Pays Tribute to OAC
Author's food links with University of Guelph
date back two decades
For Canadian "culinary activist" Anita
Stewart, U of G is a rich smorgasbord of food innovation
and inspiration. And she gives the University due recognition
for its contributions to Ontario's - and Canada's - food
heritage in her latest book, Flavours of Canada: A Celebration
of the Finest Regional Food.
The book, published last year, recently won two awards
in the fourth annual Cuisine Canada National Culinary Book
Awards - a gold for its contribution to Canadian food culture
and a bronze in the English-language cookbook category.
The culmination of nearly two decades of Stewart's culinary
travels, Flavours of Canada lovingly details unique
regional specialties from coast to coast. Its 150 recipes
are accompanied and enhanced by descriptions of each province's
culinary character and history. Stewart tells the stories
of the researchers, farmers, producers, artisans, chefs
and winemakers who contribute to our collective gastronomic
The Ontario chapter lauds the Ontario Agricultural College
research programs for introducing strains of grains, fruits
and vegetables that contribute to the province's food-and-drink
mosaic, including the college's own beer from a famous strain
of barley developed in 1910.
"From ice cream and cheese making to plant breeding
and farm management, the University can claim dozens of
success stories," Stewart writes.
Her connection with U of G dates back two decades, to the
early 1980s when she took a course on the history of food
with HAFA professor Jo Marie Powers, who is now retired.
Powers suggested they write a cookbook together about Ontario
farmers' markets, and the two embarked on a friendship and
creative relationship that has lasted for years.
Thirteen books later, Stewart is considered one of Canada's
foremost food journalists. She is also the founder of Cuisine
Canada, the only alliance of its kind linking people in
the food industry, from farmers and nutritionists to chefs
and restaurateurs. Its mission is to raise awareness of,
and pride in, Canada's culinary uniqueness - a cause she
is passionately committed to.
Her passion and creative drive have also spawned other
projects in celebration of the University's agricultural
Stewart worked with the Office of Research to publish the
U of G Food Inventory in 2000, which tells the story of
Guelph researchers and their creations. She is now working
with Profs. Michael Haywood and Joe Barth, HAFA, to develop
a proposal to create a chair at Guelph that will focus on
culinary tourism and regional economic development, a first
in North America.
Stewart also crafts menus showcasing Guelph's agri-food
research achievements for major events such as OAC's 125th-anniversary
celebration, the opening of the Food Science Building and
this year's President's Luncheon for University supporters.
"She's a wonderful champion for the University and
the research we do here," says Prof. Rob McLaughlin,
vice-president (alumni affairs and development) and former
dean of OAC. He notes that Stewart's activism extends beyond
promoting distinctly Canadian recipes to promoting the Canadian
ingredients that make those recipes special. "It's
a celebration of Canadian agri-food."
Most recently, Stewart has teamed up with the executive
chef at Toronto's Royal York Hotel to incorporate U of G
foods into the menu for chancellor Lincoln Alexander's 80th-birthday
tribute dinner Dec. 13.
"The ingredients for this occasion have been grown
and harvested from across Ontario for the express purpose
of paying tribute to Lincoln Alexander," says Stewart.
The dinner will include such delicacies as smoked "cyber-tomato"
chutney with tomatoes grown from seeds that have orbited
the Earth, OAC Millennium asparagus and beef tenderloin
with OAC Gold beer sauce.
Like all Stewart's other projects, the meal will celebrate
distinctive and delicious food while honouring the people
who have worked to produce it. These feasts "make the
connection between what's on our plate and who's done it
for us," she says.