Arms Bumanlag and Adriano Ciotoli chowing down on the CTV Windsor rooftop
Arms Bumanlag and Adriano Ciotoli chowing down on the CTV Windsor rooftop

2014 was such a fantastic year, full of great events and amazing milestones for food and drink in our region. We’ve been so lucky to be at the forefront of a wonderful movement in our city that embraces our culinary culture and celebrates it. Lots happened. Let’s recap, shall we?

  • Truckin’ Good Eats made it’s inaugural debut in September, officially bringing Windsor Essex into the food truck scene.
  • The Drinks of Walkerville Walking Tour was selected as an Ontario Signature Experience. This is huge for our area as the province will now promote this tour on a global scale to tourists visiting Ontario.
  • Our partnership with CTV brings local restaurants to the screen each week and gives us a chance to highlight great eateries in the city. It’s great to see this segment growing in popularity and we love the feedback we get from those that watch.
  • The Windsor Craft Beer Festival expanded by adding new vendors to it’s lineup and even had a waiting list of craft brewers wanting to be a part of a great event.

Now let’s look ahead!

2015 promises to be another exciting year in Windsor Essex for food and drink. Who would have thought that 11 years ago, when we started WindsorEats that we would see our efforts develop this region as a culinary tourism destination. It’s been a crazy ride and we’ve loved every minute of it!

Back in November we spoke to a class of entrepreneurs at the University of Windsor who are on the cusp of opening their own business. One of the questions asked was “What new food trends do you see happening in the next year?”

Great question! After some thought here’s our list of top 5 food trends we think hit Windsor Essex this year.

1. The Growth of ‘Craft’

Our Adriano crafting up a cocktail for CTV Windsor
Our Adriano crafting up a cocktail for CTV Windsor

Craft beer had a great year in Windsor-Essex. Along with pioneers Motor Craft Ales and Walkerville Brewery, we added two new breweries to the craft beer scene, Brew and Banded Goose, with another one just about to make a splash, Craft Heads.

But the craft culture doesn’t end with beer. We’re noticing a resurgence of the craft cocktails in a few places around town. This movement has been developing in other larger cities for a few years including our neighbours to the north. The Sugar House in Detroit is a great example of a locale that does craft cocktails to the nines.  With drinks like Bee’s Knees, Queen’s Park Swizzle and Hanky Panky, house made syrups, juices, seasonal drinks, and bartenders that will wow you with their extensive knowledge of libations, having a drink in this the pre-prohibition era style establishment makes for an exceptional experience in the D.

We are only now seeing this trend making it’s debut in Windsor-Essex.  A great example of this is The Willistead. Take a seat at the bar and order a cocktail made with house made syrups. Also, one of their bartenders recently won a Canadian Club craft cocktail competition. Not too shabby!

While there are rumours abound that a craft distillery is being planned for the region, the craft or artisanal movement doesn’t stop at drinks and libations. We’re hearing more items like charcuterie and pasta will be getting the craft treatment in Windsor-Essex in 2015.

2. Rise of the Home Based Business

Michele Bowman of The Little White Kitchen Baking Co.
Michele Bowman of The Little White Kitchen Baking Co.

Michelle Bowman of The Little White Kitchen has been baking gluten free products from her home. This year will see her making the leap into a brick and mortar shop in Ford City. She is just one of many examples of food entrepreneurs taking the leap into growing their business

The Downtown Windsor Farmers Market has become a successful incubator and testing ground for many people looking to start food based businesses. Over the last couple years we have seen a growing number of those businesses get a head start from being at the market, The Little White Kitchen mentioned above being one.

The development and growth of these seedling businesses is exciting for so many reasons. The most important is this: people are taking chances. They are making a commitment to our city by taking a risk and opening up a new business and adding the diversity of our culinary landscape How awesome is that??

Also, not to give too much away, this year you’ll also be seeing WindsorEats initiate a project to support those looking to start a small food and drink based business and help build them up. Vague mention? Yes. Exciting? Oh boy, is it ever!

3. Sharing

Snack Test Day - 216
The more you share the more you care!

Since it’s demise during the recession, fine dining has not made a significant comeback in Windsor Essex. Instead, in its place we have eateries that are specializing in small plates that are meant to be shared. Snackbar-B-Q is a perfect example of this growing trend. It’s always been about quality, not quantity for me so I’m particularly fond of this trend. I love being able to take a bite out of a variety of dishes and get a sense of what a restaurant is capable of.

4. Truck Yeah!

Truckin' good food!
Truckin’ good food!

2014 saw WindsorEats bring food trucks to the forefront in Windsor-Essex with our wildly successful Truckin’ Good Food Rally and they’ll be at the forefront of the food and drink scene in the region for this next year.

WindsorEats will be entrenching trucks into our food and drink culture with the Truckin’ Good Food Series, a monthly celebration of food trucks to be held at various locations throughout Windsor-Essex each month. You’ll be able to taste the creations of local trucks Road Chef, Tutti Mangia and more.

Behind the scenes, we’re still working hard to get the by-laws changed in Windsor and make the city a true culinary destination. If you haven’t yet, sign our petition.

5. Pop-Ups

Wine Trail Ride cycling tour guests enjoy a long table dinner
Cheers to good times in unique places

They’ve been popular in cities across the world for years now, and we expect the trend to finally happen in Windsor-Essex in 2015. Word on the street is that there are a few ideas brewing out there that could see pop ups becoming a regular occurrence in the area. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and support them when they do so more happen as they’ll make our city even more awesome and tastier than it already is.

So there you have it! Every year keeps getting better and better for the food scene in Windsor Essex and this year will prove no different. We are so thrilled to be at the forefront of that scene and are just about burst with excitement as we watch it grow and flourish.

We plan to make a few changes of our own this year at WindsorEats and we hope you join us for the ride!