Terroir: The New Radicals

Terroir: an annual symposium bringing together the hospitality industry, including chefs, food writers, and wine and food experts to discuss, network, and share ideas to affect a positive evolution. The mission is to encourage community and culture; provide educational opportunities; recognize and appreciate those who have made a positive impact, and inspire ideas; and to invest and support one other, thereby strengthening the hospitality industry as a whole. This year, the 6th annual event took place in April at the Oliver & Bonacini Arcadian Court in downtown Toronto.

This year’s theme, “The New Radicals”, highlighted a new trend in the Toronto dining scene; a new kind of chef and restaurateur. “The new radicals are embracing old traditions and trusted techniques, yet delivering ingredients in a radical new way,” says Arlene Stein, Chair, Terroir Committee. “They are the new vanguards: highly skilled, continually in pursuit of excellence, their practices are ingrained in the principles of sustainable food production and local farming, and they have much to share.”

Of the star-studded roster of participants, Barton Seaver, author of For Cod & Country, made quite an impact in his presentation about moving beyond sustainability. Sustainability is great he tells us, but “we cannot sustain what we do not have,” he asserts. “We have enough resources in this world to feed everyone, but we do not have enough to feed everyone’s desires.” Seaver emphasizes restorative practices, and asks us to consider how we can eat in a way that is consistent with the values of community and conservation. He challenges us to rethink our relationship with fish, and make personally sustainable choices for responsible consumption that factor in our portion size as well as the seasonality of the fish and the practices of the fisherman.

Who are the people behind our dinner choices? How do they impact us and how do we impact them? How do we look at our own plates? We must consider that we are part of our ecosystem, and that what we “do”–as opposed to what we “don’t do”–has an impact; and that what we eat–considering the source, the season, the amount–has an impact on our environment as much as it does on our waistlines. We are all empowered to make informed decisions about our eating habits that can affect more than our own selves, but also the environment, and the ecosystem as a whole, in which we live.

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