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Twitter Uncorked: How Ontario Wineries are Using Social Media

By Rebecca Mackenzie on December 30th, 2010

This December Michelle Bosc (@MBosc) was a busy woman. In addition to her role as marketing director for Chateau de Charmes winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, she stayed glued to Twitter. The reason? Bosc was proudly sharing the story of their new Generation Seven wines with fellow Tweeters. In fact, she admits that the only marketing they�ve done for the wine since its launch this year was done through social media platforms.

?Generation Seven was almost 100 per cent promoted on Twitter and Facebook,? she says. ?You�re able to tell the story in a way that advertising just doesn�t do.?

After gauging feedback from her 1,700+ members, Bosc even organized a Generation Seven Twitter party using the hashtag #GenSeven. At a set time participants had to open a bottle of Generation Seven white or red, donate $10 to the Meal Exchange (one dollar from every bottle of Generation Seven sold automatically goes to the Meal Exchange), log in to Twitter, and join the Twitter party conversation.

Bosc says this type of interactive social media strategy is in line with the current shift from traditional marketing into a more dynamic method of brand promotion.

?Obviously social media is a trend right now,? she says, attributing it to Generation Seven�s in-market success. ?I am trying to connect with real life consumers as opposed to just blasting with tremendous email spam. The people who are using Twitter now are real every day folks. They just want to have that one-on-one conversation�and they are looking for a more individualized message, something that they can emotionally connect to.?

Krystina Roman (@Rosewoodwine), the self-proclaimed ?social bee� for Rosewood Estates Winery and Meadery, also holds similar views about the type of consumer Twitter attracts � especially those fond of all things culinary.

?People love to talk about food and wine. It�s insane,? she says. ?There�s so much you can leverage and do with Twitter. I�ve met clients, and other people. I call it my customer relations management tool. It�s unbelievable. The power of the customers is there. It gives them a voice.?

Since tweeting for Rosewood as of this April, Roman has attracted over 2,000 followers who are passionate about the work the winery is doing and the products they are offering.

?We see this technology as something that can really help us grow our address book,? says Roman. ?I�m not doing this just for me. It�s for all of the VQA local wineries. I support my neighbour as much as I support myself.?

Sherry Martin (@KarloEstates) of Karlo Estates Winery was drawn to Twitter as a marketing tool for the vineyard because of its price tag.

?We don�t have a lot of money for traditional advertising so we used Twitter because it was an inexpensive for of getting the word out there,? says Martin.

Martin adds that since she has been Tweeting on behalf of the winery, she has been able to reach out and make meaningful connections � connections that in turn lead to business opportunities.

She recalls the time a series of Tweets helped connect well-known sommelier Zoltan Szabo to the Karlo Estates Port. Szabo was an immediate fan of the beverage, blogged about it.

?As a result we had a number of people contact us to buy the port,? says Martin. ?And that wouldn�t have happened without Twitter.?

Karen Black (@goodearthtweets), a Twitter newbie from The Good Earth Food and Wine Company, has only been tweeting since January of this year.

?We use it to communication with those in the industry,? says Black.

Over the last few months Black says she has seen the momentum around the technology growing however, and is planning on exploring the ways in which she can leverage both Twitter and Facebook in the new year to better reach out to the consumer.

?I�m still trying to figure out how to get [Twitter] working,? she says, candidly. ?It�s fun and people seem to be more interested when it�s informational and something they can pass on.?

Chef Jamie Kennedy Appointed to the Prestigious Order of Canada

By Rebecca Mackenzie on December 30th, 2010

Sincere congratulations go out to Chef Jamie Kennedy on his recent appointment as a Member to the Order of Canada. This is an incredible achievement and symbolizes Jamie’s commitment to supporting and sustaining local and artisanal food movements in our country.

Please read this message from Rideau Hall:

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, announced today 54 new appointments to the Order of Canada. The new appointees include 12 Officers (O.C.), and 42 Members (C.M.). These appointments were made on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada.

Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

The Order of Canada, one of our country�s highest civilian honours, was established in 1967, during Canada�s centennial year, to recognize a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation. Over the last 40 years, more than 5 000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order.

Jamie Kennedy, C.M.
Toronto, Ontario
Member of the Order of Canada

For his promotion of Canadian cuisine and the use of organic, sustainable and locally sourced foods.


For more information on the Canadian Honours System, please consult our Web site at

Eating and Tweeting: Chefs who Use Twitter

By Rebecca Mackenzie on December 21st, 2010

The coolest food truck in Southern Ontario is often on the move.

That meant Tamara Jensen of El Gastronomo Vagabundo needed a medium to quickly inform her customers where it would be parked next.

In addition to updating her Facebook page, Jensen (@elgastronomo) turned to Twitter as a new way to spread the word about El Gastro�s ever-changing information.

?We change our menu every day or every week so we use it to let people know,? says Jensen. ?We update it a few times a day.?

Even with quick hits of info via 140 characters, Jensen says she has been able to make meaningful connections with both her customers and regional businesses.

?It�s been important to actually have a conversation with people,? she says.

?Actually participating with our followers and those we want to be connected with is about being known as people, not just as a business.?

Jensen also says that Twitter has helped her reach out to fellow food truck operators both nationally and internationally for information and advice.

?We�re seeing a lot of what the trucks are doing in the states,? she says, adding that following them on Twitter has in turn influenced their own business plans.

What Jensen consider most important is for fellow Tweeters to keep a light and upbeat tone.

?It�s about staying positive,? she says. ?We leave positive feedback to a chef or a restaurant on Twitter if we visit them. I know a lot of people are competitive in the food industry but we believe it�s really important to have healthy competition.?

Chef Scott Vivian (@BeastRestaurant) of Beast Restaurant in Toronto also keeps his customers in the loop via Twitter.

?At first we didn�t know what to expect but we�ve grown with it over the past few months,? says Vivian, who began Tweeting under Beast Restaurant�s name in May 2010. ?I used it a lot to get the word out there for the new dishes we come up with and for the events we put on because it�s a good outlet for information.?

Vivian also uses Twitter for contests and promotions. He remembers the one he ran in conjunction with a Beast catering event for Anthony Bourdain�s Toronto appearance. Twitter followers had to submit a slogan using the word ?Beast� for event T-shirts. In turn the winner got two free tickets to Bourdain�s talk.

?We had a really good response,? says Vivian. ?And we had a really good time. Twitter has been really good to us. It really has.?

When OCTA approached chef Douglas McNish (@DougMcNish), of Raw Aura Organic Cuisine in Mississauga, Ont., about doing an interview for this article via Twitter, we were glad to see he was as excited about the idea as we were.

Read below for our interview transcript, done entirely and appropriately, all through Twitter Direct Messages (DMs):

I like this. Maybe the first tweeter interview :)

Hey! So this should be fun to see what we come up with! Thanks for participating in the interview! So tell me how long have you been tweeting?

I’ve only been tweeting for 3 months, people told me I had to. Ive been active on Facebook for 5 years though

And when people told you ‘you had to’, what was your first reaction to that? Did you take them seriously?

No. I couldn’t figure out tweeting and ignored. I spent two weeks learning the basics and am hooked forever now. Love expressing myself

How does Twitter as a marketing and social communications medium help you tell your story as a chef, as well as the story of your resto?

Speaking 2 likeminded people is easier when using a platform. Like attracts like and those people want to know what’s going on. Be heard

This is hard!!! Lol :)

How often do you tweet and why?

Whenever I have something to say. I do things people want to hear about, reaching people far away, I try to make earth happier :)

Nice! Has Twitter helped more customers connect with your restaurant? aka – has it positively affected your business?

Absolutely! Food writers, critics, new customers, celebs. I have attracted a lot of attention in 3 short months.

That’s wonderful to hear! What would be your advice for other chefs & restaurateurs who aren’t on Twitter?

Learn it, use it to showcase your passion, hardwork and love. Worth the learning curve at first. Cost is nothing, outcome is amazing

Thanks so much for chatting Doug! And of course, we’ll be tweeting about it when the article gets posted :-) Have a nice rest of the day!


To stay on top of the latest Tweets from Ontario’s chefs and restaurants follow our “Chefs and Restos” list via @OntarioCulinary

Using Social Media to Help Grow Your Business : Tweeting From the Farmhouse

By Rebecca Mackenzie on December 16th, 2010

By: Noelle Munaretto

Trevor Herrle-Braun (@Herrles Market) is not a big believer in marketing. Neither is his family.

?It�s not something that we had ever used,? says Herrle-Braun, of Herrles County Farm Market in St. Agatha, Ont. ?We don�t advertise as a rule in our family. We prefer word of mouth.?

But when Herrle-Braun stumbled upon Twitter in March of this year, the speed and ease of communicating in 140-character chunks caught his eye.

?With our business, time is of the essence,? he says. ?If I can throw out a quick little blurb it works.?

Today, with over 700 followers, the Herrle’s Farm Twitter feed is capturing a wide audience by sharing authentic stories from the field and the farmhouse.

?All through the planting season I did a hashtag called tractor tweets,? says Herrle-Braun, adding that he would tweet directly from the field about crops he was planting like peas and sweet corn.

He also mentioned how tweeting from his phone during his workdays allowed his customers to better understand exactly what kind of labour and effort goes into running a full-scale farm.

?It�s educational because it puts a personal touch to the business. Our followers can actually connect with a family member,? added Herrle-Braun. ?If you�re just going to advertise your business that� not what social media is about.

Free Range Farmer Mark Hall (@ont_tamworth) is also using his Twitter to give his followers a glimpse into the world of professional farming.

?We�re trying to paint a picture for people about what life is like on the farm,? he said. ?We�re also all about connecting with people who have small farms like ours.?

Hall, who farms free-range, grass-fed and heritage cattle, pigs and poultry sees Twitter�s potential in creating meaningful industry relationships. And sometimes, those meaningful relationships can also lead directly to sales.

?It�s an online sharing of information,? he says. ?We�ve sold some stuff from the connections I�ve made on Twitter.

Above all, Hall says Twitter has helped challenge the boundaries of traditional communication methods.

?We had a farm blog too,? he added. ?But it�s actually interesting because through Twitter we build up connections with people we might not have otherwise.?

At Springridge Farm in Milton, Ont., Niki Hilton (@springridgenow) is a social media manager with a mission.

She�s been tweeting on behalf of the farm since February 2010, and has since been spreading the word about the farm�s products, festivals, tours, and special offers to her 900 plus followers.

?Being a farm market, there�s a lot of other farm markets in Ontario we could connect with on Twitter,? says Hilton. ?And being a free platform, Twitter was a great marketing tool for us.?

Hilton explains how this past summer, the farm partnered up with local TV personality Kathy Buckworth for an event, Girls Night Out on the Farm. In conjunction they offered numerous promotions, as well as access to the event, via Twitter. The event turned out to be a success, with a large turnout and great online exposure. Hilton credits social media through Twitter as one of the reasons behind that success.

?That really validated us being on Twitter and investing time in it,? she says.

Hilton has also taken Twitter to the next level by attending regional Tweet Ups � in-person get-togethers for Twitter users from a particular area.

?I�ve been able to attend a few of those and make the connections with our followers face-to-face,? she says. ?We�ve made some great partnerships out of that.?

To get tweets from great growers and producers in Ontario follow their list via @OntarioCulinary on Twitter

Butchering a Deer at Cowbell: A Photo Essay

By Rebecca Mackenzie on December 13th, 2010

By: Noelle Munaretto

Last night I had the great privilege of attending one of Mark Cutrara’s butchery demonstrations at Cowbell Restaurant. Over the course of two hours Cutrara carefully broke down a whole deer. He also chatted about the restaurant’s recent LEAF eco-certification, his nose-to-tail concept, and offered up some wonderful made-in-house charcuterie to sample.

We’ve added the photos of the extensive demonstration to our Flickr account.

Please note that, to some, these images may be of a graphic nature, as they do depict butchery of a deer carcass.

Globe and Mail article on Locavores

By Rebecca Mackenzie on December 1st, 2010

Check out this awesome article by Wency Leung from Friday’s Globe and Mail. A great piece about locavorism and what we can do to better support local food systems!

Touring Around Niagara Foodie-Style

By Rebecca Mackenzie on November 17th, 2010

Want to know what happened on our Niagara Field Trip after the 2010 Ontario Culinary Tourism Summit? Check out Lara Bender’s Agritourism Ottawa blog for detailed descriptions of our culinary tastings and winery visits. From pork belly at Ravine to raspberry dessert wine at Southbrook, our day was jam-packed full of amazing Ontario flavours!

Read more here:

Farming Successes in Ontario via Farm Forum

By Rebecca Mackenzie on November 17th, 2010

Author Cynthia Bablitz writes about Steve and Lisa Cooper’s farming success story in the latest issue of Farm Forum. Explore this Ontario-based good news story here:

Congratulations to Our 2010 Ontario Culinary Tourism Award Winners

By Rebecca Mackenzie on November 16th, 2010

OCTA would like to extend its sincere congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Ontario Culinary Tourism Awards.

Savour Ottawa took home the Culinary Tourism Leadership Award while the Savour Stratford Perth County Festival took home the Culinary Tourism Experience Award.

Also of note are our runners up:

For Leadership – Savour Stratford Perth County
For Experience – Sensational Elora, The Blue Mountain Village Apple Pie Trail

Award finalists and winners were celebrated at the Ontario Tourism Summit at Deerhurst Resort in Hunstville, Ont on Nov. 8, 2010.

Many thanks are again extended to our 2010 award judges: Suzanne Caskie of George Brown College, Barb Shopland of 2Gener8 Solutions Inc., Charles Grieco of the Ontario Hostelry Institute, and Suresh Doss of Spotlight Toronto.

We will be posting images and video from the awards celebration at Deerhurst, along with detailed information about our award winners over the next two weeks in a special Awards section on our website.

Stay tuned for more 2010 Ontario Culinary Tourism Award coverage.

OCTA Mentioned in Globe and Mail Article

By Rebecca Mackenzie on October 19th, 2010

Check out this article from Tuesday’s Globe and Mail about eco-certification trends across Canadian restaurant menus. OCTA even had a special little shout out!!


Certification programs make green dining easier for frequent fliers

From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Oct. 18, 2010 4:00PM EDT
Last updated Monday, Oct. 18, 2010 5:06PM EDT

At Vancouver�s trendy Coast Restaurant, cruise-ship tourists and executives in town for meetings know exactly where their dinner comes from: The names of the Vancouver Island fishermen and oystermen who caught their fare are listed on the menu.

That direct relationship is a hallmark of the slow-food movement, and business districts, with the highest concentration of celebrity chefs and fine dining establishments, are pushing the movement forward. It�s good news for business travellers: Wherever you can fly to in North America, you can now eat a ?sustainable? meal, cooked to the rhythm of seasons using ethically produced, local ingredients. And more restaurants are becoming certified by programs such as the Vancouver Aquarium�s Ocean Wise or the Green Restaurant Association.

Ocean Wise is the other stamp indicating eco-minded fare. It started in 2005, at the urging of Rob Clark, executive chef of Vancouver�s C Restaurant, who approached aquarium scientists seeking assurance that seafood on his menu was not endangered or overfished. Now, there are at least 800 Ocean Wise restaurants and hotels nationally, plus food suppliers, caterers, universities and stores � and certifications are doubling every year.

?Green? restaurants prioritize reducing, reusing and recycling; slow food celebrates fair-trade relationships and the convivial experience of a meal. But the philosophies often overlap.

?Every restaurant we deal with has a chef with a set of morals who wants to the do the right thing,? says Steve Johansen, co-founder of Organic Ocean Seafood Inc., which supplies Ocean Wise-certified sustainable seafood to Coast, C Restaurant, One Hundred Days (the pop-up resto at OPUS Vancouver Hotel) and many other elite nosh spots, including Canoe Restaurant and Bar in Toronto and Social in Ottawa.

As a suggestion for where to eat responsibly, Johansen publishes his entire customer list online. Where there is line-caught fish (instead of netted with plenty of accidental ?bycatch?) and trap-caught B.C. spot prawns, count on being served antibiotic-free meats and organic veggies as well, he reasons. Case in point: Among Organic Ocean�s customers is the carnivorous Black Hoof in Toronto. ?It�s all about the love, it really is,? Johansen says.

Ocean Wise, LEAF and the Green Restaurant Association all have searchable online databases. Hotel concierges are another resource: For instance, Ku Nakanelua, of the W Hollywood hotel, likes Los Angeles eco-eateries RH Restaurant and BLVD 16.

And chefs who cook ?slow? often eat that way: They can be plumbed for their resto picks as well. Chef David Chrystian, who grew up on a fruit farm and now leads Victor Restaurant and Lounge at Hotel Le Germain Toronto, puts Rouge Restaurant in Calgary and Toronto�s Reds Bistro and Wine Bar ?at the top? of his list of sustainable eateries. In his own menu, Chrystian calls attention to Toronto�s ethnic diversity � another tenet of slow food � with items such as Korean barbecued short ribs with locally grown kimchi.

?Why should we serve strawberries and asparagus in winter, when you could change a menu four times a year and support family farming as a noble profession,? he asks. That approach appeals to green-principled young executives � ?the up-and-comers racing around the world? � who stay at his hotel, he believes.

Reds Bistro, meanwhile, sources 90 per cent of ingredients from Ontario or through sustainable channels such as Ocean Wise, according to executive chef Michael Steh � who admires C Restaurant and the Fairmont Royal York Hotel�s EPIC Restaurant, in Toronto.

For inspiration, Arlene Stein, the co-chair of Slow Food Toronto, recommends contacting B.C.�s Green Table Network, Savour Ontario or the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance.

Before flying to a different city, Stein suggests researching pre- or post-meeting culinary tourism opportunities there. Toronto�s Evergreen Brick Works, where Stein is program director, attracts prominent ?slow? chefs including Steh and Chrystian for an annual slow-food picnic in early October. Other popular events are the annual Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder ChowDown, at the Vancouver Aquarium, and a new ChowDown at the Fairmont Royal York, both in November. In the U.S., there�s COCHON 555, an annual 10-city chef competition in tribute to heritage pigs and family farms.

For American cities, Brady Lowe, a frequent-flying foodie who organizes COCHON 555, vouches for Bourbon Steak at The Four Seasons in Washington; Chez Panisse and 4505 Meats in San Fransisco Hearth and Del Posto in New York; and Dynamic Dish in his hometown of Atlanta.

Says Lowe: ?You can�t beat farm-fresh menus with skyscraper views.

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