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Taste Local! Taste Fresh! Wrap Up

Taste Local! Taste Fresh! Wrap Up

by Cole Jones

It was another beautiful, sunny day at Steckle Heritage Farm for the 14th annual Taste Local! Taste Fresh! event. We had over 400 participants this year, including 17 chef/producer teams! As one attendee put it, “It’s difficult to think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon”.

The day started with setup at 9:00 am, and our Farmer & Chef partners were arriving by noon to set up their stations. By the time 2:30 came around the event was in full swing; drinks were flowing, food was cooking, and passports were being stamped at every turn. You couldn’t help but notice the smiles on everyone attending as they’d grab their dish from each station and sink their teeth into it. Overheard from a distance was a group of friends talking, “This is our third year attending and it honestly gets better every year!”

The chefs love the event because it’s a challenge to work with only one or two products and it gives them full creative autonomy over the dish that gets made. As a result, you end up with products like a rich ice cream and maple syrup combo from Four All, Eby Manor, and Snyder’s, and a smoked trout with pickled salad from Little Mushroom and T&J Seafood. The favourite dish of the day, as voted by secret ballot, was the Thai style Chicken Sausage Slider with mustard green relish, cilantro, and aioli from B Elegant Catering and Local Line. These dishes, naturally, inspire the attendees to “want to go home and cook!”, as one attendee puts it.

For farmers, the event serves as a chance to more directly connect with their end customer as well as develop new business relationships. Many of the farmers at the event already sell to their restaurant partners, which makes the event valuable for attendees because they can talk about not just how the food is cooked, but how it’s grown.

As always, the silent auction was a big hit, with over twenty packages available for bidding. Thanks to generous donations from our sponsors, producers and local businesses over $3,000 was raised from the silent auction.

As the event slowly came to a close, attendees left with more than full bellies. They left with a deep appreciation for our food system, and were grateful for all that Waterloo Region has to offer. When asked about what one attendee thought of the event, they said, “today is a great reminder of how fortunate we are to live in a place with great farmers and great food”.

We’re so thankful to everyone who attended and everyone who helped make the event a success. We’re already in planning mode for next year so stay tuned- we have a lot to live up to!

Cole Jones is a Foodlink board member as well as the founder & CEO of Local Line www.localline.ca, an online marketplace for wholesale food businesses.

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