On the weekend, I headed up the road to the t.dot with Izabella of County Connect for the Ontario Culinary Tourism Summit.
It is so inspiring to hear what other regions and counties are doing to celebrate agriculture and culinary tourism in their communities. It wasn’t the content of what was being discussed that got me excited, but rather hearing the passion in people’s voices as they talk about their farmers, restaurants and culinary events.
My favourite part? It had to be listening to Chef Michael Smith from the Food Networks Chef at Home, talk about his love of where he lives and all the great culinary experiences he has within his own community.
Of course since this was a culinary summit, all the food that was served throughout the day was from across Ontario. It was a celebration of all the wonderful chefs, restaurants, farms, wineries, breweries, and everything in between that is grown, produced and prepared in our province.
One of the media panelists, journalist Randall Shirley, did an awesome job in capturing his “five favs” of the summit.
Although we were the lone representives for Windsor/Essex’s culinary scene, we made sure people knew we were there. To make a great day even better, I won a bucket of Ontario Craft Beers to take home with me!
So what do you take away from a summit like this one? Well, I acknowledge that Windsor/Essex may not be as ahead of the culinary tourism game as a region like Prince Edward County or Perth County, but I know that we are making gains.
Six years ago, when Adriano started WindsorEats, we had a difficult time explaining to restaurants and people in general that there was something special about the place we lived in. The words “culinary tourism” hadn’t entered people’s vocabulary just yet and some didn’t understand the value of having a culinary guide or why we were so obsessed about our restaurants, wineries and farms.
But here we are, six years later and culinary tourism and the local food movement is a growing force and people are now beginning to understand it’s importance. It’s taking time, but the seeds have been planted and soon enough Windsor and Essex County are going to be THE culinary destination of Ontario. You just wait and see 🙂