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NAIT Shifting Focus to Local Food

03.19.11

Nope, not from my garden. Not wild. Not from my cellar, and not even from a local farm. But indirectly, entirely about the change in tide towards local food. How, you ask?

I was invited to this meal as a guest – and there’s no question it was expertly prepared by NAIT Culinary Arts students, under guidance of super-celeb-chef Susur Lee. Others have covered the lovely lunch experience here, here, and I’m sure elsewhere.

What’s interesting here to me is that the lobster wasn’t from here [clearly, we're roughly 5000km from the Atlantic], nor the goat cheese [our local artisan producer should forgive them this time], and even the lamb was from New Zealand, which I’m sure hurts the feelings of local lamb producers [and carbon-footprint-trackers]. The dessert was a lovely visit to tropical islands – 5000km+ the opposite direction from the lobster. I know. I’m hardcore about my local food. The 8500km stretch between first course and last was hard to get my head around. What can I say, I don’t get out much.

Given the title of the post and content thusfar, you may think I’m being facetious, but I’m not. The point here is that a few days later I received an email from the cooking school, asking if I would consult, speak, and otherwise work with them as an ‘expert’ in local food. They have a mandate to source more local ingredients for their demos and menus. Fantastic. I’m meeting with them in a few days to see how I can help. I’m proud that our local culinary school has the gumption to challenge conventional institutional buying practices in an effort to embrace local foods. Good on them. May other large organizations follow their lead.

4 Responses

  1. Maki says:

    That is so fantastic Kevin. And you are truly the PERFECT person for the job. Kudos to all your hard work, it’s definitely noticed and appreciated.

  2. habanerogal says:

    NAIT has such a fantastic program going and once they embrace local food they will be setting an example that all of the students can carry into their chosen career. Great choice having you as the educator !

  3. I have always appreciated how you know yourself and your fit and speak your mind so sensibly. We are, on the Alberta prairies, very close to our earth. We certainly appreciate the delicacies of the oceans and the tropics… but, I really appreciate how more and more people, step by step, are understanding the importance of “eating the seasons”. That can be particularly difficult in a seasonal cooking course when there is a curriculum to be taught, but it is still very possible. I am so excited that they have invited you to speak to their students and I will be looking for much greater leadership on this front from the NAIT Culinary Institute in the future.
    :)
    Valerie

  4. Isabelle says:

    That’s really great news, Kevin. I can’t wait to see what you and NAIT come up with!

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