The 2015 Terroir Symposium took place this past Monday in downtown Toronto. With the intent to bring together the innovative and creative influencers in hospitality, the theme of this year's conference was Pioneering Change - crafting the way we eat.
The annual gathering brings together chefs, restaurateurs, writers and industry professionals to talk about trends and issues in the community. While the conference had intended to discuss change, much of the speakers focused on getting back to basics in an effort to support communities and strengthen the industry.
This focus on basic principles of cooking, community and industry created inspired talks and demonstrations:
Bangerter shared how the wealth of produce changed how he approached menu planning, now looking to the garden to create dishes rather than allowing the meat to lead and vegetables to act as a garnish.
"We can go out and fill a basket and it all looks like the same green things" said Bangerter. As he served the overflowing room he urged participants to try individual elements as "Everything tastes distinctly different and it's shocking. Each leaf has its own quality and distinct character."
Chef Antonio Park, chef/owner of Restaurant Park, Park Market and Lavanderia in Montreal continued the chef demo series to a crowded room of spectators attentively watching his knife skills as he shared how he kills and filets fish. While later in the day the award-winning Canadian sushi chef was sharing fish freezing technology, the demo was about traditional Japanese techniques.
Setting the tone for the demonstration Park stated," I wanted to show what I know to the people I care about and that is the people in the kitchen."
Park shared simple techniques of scaling dish to his approach killing fish either with a needle to the brain or through the kaimin technique of killing fish through acupuncture, which sends fish to sleep in water, adding "The sleeping death doesn't stress the fish. I'm more humane because they die from sleeping and it makes a better fish."
And in a world of chefs focusing of the newest gadgets and expensive knifes Park added his own perspective, "You don't need the most expensive Japanese knife. The knife has nothing to do with it. It's what you do with it. "
Back in the main hall, Chef Ned Bell gave one of the most passionate speeches of the afternoon, asking chefs to rethink how they approach sustainable seafood.
In an environment where the farm to table and knowing your farmer is commonplace Chef Bell challenged the community with this question "Why don't chefs know where their seafood comes from or the names of their fisherman?"
Chef Bell is the executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, the first luxury hotel to be 100% Ocean Wise compliant. An ardent advocate, and founder of Chefs for Oceans, Chef Bell cycled across Canada last summer to raise money for the Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, SeaChoice, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
"What I'm doing is giving a shit about the fishermen...we need to wake up. This country was born on the backs of the fishing industry," said Chef Bell.