8 Things We Learned From The 2016 Ontario Food Tourism Summit

This years Ontario Food Tourism Summit took place in the nations capital on November 21st. While we were greeted with snow and cold temperatures, everyone was fired up from the great information and positive energy in the room! 2016-11-21 09.05.48 2 We learned a lot from the awesome presenters. Here are just a few highlights:
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Sometimes, it isn’t as obvious as you think. Case in point: Bourbon Trails in Kentucky have only recently exploded. Stacey Yates, creator of the Urban Bourbon Trail in Louisville, Kentucky, shared with us the time and work it took to launch their trail. In 2007 there were only eight bourbon experiences open to the public. Today, thanks in part to their work, there are 30 with six more slated to open by 2018!
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Cheese in Oxford County is Kinda a Big Deal. Well, okay, we knew that already. What we didn’t know, however, is that Meredith Maywood of the Oxford Cheese Trail told us is that Oxford County is actually the dairy capital of CANADA. Check out what their tasty trail has to offer!
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It’s About Food in Ontario, Not Ontario Food. We had the pleasure of having JP McMahon, founder of Food on the Edge, visit us all the way from Galway, Ireland to share his story. He offered a different approach to local food that we found to be quite insightful. Basically, he wants us to focus on the food of Ontario and recognize the amazing mosaic of cultural foods that the province has to offer, and not try to define what Ontario food is. This really helped to broaden our horizons!
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It’s Never Too Late to Learn the Language of Local Food. Jeff Bray, co-founder of the Cultivate Food and Music Festival in Port Hope, grew up on packaged food with no real idea where his food came from. At 26, he connected with the local farmers that were behind the food being served at his restaurant, and so began his passion for food grown in Northumberland County. Now, Jeff is an inspiration to many through his steadfast leadership. He has created, with his wife Amelia, an incredible festival that celebrates all things Northumberland and is the epitome of a local food celebration.
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Ontario Wine is World Renowned. Magdalena Kaiser of VQA Wine of Ontario had the room is awe over the province’s latest wine accolades. Most notably to her, Matt Kramer, a prominent U.S. wine writer and contributing editor for Wine Spectator magazine, had once again named Norm Hardie’s county chardonnay one of his wines of the year. It’s a big deal, especially since he also called Ontario “The World’s Least-Known Great Wine Zone”. Win!
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Cedar tea cures just about everything. Which was a good lesson courtesy of Aboriginal catering company Wawaty Catering. They partnered with the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum to give us a taste of Algonquin cuisine. Slow steeped cedar tea foraged that morning, and a wild rice and moose stew were on the agenda, and did not disappoint!
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We Need to Get Rid of the Silos. We got absorbed in the journeys of Jim Kane, sustainable tourism maven from Culture Xplorers, as he painted a picture of city tours and rural adventures. He proposes we get rid of the tourism silos (think adventure, heritage, even golf) our industry has created and instead, bring together these experiences. By bridging these gaps, we create holistic, memorable experiences that live in visitors hearts for years to come.
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Ottawa has an amazing, vibrant food scene. Between exploring the hidden treasures of Byward Market with the Culinary Adventure Company, and hitting the town come night fall — we were just blown away by the creativity and passion of Ottawa’s food people. From the chewiest, crustiest miche loaf to deep fried Japanese eggplant tacos to delicate, handmade pastas laced with squid ink — there’s so much to discover behind the doors of Ottawa’s many restaurants.

Were you at the 8th Annual Ontario Food Tourism Summit in Ottawa? Let us know how we did!

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    1. […] 8 Things We Learned From The 2016 Ontario Food Tourism Summit – This years Ontario … the Cultivate Food and Music Festival in Port Hope, grew up on packaged food with no real idea where his food came from. At 26, he connected with the local farmers … […]

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