September 16, 2016 by
By Matthew Wren
Foodlink Waterloo Region held its 13th annual Taste Local! Taste Fresh! event at Steckle Heritage Farm on September 11, 2016 in Kitchener and what a great day it was. Steckle Heritage Farm is a beautiful property with the walkway lined up with apple trees on one side, fields of sunflowers on the other. The property, which was established in 1833, is an educational farm that provides agricultural, environmental and cultural programs to children and families and is available to rent for weddings and private parties. The Taste Local! Taste Fresh! food event truly highlighted the property by bringing together 17 local chefs that paired up with local producers to create stunning bite sized dishes worthy of a high-end restaurant. Not only was there delicious food to enjoy but people were able to bid on a wide variety of silent auction items while enjoying live music by local guitarist, Juneyt.
As someone who has been in the food industry for the past 15 years, I have heard about this event in the past and knew a few of the participants but within two minutes of being there, I kicked myself for not attending the event in the past. Everyone was there for one reason; to support local. As I entered the grounds, there was a tent with handcrafted appetizer plates with different designs made by the Waterloo Potters Workshop. These mini plates were to be used as our tasting plates and were our souvenir of the event. When they say local, they truly meant it! There was a giant tent set up with a few vendors outside and the rest were inside the barn. The menu included everything from Pork belly with Chorizo (Bingeman’s with Don’s Produce) to Pork and Scallion dumplings with homemade Kimchi (Kitchener Market with Top Market Meats) to Curried Lamb Meatball Sliders with Arugula Raita (Sole & Circle R Livestock with Green Hart Farm) and a delicious Peach Darquoise Cake with Maple Syrup Crème Fraiche (The Busy Locavore with Bailey’s Local Foods) and much more.
The thing that I loved most about this event, aside from the amazing food, was the fact that there was a wide variety of flavours all based on locally produced fare. From Asian to Ethiopian to Trinidadian to Canadian, I felt like I had travelled the world and yet I was at a farm in Kitchener. I had talked to some of the other participants and some were newbies (like me!) and others were veterans of the event but everyone was praising the event for its amazing turnout. I also loved the fact that the each of the vendors, both restaurants and suppliers, had a little display set up, telling people more about their business. You could clearly tell that the vendors loved their job and truly embraced the local food scene.
I arrived at the event with an empty stomach and I left feeling full. I can’t wait to go back next year and hope to see you there!
Matthew Wren has worked in numerous kitchens and bakeries over the past 15 years. He loves all things to do with food and supports local businesses and farmers markets. On the side, he likes to write and does photography. Go to Facebook.com/MWrenPhoto to see more of his work.