Terroir Hospitality Symposium: 10-years on and still going strong

Last Monday (April 26), Terroir Symposium, Canada’s most influential gathering of the biggest and brightest culinary minds, celebrated its 10th milestone.

An annual highlight for the hospitality industry, the not-for profit organization has grown from a Southern Ontario-based conference to an international gastronomic event. Not only a rich learning environment for busy industry insiders, it’s a forum that continue to encourage the development of a strong community, attracting headliners including Fergus Henderson, Rene Redzepi, Albert Adria, David Chang, and Dominique Crenn, recently recognized as the World’s 50 Best’s “Best Female Chef.”

This edition saw over 700 chefs, food and beverage experts, and business leaders take over the Art Gallery of Ontario. A fitting venue for the theme of art, culture and technology, the spectacular space provided the room required for the numerous concurrent workshops and curated experiences scheduled.

For some attendees, Terroir is about having access to and learning from influential presenters. Speakers were challenged to present Pecha Kucha-style, sharing their concise story in 20 slides at 20-seconds each.

“Be different” was the message from up-and-comer Edouardo Jordan of Seattle’s Salare. The Food & Wine Best New Chef spoke about his training (The French Laundry, Per Se and Lincoln), being a black chef in fine dining, and the lack of relatable mentors.

Welcoming Mark Best (Marque, Australia) and Quique Dacosta (Spain) to this year’s podium, the renowned chef-restauranteurs shared their stories, a glimpse into the new culinary approaches at their restaurants, which may include finding inspiration beyond physical stimuli. In fact, Dacosta opened minds with how he is able to tap into emotions to create his avant-guard cuisine.

It seemed apropos to have such a progressive thinker at the decade-old forum: never resting on its laurels, Terroir has evolved. Replacing the classroom format, it’s now amphitheaters bursting with social media savvy attendees Instagramming seminar highlights. From “celebrating traditions,” themes actively pursue a “sense of place” and attempt to “pioneer change.”

Others appreciate the networking opportunities at Terroir – valuable connections that have led to collaborations, business opportunities, or influence policy change, like it did in 2015 for direct fisher-to-restaurant sales in Newfoundland and Labrador.

New this year, the spectacular venue played host to immersive art installations. Sensory stimulating stories told through a photographer’s lens were shared by New York’s Penny De Los Santos and UK’s David Griffen. Jakub Dzamba of Third Millennium Farming constructed an acrylic “high-rise” filled with sustainable, high-protein cricket tenants to explore the concept of urban agriculture. There was even a stunning recreation of van Gogh’s The Starry Night by Toronto chef Charlotte Langley using buttercream icing pipped with a star-tip, naturally, on canvas.

Throughout the day, symposium guests were fed an ambitious plant-based menu. Meatless wonders that surprised the crowd ranged from Amanda Cohen’s (Dirt Candy, New York City) intensely-coloured and delicious beetroot sliders to fields of jewel-like bonbons and miniature pastries glistening under the soaring atrium of Walker Court.

Jam-packed with new ideas and relationships, the day ended as most good parties do, with more food – a collaborative dinner between 16 chefs charged to create their rendition of “the idea of North” that included smoked sturgeon, caviar, and canard roti. At a rural retreat the next day at Ocala Orchards, the celebration continued over a wood-fire pit cooked feast and plenty of cake, and many raised glasses to founder Arlene Stein and her team’s continued work in enhancing the Canadian hospitality industry.

Terroir will return in 2017. Watch their website for details and dates.

—Photos and story by Renée Suen 

EAT Magazine is a sponsor of Terroir




Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (1) TRIO

Hans Vogels (Momofuku Noodle Bar) who served a breakfast ramen that kicked off the symposium takes a quick break to chat with Todd Perrin (Mallard Cottage) and Mark Best (Marque).


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (3) LADIES

Terroir is a great place for many in the food and drink industry to catch up. Pictured: Eshun Mott, Emma Waverman, Carole Belmonte (Belmonte Raw), Jackie Kai Ellis (Beaucoup Bakery & Café), Rossy Earle (SupiCuco Sauce), and Pay Chen. Kai Ellis, Beaucoup’s owner-pastry chef, designer, and travel writer later gave a presentation about authenticity in marketing and branding.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (6) LEPINE

Ottawa chef Marc Lepine eyes one of the edible potato starch creations he made for the palate-to-plate workshop.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (7) STARRY

Toronto chef Charlotte Langley’s rendition of van Gogh’s The Starry Night recreated with buttercream icing pipped with a star-tip on canvas.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (9) FLYNN

Attendees were also introduced to Christine Flynn, executive chef of Toronto’s iQ Food Co, but known worldwide as the mastermind behind the satirical Instagram account @chefjaqueslamerde.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (12) CANDY

New York’s Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy was the headlining chef at the plant-based lunch, serving vegetable sliders including crispy yuba beets and beet “pastrami.”


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (16) WALKER COURT

The Art Gallery of Ontario’s Walker Court buzzing with delegates feasting on desserts and cocktails prior to the afternoon sessions.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (20) PHOTOS

Photographer (Renée Suen) shooting a photographer (Rick O’Brien, in red) shooting another photographer (John Gundy) taking a stylized portrait of Noah Witenoff, Food Stylist at nustyling.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (24) LIU

Natalie Goldenberg-Fife (Senior Editor of CityBites, Culinary Program Director for IDMG Culinary Marketing) with Nick Liu, chef owner of DaiLo in Toronto.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (26) CHARTIER

Montreal’s François Chartier, a pioneer in creating recipes through food and wine pairings, surprises audience members with the tip that chocolate pairs well with asparagus.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (36) DACOSTAInnovative Spanish chef Quique Dacosta speaks about how he taps into emotions to create his avant-guard cuisine, and how those plates evolve as he similarly evolves.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (30) BESTMark Best of Marque in Sydney, Australia shares a glimpse of images from his new cookbook, Best Kitchen Basics: A Chef’s Companion For Home.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (38) CAKE

Yummy Stuff Bakery made the two-tiered – white and carrot – birthday cake to celebrate the symposium that founder Arlene Stein dreamt up at the top of her basement staircase back in 2006. Starting with a focus on Southern Ontario, Terroir has grown into a national, and now, international event attracting the likes of Quique Dacosta (modern movement in Denia and Valencia, Spain), Mark Best (Marque in Sydney, Australia), who joins Fergus Henderson, Rene Redzepi, Ben Shewry and David Chang as notable international speakers.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (39) PIKETeam fish included Owen Steinberg (Harvest Kitchen) and Peter Shambrook (Detour Cafe, Dundas) who grilled walleyed pike.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (43) FOOD JORDAN

Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, Edouardo Jordan of Seattle’s Salare, shows us how a professional (who trained at The French Laundry, Herbfarm, Per Se and Lincoln) plates his food.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (44) FOOD DESOUSA

Calgary’s CHARCUT and Charbar’s Connie DeSousa digs into the day’s offerings.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (45) BANGERTER

Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall (Cambridge) collaborated with Nick Benniger from Nick & Nat’s/Taco Farm (Waterloo) to prepare the bevy of roasted vegetable platters.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (46) SPREAD

Along with the vegetable platters from Jason Bangerter of Langdon Hall (Cambridge) and Nick Benniger from Nick & Nat’s/Taco Farm (Waterloo), there was grilled whole salmon by Ryan O’Donnell of Mercer Hall in Stratford.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (48) LAMB

Travis Barron from Northwinds Brewhouse (Collingwood) and Shaun Edmonstone of Bruce Wine Bar (Thornbury) did a scene-stealing roasted lamb – done in pieces, hanging from a tripod set up in Ocala’s orchard.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (51) GROUP

The delegates who braved the chilly weather to hang out by the wood fire pits outside.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (55) OCALA

Ontario chefs from Thornbury all the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake cooked up a feast for the hungry crowds, with Port Perry’s Ocala Orchards & Winery acting as the backdrop where presenters mingled and sipped on Sapsucker maple water and Ontario wines and beers.


Renee Suen - April 2016 - Eat - Terroir  (56)

Terroir presenters from all corners of the world included: Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year, David Griffen; writer and Beaucoup Bakery owner, Jackie Kai Ellis; film professional and co-owner of MOSHIMO Nicholas Röhl; artist and food writer Carolyn Phillips; and artist Barbara Walker, owner of Jamaica’s Mockingbird Hill Hotel.

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