Food Day Canada takes place today (Saturday, Aug. 3), a national day to celebrate all those who are active in celebrating, producing, and growing Canada’s amazing local food.
Food Day Canada was started in 2003 by food activist and author Anita Stewart.
At the time it was billed as The World’s Longest Barbecue, a massive, Canada-wide response to the sanction of Canadian beef exports by our largest trading partner and the dramatic hardship it imposed on our agricultural community.
The WLBBQ was a huge success and has evolved into Food Day Canada, now an annual mid-summer celebration, always held on the Saturday of the August long weekend.
This weekend, Stewart will mark the occasion with a visit to the Central Okanagan.
This morning, Stewart was at the Kelowna Farmer’s Market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and she will be a special guest at a four-course dinner hosted by the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery later this evening.
“It’s a great opportunity for us here to have someone of Anita Stewart’s status, the person who created National Food Day, pick here out of anywhere in Canada to celebrate that day this year,” said Mission Hill executive winery chef Matthew Batey.
Stewart has succeeded in mobilizing farmers, chefs, home cooks, and foodies across this country who have joined her in putting on their own celebrations and festivities around food on Food Day Canada each year. It’s quite an accomplishment on her part.
At the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market, Stewart joined some of the top chefs in the Okanagan to illustrate how we have access to the same wonderful ingredients grown locally that the restaurant chefs also take advantage of.
Each chef was paired with a farmer at an info table at the farmer’s market to chat with local home cooks about how to prepare ingredients and make their own home-based celebrations on Food Day Canada.
Not only are people encouraged to create their own spread from produce purchased at farmers markets, but they are also able to dine at any of the about 275 restaurants from across the country that are participating this Saturday with menus featuring uniquely Canadian ingredients.
Stewart, who has worked tirelessly to promote Canadian food culture, earning her an appointment as a member of the Order of Canada and a two-year stint as the University of Guelph’s honorary food ambassador, hopes people will post their menus and describe their plans on the Food Day Canada website. There are plenty of recipes there too for inspiration.
An interactive map includes the locations of farmers markets and Food Day restaurants across the country “so it should be a guide of how to eat Canadian,” she explained.
The idea is you can go and buy your good stuff here and here are the restaurants where you too can go and eat, she said.
“I’ve got a really serious list of A restaurants across the country. I can’t believe it. It’s fantastic, it really is,” Stewart said.
“This is finally the year I don’t really have to explain myself and restaurants are saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard about it and we’d be really happy to participate.”
The Mission Hill dinner is being billed as southern-style BBQ “meats” wine country elegance.
Batey will welcome Mission Hill’s alumnus chef Michael Allemeier, back to the winery for the first time in four years to collaborate on the dining menu.
The evening will begin in the Varietal Garden with a canapé reception followed by a four-course elegant al fresco BBQ dining experience on the Loggia overlooking lush vineyards and the scenic Okanagan Lake.