud Charter Member of Food Day Canada and is Canada’s Food University.  It is ranked as Canada’s most inventive university or one of the nation’s top comprehensive universities because of their commitment to student learning and innovative research.  These Awards are sponsored by the President’s Office, the Ontario Agricultural College and the Lang School of Business. 

 

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