Anita Stewart, Culinary Activist
Anita Stewart, C.M., LLD (Hon), M.A (Gastronomy), P.Ag (Hon)
Springing from rural roots, Anita Stewart as been over the side of icebreakers into work boats in the North Pacific to visit every manned light-station on that coast to meet their keepers. She’s traveled by dog sled and snowmobile to Cree hunt camps in Northern Quebec. She’s blasted out to Hibernia, the most easterly bastion of Canadian cuisine on the continent. She’s scuba dived for sea cucumbers and urchin in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and bucktail fly- fished for salmon in Discovery Passage. She defined the term “Canadian culinary tourism” while it was still an oxymoron and she continues to push to make it an important scholarly discipline.
In those early nationalistic journeys she cultivated a network of friends which in 1994 was translated into Cuisine Canada, the first and still only, pan-Canadian culinary alliance of food professionals. She was Chair of the Board for a number of years. Her writing spans country inns and farm markets, hotels and, naturally, our phenomenal agricultural heritage. Her speaking engagements, lectures and broadcasts on CBC Radio One tell similar stories.
She has consulted for The University of Guelph and developed the OAC Food Inventory which honours the researchers who, over the years, have put so many new cultivars onto Canada’s tables.. She also coordinated the food for three of that university’s high level think tanks on Canadian political and agricultural issues. They took place in Elora.
She was contracted by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada to co-host two media breakfasts with Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Gerry Ritz; the first at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver; the second at the 20-011 Calgary Stampede.
Working with both Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Department of Canadian Heritage, she has brought real Canadian cuisine to both the national and international stage at events such as the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto and the Worlds Fair in Hannover, Germany in 2000. She was on the senior team of consultants which wrote a Culinary Tourism Strategy for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and was the “Sage on the Stage” at the Culinary Tourism Symposium held in Toronto March 6/7/8, 2005, the first Culinary Tourism Symposium ever planned and expedited by Canadians. She continues to work in that field as part of the team that is currently reviewing that strategy.
The Canadian Tourism Commission’s US Media Team convinced her that it’d be a cool idea to collaborate with them in 2006 to create the menu for CELSIUS! A Canadian Lounge, in Bryant Park, deep in the heart of New York City’s Financial District.
In April, 2007 she was the keynote speaker, sponsored by Ontario Tourism, at the CTC’s Media Marketplace, the annual event in the U.S. that promotes Canadian tourism to the top travel communicators in America. Working with the Canadian Tourism Commission she live streamed directly into the homes/offices of US media from a talent-filled kitchen at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.
On July 7, 2003, started a nation-wide backyard/lakeside/main street Canadian beef barbecue. Billed as Canada Day 2! The World’s Longest Barbecue, it was conceived in support of Canadian agriculture and specifically the beleaguered beef industry. An invitation was issued and on Saturday, August 2, 2003 at 6 p.m. in whatever time zone they were in, thousands of Canadians participated, some from as far a field as Baffin Island, Japan, Australia and the U.K. The grassroots of Canada, wherever they were, played – they also spoke! It was an overwhelming success! In every region, real Canadians barbecued real Canadian cuisine. From that day forward she has issued a similar challenges to Canadians far and wide to toss all sorts of Canadian ingredients onto their grills. Thousands have participated and the annual, mid-summer event has evolved into Food Day Canada.
“Anita Stewart’s mission is to take Canadian cuisine out from under its bushel, to lead the world to a new awareness. If anyone can do it, it’s this dining dynamo.”
-Campbell Cork, The KW Record, Kitchener