Friday, December 11, 2015

The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is very happy to
welcome Canada to the Chef's Alliance

The founding members of the Chefs' Alliance in Canada have been recognized for their dedication to a local food culture.
Their menus are a vibrant representation of the cultivated and wild bounty that makes Canadian cuisine truly unique. 

On the West Coast, these Slow Food chefs are:

Cory Pelan
Whole Beast
Clif Lear
Fol Epi
Brad Holmes
Oliver Kienast
Wild Mountain
David Gunawan
Farmer's Apprentice

Grapes & Soda

Royal Dinette
Jesse McCleery

The prestigious International Foundation for Biodiversity Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance announces the first Canadian chefs to commit themselves to defending food biodiversity in their restaurants and shops. They join a network of chefs in Italy, the U.S.A., the Netherlands, Mexico, Albania and 
Morocco defending biodiversity around the world. Montreal is the home base for chefs representing Eastern Canada, while founding Chefs on the West Coast are based in Vancouver, Vancouver Island and on the Gulf Islands.

“It’s important to recognize the chefs who are genuinely engaged in their local food communities, “ said Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands Slow Food convivium leader Brooke Fader. “It’s fascinating to see these chefs using similar local ingredients, but creating a cuisine that is unique to each of them,” she said.
“They support local food production all year, not just ‘when possible’. They work hard tocreate a reciprocity with their producers and their guests, elevating the identity of Canadian cuisine.”

Slow Food Alliance chefs travel and meet with one another, participating in events, sharing ingredients and cooking together. Our West Coast chefs have chosen to share an ingredient with each other that they have in abundance: Jesse - pickled bull kelp; Dave - quince jam; Cory - porcini salami; Brad - lemon drop hot sauce; Clif - Red Fife wheat; Oliver - grand fir honey.

Slow Food involves over a million people dedicated to and passionate about good, clean and fair food. This includes chefs, youth, activists, farmers, fishers, experts and academics in over 158 countries; a network of around 100,000 Slow Food members linked to 1,500 local chapters worldwide (known as convivia), contributing through their membership fee, as well as the events and campaigns they organize; and over 2,500 Terra Madre food communities who practice small-scale and sustainable production of quality food around the world.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Limited Edition Slow Food Canada Mugs!

The Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands Convivium has designed limited edition enamel camping mugs as a fundraiser to send members from Vancouver Island to Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in 2016. 

  • $18 each for Slow Food members
  • $22 each for friends of Slow Food
  • Pick up available or shipping at cost
Mugs can be purchased by emailing

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2nd Annual Slow Vines & Slow Food AGM | July 12 2015 at Unsworth Vineyards

Enjoy an unforgettable 3 course locally-sourced lunch from Unsworth’s award-winning kitchen with optional wine pairings. Relax on the beautiful patio overlooking rolling vine-planted hills and gardens. Sample new releases and go behind the scenes on a private tour with winemaker Daniel Cosman. Find out what makes one of B.C.’s most successful local wineries so special!

$10 from each ticket will be donated to the Sierra Leone Slow Food Gardens in Africa community that has been heavily affected by ebola.  Many children have been left orphaned, and the challenge to recover is ongoing. 

July 12th 2015 — Unsworth Vineyards

11:30 am — Optional AGM (no ticket required). Open to all current Slow Food members. 
1:00 pm — 2nd annual Slow Vines lunch
2:00 pm — Winery tour

Tickets available via EventBrite

  • $40 for Slow Food members
  • $50 for non-members
  • $15 optional wine pairing

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Debrief from Canada's National Slow Food meeting 2015

Slow Food Canada's National meeting was held in Montreal April 22-26th, 2015. Members from Slow Food Convivia from coast to coast came together to strengthen their understanding of Slow Food concerns and to connect and share the stories from our local communities. Here are my reflections and take aways for those who you who were not able to join us in Montreal! - Jen Reiher, Communications for Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands

Ariel Tarr for Flytographer

For those of us involved in food activism on Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands it is easy to be a bit spoiled when it comes to our food; our climate and geography create a little microcosm perfect for the proliferation of 'Slow Food' principles. Life on the islands is ideally set up for a "slow" lifestyle. Our geography is practically designed for the "100 mile diet," we have a community innately drawn to supporting small & local and our growing season is longer than pretty much anywhere else in the country.

Visiting Montreal and hearing the challenges and successes happening in other provinces across the country really was an eye opening experience. In many ways our hopes for the future are so much the same - but in many ways we are truly a massive country with a diversity of experiences, perspectives and food cultures that shape the work that we do on our local levels.

Welcome to the incoming National Board President, Heather Pritchard!
What really hit home in the conversations and presentations is that there is so, so much work to be done. In many ways the food policy (or lack there of) in Canada is completely backwards and working against the philosophical agenda of Slow Food for good, clean and fair food where there is a strong connection between consumers and producers. From coast to coast I heard stories from farmers, fishermen, food activists and small producers — their small successes and big fears. We were also lucky enough to have the founder of Slow Food, Carlo Petrini, visiting from Italy who expressed that these destructions to our food systems are truly happening all across the world.

There were many threads of conversation throughout the few days we spent together that constantly emerged, and here are the big learnings that we can apply to our own activism and actions on the local level.

Ariel Tarr for Flytographer

Consumer pressure is powerful!

Every presenter who came and spoke to us spoke in some way to the power of consumer actions to make a difference on a larger scale! We make decisions every day about how to spend our money on food. Those dollars do make a difference when it comes to the actions of governments and big business!

There are several consumer-focused food activism topics that Slow Food Canada is focusing on at the moment:

Slow Fish

The Slow Fish Canada committee has really done some amazing work recently! This video sums up brilliantly the voices of the Slow Fish network & the thoughtful, passionate way in which they are navigating the challenges of consuming and producing ethical & sustainable seafood.  Bravo to the team working on tackling complex and controversial topic in a Canadian context! 

Slow Food Canada & Slow Food USA are also supportive of the Okanagan Salmon Community Initiative which, after decades of hard work and re-innovation, has started to reinvigorate the Sockeye Salmon Fishery in Osoyoos Lake. The conversation has started with the community to create a cross-border nomination of the Okanagan Sockeye as a Slow Food Presidia product. 

GM Foods

It was fabulous to hear more about GMO from the folks at CBAN (the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network). I was surprised to hear how much Canadians have played a huge part in GMO policy worldwide!

This was a very eye opening presentation for me. While there have been relatively (although I am sure some would disagree) cautious use of GMO foods for production around the world (see the full list broken down here!) there are two big changes poised that are quite shocking...

The first is that the first genetically engineered animal being produced for consumption is currently happening right here in Canada. Although it is not on the market yet, there has been any studies on the safety of the fish for either human consumption or the potential risk to ecosystems. 

The second is that although genetically modified alfalfa is not available in Canada at this time, it is available across the border in the US. What is troubling about this is that this is the first GM plant that is a perennial. This vastly increases the risk of cross-pollination between GM and non-GM plants. This is terrifying for farmers, as precedent has already been set for farmers to be sued by the companies that have patented their GM crops if cross-pollination occurs. Alfalfa is a critical crop for the production of cattle, and this is potentially a challenging position for any organic farmer with a field near to farmers growing GM alfalfa to be in! 

It is consumer pressure that has kept other GM crops off the market in the past. Find out how to contact your MP.

Raw Milk

Raw Milk has been a political issue here in BC lately, but I wasn't aware that Canada is one of the only G8 countries that bans the production & distribution of Raw Milk across the board. The independent and unfunded researcher, Nadine Ijaz, spoke very eloquently about the relative dangers of raw milk. While there are real dangers associated with consuming raw milk, her analysis shows that these dangers are statistically less likely than cooking foods like hamburger or chicken.  And yet... farmers who produce & distribute Raw Milk are being arrested. This is an opportunity for positive consumer pressure to effect change!

More on this topic can be found at

Passionate about any of these topics? National committees of Slow Food members from across Canada are being created now! Join by emailing

Ariel Tarr for Flytographer

Slow Food is a convivial & positive kind of activism

Slow Food is such a unique organization to be a part of! While food is the center of our activism, we recognize the political, social, economic and environmental pressures that shape this activism. But... we also do not lose sight of the importance of celebration and of coming together to each and truly enjoy what we consume. 

Carlo Petrini spoke so eloquently on this topic, and I think this rings true for me personally when I think about why I choose to be involved in this food movement, and this movement over any of the others I could choose to participate in! 

Ariel Tarr for Flytographer

Slow Food's strength is a network 

Sometimes, working on our local levels, it is easy to forget that Slow Food is a National & International movement as well! But we truly are - and there is so much power in tapping into our collective network to really leverage change to happen! One member of Slow Food alone will not have all the answers, but by tapping into our membership across the country and across the world in all the different projects & branches of Slow Food we CAN really make a difference.

Youth are the future of Slow Food

For the first time across Canada we had a strong representation from youth members! Several conviviums at College & University campuses have emerged, and their perspective throughout the weekend was extremely valuable. 

It stood out for many of us was how important it will be for younger generations to be connected not only to where to purchase local food, but also skills on how to use it. Many youth are lacking in cooking and food production skills, even very basic ones! Slow Food can play a part in shifting this and helping our future generations become conscious consumers. 

Ariel Tarr for Flytographer

Canada's terrior is diverse and delicious

What would a Slow Food event be without some really delicious, really locally-sourced food? It came in suitcases, by Canada Post and by foot... but it came! Here is one night's sample of the diversity of food being produced across our delicious country. 

Terroir is a bit of a foreign term in anglophone parts of Canada, and I know that we use it often in Slow Food with a little bit of explanation needed... but in Quebec the word seemed to be commonly used.  It was so delightful to be surrounded by such a strong food culture. I cannot think of a better place to experience a Slow Food meeting! 

Each course of our dinner was representative of a different regional cuisine of Canada

Top middle - Alberta charcuterie
Middle left - BC Okanagan Sockeye Tartare and Celebration Salad greens
Middle middle - Maritime fish cake in an oyster broth
Middle right - Alberta Bison & Saskatchewan lentils
Bottom left - Ontario cheeses
Bottom middle - A cheese-centric dessert from Quebec

Sunday, April 12, 2015

10 ways to eat local on a budget

We have been bamboozled about the true price of our food. Commodification, subsidies, trade deals and corporate lobbying have made industrial foods less costly than natural foods. While empty calories have gotten cheaper, nutritional value has gotten more expensive. Until our governments support our farmers, fishermen, and primary food producers like they do the multi-national corporations, eating local may present an economic challenge. 

FACT: We spend less of our income on food today than any other time in history. [source]

The politics of eating and the true price of our food is a sad state of affairs… but as part of the Slow Food movement we are more empowered to take charge of the foods we consume than most other people in the world. Yes, these tips do require more time, and more effort. Feeding yourself should, actually, considering how important it is!

Our collective effort does create momentum, don’t ever deny the benefit of even a small action. There are already many voices calling for the governmental action we need to support our local food producers. If the consumer demands good, clean and fair food, then politicians and industry will have to listen.

We won’t be perfect, we never are, but intention can mean a lot when it comes to how you choose to spend your food dollars. Do what you can when you can. 

Benefits of a local food diet:

higher nutritional content
cleaner, bolder flavours
smaller carbon footprint
stimulates a vibrant local economy
more ethical to the animal, the producer & the planet

the cost of not eating local is much too high! 

Brooke Fader is a sommelier, gardener, restaurant-owner, leader of the Slow Food Vancouver Island convivium & active member of the Slow Fish Canada committee. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Take a Field Trip with Slow Food Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands | Alderlea Farm, The Tea Farm & Ampersand Distillery


A  Biodynamic Farm,  Tea and Gin Field Trip: Only in the Cowichan Valley!
Saturday May 2 make new friends and spend an interesting day on a field trip to the Cowichan Valley. Discover the people and the philosophy behind three successful  local businesses that take pride in their organic roots. 

Participants will receive detailed directions to each stop upon registration. 
Estimated time for the tour:  
  • 9:30am Depart Victoria in individual cars or make up your own car pool 
  • 11:00am Arrive Alderlea Farm
  • 12:30pm Arrive at the Tea Farm
  • 2:00pm Arrive at Ampersand Distilling at Sol Farm
  • 3:15pm events conclude

Members: $23.00 plus fee of $2.37 
Non-Members: $28.00 plus fee of $ 2.67 
includes tastings, a home-cooked lunch and a dessert. 


Stop 1:  Suggested departure from Victoria 9:30 a.m. up the highway we go to  Alderlea Biodynamic Farm and Café just south of Duncan,  arriving at 11:00 a.m.  Co-owners Katy and John have not only prepared a choice of delicious soups and a biodynamic greens salad for our lunch, but she has baked farmhouse bread from Vancouver Island’s own Red Fyfe wheat. Hear the story of their enterprise. www,

Stop 2:  The Tea Farm: Depart Alderlea Farm at Noon and arrive at The Tea Farm at 12:30 p.m. About 10 minutes north of Duncan, our group will rendezvous in the large car park next to a charming studio/tea room overlooking a pastoral scene.  With several terraces of Camelia Senensis  firmly rooted and ready for their best year ever,  Tea Farm co-owner Victor Vesley will tell tales of sourcing fair trade, organic tea , the joys of blending plus growing their own. Enjoy several tastings and a dessert.

Stop 3:  at 1:30 pm back down the highway we go to Ampersand Distilling arriving at 2:00 pm. A gin lovers and a tomato lover’s paradise all in one stop!  Ampersand Gin mellows in a rustic distillery in the back field of Sol Farm.  Open less than a year, Ampersand Gin has already been awarded a silver medal for it’s purity and flavor.  Hear how the Schacht family took their bold idea, experimented and innovated new ways of distilling on a shoe string. Taste the fruits of their labours.

Sol Farm’s large greenhouse is bursting with seedlings and greens, as well as the last of the winter produce.  Well worth a warm look with Ramona, the farmer, answering your gardening questions.

3:15 pm we bid a fond Slow Food VI farewell to the lush valley and the local producers who work so hard to bring us their bounty.

Information:  Joan Athey 250-294-6040

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Recipes from Terra Madre Day 2014

Thank you to everyone who joined us in December for our annual Terra Madre Day! The feast and the company were both delicious. We wanted to share a few recipes from the tasty dishes we served that evening. Enjoy
~ Slow Food Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands

Albacore Tuna Rolls

Dr. John Volpe, School of Environmental Studies

The tuna rolls are found everywhere throughout Polynesia, Asian and SE Asia, each with regionally inspired tweaks in prep, batter and sauces. These are Japanese via Hawaii rolls… ;) The rolls are visually colourful and textually diverse but the secret is the overall simplicity allowing the tuna - only slightly cooked and raw in the very middle - to remain the focus. Unlike most of the world's tuna rolls, we in BC / PNW have ample access to tuna (albacore) sustainably caught by pole or troll (reject all long-line caught tuna) from healthy local populations Seachoice | Seafood Watch

Special thanks to Cowichan Bay Seafood Store for supplying the tuna for the Terra Madre event! 


Prepare wasabi-spiked soy sauce paste, tempura batter components and sauces first
Brush tuna loin with wasabi-spiked soy sauce paste
Wrap in nori sheet
Dip in ice-cold tempura batter and fry
Slice and serve immediately on bed of baby greens drizzled with wasabi-mayo and Asian chili sauce


3/4 C cornstarch
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
black pepper to taste
2 large ice cubes
The key to crispy, light tempura is to have the batter ice cold prior to frying. Therefore combine wet and dry ingredients (except ice cubes) in two separate bowls, place in freezer (or fridge for longer term) until ready.


1 troll or pole-caught BC albacore tuna loin (1-2lb) (thawed but in fridge until needed)
2 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls wasabi paste
2 Tbls water
to make a paste and brush onto loin

Garnish Sauces 

i) wasabi mayonaise
1/4 C mayonaise
11/2 Tbls soy sauce
1 Tbls fresh lime juice

ii) Asian Chili Sauce
Store bought Sriracha is fine. My favourite (and what was served at the Hudson) is Thai sweet chili sauce spiked with Frank's Red Hot. Anything that will add a bit of heat to cut the batter and a tiny bit of fruit to pop the tuna will work.


  • Heat a large fry pan with ~1" high smoke point, neutral oil 
  • Brush loin with wasabi-soy paste 
  • Cut loin into two shorter lengths so easier to handle. Loins should now be roughly the same width as the shorter edge of the nori sheet. 
  • Lay nori on countertop and place loin at one end, roll and seal trailing nori edge with water or paste (ends remain open)
  • Remove tempura ingredients from freezer, combine dry and wet ingredients and add ice cubes, stir. Batter should have consistency similar to papier mâché 
  • Using tongs, dip each tuna roll ensuring complete coverage by batter
  • Oil temperature should be 350 degF/180 degC (or bread should brown in 15 seconds)
  • Fry rolls one at a time in oil (rolls are fine to sit in tempura batter for a few minutes). 
  • Turn rolls occasionally during cooking to evenly brown batter. Maximum cooking time is ~ 2 min. Batter should be light golden and crispy while centre of tuna loin remains near raw (sashimi-like). 
  • Adjust cooking time for different sized (thickness) rolls. For instance, if you make smaller rolls to accommodate a smaller fry pan, reduce the cooking time. In all cases, as soon as tempura is light gold in colour, remove the roll (undercooking the tuna is far preferable to over)
  • Slice into thick discs and arrange on serving platter atop a bed of young greens (frisée, arugula, mizuna, escarole, baby beet greens … whatever permutation you like)
  • Rein in your inner Jaskson Pollock and conservatively drizzle the two sauces in contrasting styles in whatever way is visually pleasing (a pattern of ribbons of Asian chili and dots wasabi mayo  - anything that does not resemble a shotgun blast) 
  • Serve immediately and enjoy 

Note:You will need a large fry pan for two reasons; i) a large oil:roll ratio ensures the oil doesn't cool excessively when rolls are added, ensuring the tempura comes out light and airy. If the size of the roll overwhelms the oil, the oil will cool and the tempura will absorb oil resulting in soggy, greasy batter. ii) when the rolls hit the oil, the oil will temporarily foam and expand significantly so having a good bit of extra volume in the pan to accommodate this is essential. Both these points hold for any deep frying (e.g. frites etc.) 

Root Vegetable Soup

Brooke Fader & Oliver Kienast, Wild Mountain 

Brooke: As a chef’s wife, I do a lot of cooking, which is messy, like this recipe for soup… 

Look in the fridge and pantry and gather all root vegetables you can find, but not potatoes (which would make the soup texture grainy). For the event, I had celery root, rutabagas, parsnips, small white “hakuri” turnips, carrots, and some leftover roasted butternut squash. I found some onions, garlic and apples too. The great thing about a blended soup is you don’t have to make sure you are chopping all the vegetables nicely.


2 medium onions
2 large cloves garlic
½ large celery root
1 large rutabaga
2 medium parsnips
2 small apples
4 medium carrots
½ roasted butternut squash

In a large sauce pan, sauté your onions with vegetable oil. Add your garlic and then the rest of the vegetables. Allow to simmer for a moment and then add cold water until the vegetables are covered. If you have some white wine, deglaze first. Bay leaves are always good. Cover and turn down. Cook until vegetables are soft. Cool, blend, and pass through a sieve twice for a lovely texture. Reheat and season to taste with Vancouver Island sea salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar. Garnish with fresh slaw.


hakuri turnip
walnut oil

This is where you show off your knife skills. Chop it up nice and small.

Beer Braised Brisket & Kimchi on Savoury Nodding Onion Pancake

Brooke Fader & Oliver Kienast, Wild Mountain 

A note from Brooke: I really like this recipe because it is super delicious and employs preservation techniques (kimchi) and a tough cut of meat (brisket). It’s inspired by a Korean dish, but using local ingredients; a fine example of the inclusiveness of Canadian West Coast cuisine!


I like to ferment foods, and I made some kimchi for the event that Oliver served on his brisket. This is where I must refer you to Sandor Ellix Katz and his book the Art of Fermentation for simple directions and explanations. I encourage everyone to try fermenting their own foods. On top of digestive benefits, fermenting is a great way to preserve the harvest and add unique flavour to your cuisine. My kimchi for the event was made up of carrots, hakuri turnips, daikon, fennel, napa cabbage, chilis, garlic, leeks and ginger. 

Beer Braised Brisket

2 cups local dark beer
2 leaves fresh bay
½ tsp. toasted black peppercorns
1 litre strong beef stock*
1 large carrot
1 large onion
4 cloves garlic
½ cup diced celery root
small bundle fresh thyme
2 lb. Ravenstone Farms brisket, grass-fed and island raised

  • In a pot, ring everything except brisket to a simmer and skim top.
  • Salt well and sear the brisket in a smoking hot pan on all sides until golden brown.
  • Deglaze pan with a ladle of braising jus.
  • Add brisket to pot with drippings, cover and bake in a 300 degree oven for 3-4 hours until tender.
  • Let cool 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove meat and strain jus.
  • Combine jus and meat, cover and refrigerate over night.
  • Next day, heat until jus is warm and then remove the meat.
  • Reduce the jus until tasty and slightly think.
  • Shred the meat and return to the reduced jus.

* use homemade beef stock or Ravenstone beef stock… mass produced stocks, even organic ones, can taste of dirty dish water.

Savoury Nodding Onion Pancake

1 cup flour (sifted Red Fife Wheat is best)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
½ cup yogurt 
(or substitute milk AND yogurt for 1 cup buttermilk)
1 egg
2 tblsp. nodding onion (chive or scallions work well too)
good pinch of fresh ground black pepper

  • Sift dry ingredients together.
  • Whisk wet ingredients separately and then add to dry, stirring only briefly until barely incorporated.
  • Let sit 10 minutes.
  • Cook like mini pancakes in a cast iron pan.

To serve: mini pancake + brisket + kimchi! Enjoy with friends.

Cocktail Recipes

Ampersand Distillery

Ampersand is a fantastic addition to our food and beverage community. Their craft gin from Cowichan Valley is incredibly nuanced and floral, I really like to let the botanicals shine through.

Ampersand Gin Flip

2 oz Ampersand Gin
1 oz local honey syrup
1 fresh egg
½ oz heavy cream
Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled glass.
Can also be served warm - mix in a pan over heat and serve in a tempered glass or mug.

Brooke’s Gin Fizz

2 oz Ampersand Gin
2 oz. quince syrup*

Pour over ice and top with some sparkling water.
Garnish with flowering mint sprig.

* Quince is a hard fruit. Drop whole into boiling water to remove fuzz, like with peaches. Remove and chop, discarding seeds and stems. Put quince in a sauce pan with enough cold water to cover fruit. Bring to a boil and simmer. Cool, strain and return to pan. Add sugar to taste.

Thanks to the other participants from Terra Madre day
who shared their original ingredients & knowledge with us!

David Mincey's Chocolate Project 
Silk Road Tea 
The Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria
Ravenstone Farm and Butcher Shop 
Fol Epi 
Unsworth Vineyard
Moonstruck Cheese

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Slow Food in Canada: A Cross-Country Culinary Adventure

Slow Food advocates for a clean and fair food system in over 170 countries. In Canada, we are a volunteer organisation stretching from coast to coast, with members involved in every link of the food chain. Slow Food Edmonton’s Kevin Kossowan was tasked with capturing the diversity of the movement for the short film, What is Slow Food in Canada? In his trademark vibrant style, Kossowan’s camera takes us on a cross-country culinary journey to Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, central Alberta, Montreal, Vallee de la Batiscan, Lanaudiere, Cocagne in New Brunswick, Toronto, Tatamagouche Nova Scotia, and more,

Kossowan says, “it’s become obvious, at least to me, what Slow Food in Canada is. It’s a force, like an oversized kid that doesn’t know its own strength. As an aggregate, the projects the people on the ground are having across the country are dramatically changing the face of good, clean, and fair food… showing me the best of our country through the lens of Slow Food.”

The piece is subtitled in both English and French and celebrates our complex and creative Canadian culinary identity.

Watch the SLOW FOOD in CANADA video from Kevin Kossowan on Vimeo