It launched on Victoria Day weekend and runs through Canada Day. Organized by the Glebe BIA, Canadian Eats is a culinary adventure that sees more than 40 Glebe restaurants and other food businesses creating a huge range of dishes and drinks inspired by Canada.
The concept is simple. Glebe BIA executive director Andrew Peck asked Bank Street food businesses to each create a dish or a drink that captures the spirit of Canadian cuisine.
The result is impressive. A range of appetizers, entrees, desserts, and drinks that are classic Canadian dishes — think butter tarts, poutine, and lobster rolls, as well as seasonal plates based on local ingredients. There are also dishes from around the world reinterpreted using very Canadian ingredients.
It all makes for an incredible culinary journey designed to get foodies from around the city flocking to the Glebe to taste-test their way along Bank Street. OM spoke with Peck about this initiative.
How did the idea for Canadian Eats come about?
It’s an interesting story. There’s so much going on in 2017 that I had actually earmarked 2018 as the year that the Glebe BIA would do something to celebrate all of the restaurants here. So I’d been looking at food festivals around Canada and the world to get ideas, but there was no rush to it.
Then I was listening to CBC radio – I think it was in February – and heard Anna Maria Tremonti interviewing Lenore Newman about her new book, Speaking in Cod Tongues. Basically, the book looks at what Canadian cuisine is all about. As [Newman] is talking, I think, “That’s it! I know what I’m going to do!” I thought about all of the restaurants and food businesses in the Glebe and how every one has its own interpretation of Canadian cuisine. That idea led to Canadian Eats as a way to promote Glebe’s restaurants and allow them to highlight their menus while interpreting the idea of Canadian cuisine in any way they want to.
Did you set any guidelines for Canadian Eats? Any suggestions on how restaurants should interpret the theme?
No. We wanted to make it as open as possible. So I asked people to think about how the Canadian experience has shaped the way they cook and what they cook. I wanted them to think about … what it means to “put Canada on a plate.”
In that CBC radio interview, Lenore Newman talked about how Canadian cuisine is a “Creole cuisine.” In other words, it’s a real mixture of so many cuisines.
Any particular reason that Canadian Eats runs from Victoria Day through Canada Day?
It’s about 40 days and nights, which gives people lots of opportunity to taste quite a few of the dishes. In the longer term, we plan to build on Canadian Eats and do it again next year, so if it’s book-ended by two holidays people will hopefully remember when it’s running and look for it.
I hear you’ll be running lots of extra content on social media over the next six weeks to get people engaged in Canadian Eats.
That’s the plan. All of the Canadian Eats dishes and drinks are on the website. But we’ll also have Q&A’s with the chefs about how they decided on their dishes, maybe some recipes, and other blog pieces.
I love how some of the chefs gave their dishes quirky names — Porky Pig Poutine [from Industria] and Six Degrees of K’vin Bacon [The Works], to name a few. Have you had a chance to try any of the dishes from the 40+ restaurants?
It’s one of the perks of the job! So far I’ve had Erling’s’ capocollo and scallop dish, the Canadian omelette [from Sunset Grill], and the mac and cheese [from Wild Oat Bakery]. I’ve also tried some of the desserts and coffees.
You mentioned that it’s not just restaurants participating in Canadian Eats. Which other Glebe businesses are involved and how?
The [Glebe] Meat Market butchery is highlighting its in-house tourtière; The Unrefined Olive will show off local oils; Metro is highlighting some local producers; and The Farmer’s Market at Lansdowne is planning to put together some initiatives, as well. The possibilities are endless.
It all sounds amazing. What are your long-term goals for Canadian Eats?
I want this to become a legacy event that takes place every year in the Glebe. It’s great to think about how we’ll develop and grow it. There are so many possibilities.