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Initiated by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance (OCTA), “FeastON” is a certification program that recognizes businesses — and that would be mostly restaurants — committed to sourcing Ontario grown and produced food and beverage.
According to the organization’s website, the FeastON initiative supports local economies and Ontario’s farmers and producers in order to continue to build a “local food identity” at the same time putting dollars back into our communities and reducing the impact on our environment, according to Agatha Podgorski, Community Manager at Culinary Tourism Alliance.
“Over the past two-and-a-half years, we’ve had over 120 restaurants achieve the certification and this number is continuing to grow. What’s more, last year restaurants in the program collectively spent over $17 million on Ontario grown and raised product. That’s $4 million more than the year before that. We’re finding an increase in the procurement percentage from businesses year after year, which means what we’re doing is working.”
In order to gain FeastON certification, businesses must meet the standards of 25 percent annual Ontario food and beverage purchases. They pay to be part of the program and must show that they have maintained the participation levels to remain qualified.
In our immediate area, the following restaurants are FeastON certified: Borealis Grille, Miijidaa, Woolwich Arrow, Breadalbane, Lanc Smokehouse, Langdon Hall, Little Mushroom Catering, Red House and Taco Farm. There are no doubt more to come as it takes time and logistics for a restaurant to build and maintain a qualifying program.
Recently, Langdon Hall held their kick-off Summer BBQ Series (the very popular five-event series is sold out, so sign up next year!), which included FeastON chefs Arron Carley (The Bruce Hotel, Stratford), Ryan Crawford (Backhouse, Niagara-on-the-Lake), Albert Ponzo (The Royal Hotel, Picton), Emily Leonard (Casero Kitchen Table, Owen Sound), Shaun Edmonstone (Bruce Wine Bar, Thornbury) as well beverage companies Nicholas Pearce Wines and Sapsucker Maple Tree Filtered Water.
Leonard prepared her take on Yucatan poc chuc, which, she says, translates loosely to “toast (over) fire.”
“We used Berkshire pork shoulder from Dejong Acres in Lake Charles, thinly sliced and marinated in rhubarb juice and garlic,” says Leonard. “We used rhubarb from our garden to replace the traditional bitter orange used in the Yucatan. We then grilled the sliced pork over wood and charcoal fire.”
The blue corn tortilla was made by Maizal in Toronto. “He is growing corn for tortillas in Ontario,” says Leonard. The dish also has charred spring onion from Twin Creek Farm and braised black turtle beans from Blackshire Farm, rhubarb along with chile de Arbol salsa, chive blossoms and red radish micro greens. “We also served chicharrons from the pork skin with pickled rhubarb,” she adds.
And that adds up to a dish full of Ontario ingredients.
FeastON certification indicates that the restaurants and producers support local food systems, so you can support them too.
[Banner image / Feast On Facebook]
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