Storytelling with a wooden talking spoon. Fresh rolls overflowing with PEI lobster. Camaraderie stoked by open fires and fueled by a shared love for food. A Guiness World Record Setting Attempt – 52 feet of carefully cured meat and artisan treats. A stage replete with passion and inspiration. Sixteen unique voices sharing insights and expertise with a crowd of three hundred plus six. An evening of mingling, indulging in culinary creations in the capital of Canada’s Food Island. A road trip to Bay Fortune. An Inn filled with warmth, grounds transformed into a sprawling dining room. Alpaca tacos and a cheeseador, lamb buried in red soil, a Tour De Cow and knife sharpening 101. Chefs and farmers, brewers and artisan producers, industry leaders and government stakeholders, students and seasoned professionals, foodies and entrepreneurs. Forge new friendships, rekindle old ones. An unforgettable gathering on Canada’s Food Island. Let’s do it all again next year.
Small-but-mighty PEI, Canada’s Food Island, hosted +300 attendees from across Canada for the 1st Annual Forage Food Symposium on Oct 18 and 19, 2018. The industry-driven gathering wrapped up on a brisk, sunny Friday afternoon with full bellies and even fuller hearts. Two intense and inspiring days filled with connection, learning, celebration, and epic food experience – that was the goal and we reached it in spectacular fashion!
We want to extend a huge thanks to all that shared their time, skills, stories, food and passion at Forage; we couldn’t have pulled it off without you! We are also very grateful to our generous sponsors for seeing the potential of Forage from the beginning: The Culinary Institute of Canada, the Inn at Bay Fortune, Techno Media PEI, Versatile Management Group, Atlantic Beef Products, PEI Lobster Fishers, Coach Atlantic, PEI Pork Producers, Harvest Wholesale and Upstreet Craft Brewing. Many thanks as well to our government funding partners: ACOA and the Government of Prince Edward Island.
Read on for a recap and highlights from the Symposium, including plenty of enticing photos that may leave you hungry for another Forage.
Save the Date – Forage Food Symposium 2019 is set to take place Oct 17 & 18 in PEI! If you were able to join us this year, thank you for being a part of the inaugural Forage Symposium and we hope to see you again next year! Mark the dates and plan to join us next year – October 17-18, 2019
If you weren’t able to join us this year, we sure hope our round-up of the Symposium will inspire you to come experience it for yourself in 2019:
WE CAME, WE LEARNED, WE WERE INSPIRED
Sixteen passionate influencers, trendsetters and experts were invited to share their insights and food stories during the first day of Forage, which took place at Holland College in Charlottetown. The day’s four panels covered a diverse range of relevant and current topics impacting those working in the world of food.
Creating Influence and Meet the Trendsetters panelists shared their own fascinating food stories – from opening an organic brewery to becoming a cookbook author to starting a fish CSA and more. They also shared their lessons learned, advice and insights on broad topics including the responsibility that comes with being a social media influencer and how to embrace the entrepreneurial journey.
Women in Food and 420 Flavours panelists spoke to more specific current issues that are impacting the world of food in important and myriad ways. The importance of creating a safe and supportive work environment for women and celebrating the successes of women in food were discussed by the all-female panel. The 420 Flavours panel offered very timely insights (cannabis was legalized the day prior to the panel talk) into how the legalization of recreational cannabis may create new opportunities within the culinary world.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER CHEF AMANDA COHEN CAPTIVATED OUR ATTENTION
Chef Amanda Cohen, the owner of NYC’s renowned vegetable-forward restaurant, Dirt Candy, and an Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef Canada this fall, delivered a captivating keynote. Entitled “How Opening a Restaurant Destroyed My Life and Saved My Soul”, Chef Amanda focused on important chapters from her own food story, touching on issues including how female chefs have historically been sidelined and mistreated and how the #MeToo movement is impacting the culinary world, the challenges and triumphs inherent with pushing the boundaries to create new and unique culinary dishes, and how restaurant tipping creates unfair working conditions for servers and kitchen staff alike. Her hour at the podium flew by as she regaled the audience with outtakes from her own life as a chef and wove in research and commentary that reinforced her key points.
OUR ISLAND’S RICH BOUNTY OF FLAVOURS AND INGREDIENTS WAS SHOWCASED
What do you get when you bring a bounty of skilled chefs, primary producers, and food enthusiasts together during harvest season on Canada’s Food Island? A seemingly endless spread of epic food experiences that showcase PEI’s high-quality, flavourfaul and diverse ingredients with the utmost skill, creativity and love possible.
Lobster, beef, pork, fresh vegetables, artisan cheeses, alpaca, oysters, mussels, craft beers and plenty of other harvests from PEI’s land and sea were served up by the Culinary Institute of Canada on the first day and at the Inn at Bay Fortune’s Day of Country Fire on the second day of Forage.
THE EXCITEMENT WAS AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH FOR OUR GUINESS WORLD RECORD-SETTING CHARCUTERIE BOARD ATTEMPT
As if a 5-hour feast featuring interactive food stations on the beautiful grounds of the Inn at Bay Fortune wasn’t exciting enough, we upped the ante even more with a Guinness World Record Attempt at creating the world’s largest charcuterie board. Under the expert direction of Mike MacKenzie from Ontario’s famed Seed to Sausage and with major contributions from the CIC, Inn at Bay Fortune, Seed to Sausage and Glasgow Glen Farms, as well as tastes of place from Forage attendees, the board was assembled in the Inn’s sunroom.
The excitement was palpable as we gathered on either side of the board and pointed in awe and appreciation of the gorgeous work of edible art featuring over 100 different ingredients included cured meats, artisan cheeses, preserves and condiments. It was time to measure the masterpiece and then lift it to prove the board was one continuous piece, as required by the rules set out by the Guinness World Records Organization. To our great relief, the lift went smoothly and we were able to complete all the requirements necessary to submit our attempt to Guinness for consideration – if accepted, we will have set a brand new record for the longest charcuterie board in the world!!
The official measure of the charcuterie board?? 52 feet and 3.25 inches long!!!! And, yes, we did get to dig in and enjoy the amazing spread of meats, cheese, condiments and preserves afterwards!
WE SHARED AND CELEBRATED OUR FOOD STORIES
Forage PEI was founded so that we could share our food stories and find inspiration from each other’s stories. And so, over lobster rolls, around fire pits, at food stations and under a big white tent (while wielding a giant ‘talking spoon’) we shared our stories. Some were just beginning to unfold, while others had many chapters already written and some even had surprise plot twists. The commonality amongst our stories? A shared love of food and a desire to bring people together through food.
WE FOUND NEW FRIENDS AND RECONNECTED WITH OLD ONES
There’s quite possibly no better way to make new friends and reconnect with old ones than by gathering around a kitchen table and break bread together. Or in the case of Forage, the friendship forging was more likely while shucking oysters together, raving about carrot burgers with fellow foodies, or roasting fancy-flavoured homemade marshmallows alongside other fire-loving folks.
Indeed, Forage was the perfect reminder of the camaraderie that exists amongst those who work with food. At every possible opportunity there was a lend a helping hand, someone was ready to dive in. The kinship felt at Forage is a testament to the strength of community and steadfast belief shared by attendees that together we ARE better. And on that note, we look forward to continuing to share and celebrate our food stories and to coming together again next October for another epic gathering in Canada’s Food Island.