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Local Chefs Come Together to Educate on the Challenges Surrounding Modern Food Systems

After a five-week closure of dine-in restaurant service in Ontario, Sustainuary has shifted to February.

Canada’s first-ever Sustainuary is a public awareness campaign designed to educate the broader public on the challenges and issues surrounding our modern food systems, and how we can work towards reform. Throughout the month, Torontoians will be invited to join in on a series of educational discussions over Instagram Live, experience feature dishes put together by Sustainuary chef ambassadors and restaurant partners, and attend one of two four-course ticketed dinners that aims to put Sustainuary's pillars on the plate for consumers. Proceeds from each dinner will be donated to FoodShare to help fund their sustainability and social justice programming.

Sustainuary is founded by 100km Foods, an award-winning local food distributor servicing Toronto and the GTA, and Chris Locke, Executive Chef of neighbourhood, farm-to-table restaurant, Marben. Together their mission is to educate the ways in which a sustainable diet can be achieved and influence change in our food systems by changing consumer demand.

“Simply put, our food systems are broken,” said Chris Locke, executive chef, Marben Restaurant.

“Large corporations have commoditized and politicized food to the point where we have become completely disconnected from where our food comes from. But it doesn't have to be this way. Change is possible if we want it. Sustainuary aims to bring this topic into the forefront at a time of year when many people are considering their own personal growth and resolutions.”

Sustainuary is based on the framework of four key pillars:

  • Social Justice: Advocating for social and political change to allow access to good and culturally relevant food for all
  • Locality and Seasonality: Sourcing ingredients locally and the reduced impact on the environment of doing so while actively cultivating relationships with local growers/producers and building a network of sustainable, like-minded people to source from
  • Responsible Food Generation: Generating food while having a neutral/positive impact on the earth and communities. This includes the way food is grown but also extends to the catching and hunting of wild animals
  • Waste Reduction: The encouragement of root to flower and nose to tail eating with emphasis on using the whole ingredient. Upcycling leftovers into new dishes and showcasing fermentation as a vehicle for upcycling.

“Nested within this framework are sub sectors and a myriad of issues and solutions,” said Paul Sawtell, co-founder and co-owner of 100km Foods. “The march towards a sustainable food system necessitates a holistic approach where each element is supported by organizations and stakeholders driven by a need to do better.”

100km Foods and Marben Restaurant are joined by a group of Sustainuary Chef Ambassadors that represent the core values of the campaign and are already implementing elements of the framework in their kitchens and using their voices to advocate for systemic change. These chefs, who in February  will help spread the Sustainuary message through feature dishes and lead the Sustainuary two-date dinner series, include:

  • Joseph Shawana, Chef Professor and Indigenous Culinary Advisor at Centennial College and Chair of the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations
  • Ryan Lister, District Executive Chef of Liberty Commons, Sap Canadian Comfort Food & The Rabbit Hole
  • Joshna Maharaj, Chef, Author & Activist
  • Laura Maxwell, Chef of Drake Hotel
  • Colin Moïse, Chef of Renegade Harvest
  • Adam Hynam Smith, Executive Chef and co-owner of Dispatch
  • Chris Locke, Executive Chef of Marben Restaurant

Torontonians are invited to join Paul Sawtell, Chris Locke and Sustainuary’s Chef Ambassadors for one of two memorable nights of dinner, drinks, and deep discussions on the topic of sustainability. The dinner series, held at Marben Restaurant on the evenings of February 28 and March 7, will both educate and challenge guests while raising funds for FoodShare and the work they do around social justice and food security.

Guests can look forward to a unique four-course meal with each course focusing on one of the pillars of the Sustainuary framework. The dishes will be curated by Chefs Ambassadors who are championing sustainability from within their restaurants and communities. The dinners will also feature special guest Paul Taylor, Executive Director at Foodshare Toronto.

Sustainuary is also championed by a core group of restaurant partners and producers including The New Farm, Feast On, Fogo Island Fish, Sheldon Creek Dairy, VG Meats, Maple Leaf Tavern, 1 Hotel, Eastbound Brewery and Richmond Station.