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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

o-CNN: Lots of Talented Little Plates with Huge Flavour at Banff's Big Taste 2017 Food Festival in Banff, Alberta

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Food festivals are for the locals. Every community should embrace any and all opportunities for a culinary event. We don't have enough food festivals in Canada. We need more.

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There are so many communities cultivating and manufacturing unique produce across the diverse food production landscape of Canada. Wine, berries, bison, beef, barley, wheat, corn, truffle, lobster, maple are only a few that immediately comes to mind. The craft brewery scene is exploding. There are new entrants in every Province. Craft distilleries are not far behind.

Canada is not the first place that comes to mind for artisan food production when one considers the vast wintry expanse of our country. It is more a feature of a place like New Zealand. Yet, it is hard to choose where not to go for a gastronomic celebration any time of the year. We have Icewine festivals, maple festivals, bbq events, berry, tea, whisky, beer, lobster, scallop, salmon, and a mushroom festivals. There is even a vegetarian food festival if you must.

It seems that everyone is trying to tap into the food festival craze and opportunity to market their place. Local tourism associations and marketers are clambering over each other to market their locations as the next undiscovered hot food destination of the year. They are all doing fantastic work and have our full support. We think that we need more culinary celebrations. We are encouraged by their efforts. Here is why.

Firstly, food festivals are good for the community. Any reason to celebrate is good for the morale of a group of people that share space, live and work together. It brings people closer. The best of these celebrations are when people come together around food and drink.

A festival brings the local residents together to interact with each other. With food festivals, participating businesses are more inclined to collaborate by sharing in activities, creating and making things together. People get to showcase the results of their hard work to visitors and to fellow citizens. Ultimately, a food festival is an opportunity for community members to engage by supporting each other in the most fundamental of production endeavours - making food. It is not surprising that the majority of attendees of these festivals are the people most vested in the event. The locals are the biggest supporters by far.

Secondly, it is good for the economy. Festivals create opportunities for markets (events within the event). Entrepreneurs and producers get access to an offset that goes beyond what they reach on a regular basis with their store or general distribution.

Food festivals encourage enterprise. If there is a market, then there are opportunities to deliver to the market's needs. New producers step in to fill these needs which mean more businesses. More food is produced locally. New products are innovated and tested. The increased competition serves to improve standards. Ultimately, the economy benefits because it encourages tourism and visitation to local communities. These both come with increased earnings and revenue. It is valuable income for the people of our farms, towns and cities.


It is with this worthy realisation of the benefits of food festivals that we attended Banff's Big Taste.

It is the most recent addition to the food festival calendar for the Bow Valley of Alberta. The first food festival event for us in 2017. Thankfully, the Banff Hospitality Collective stepped forward to give us an excuse to celebrate the talents of local chefs and the great produce of our Canadian food producers. Celebrate we did! Thank you!

Banff's Big Taste was our chance to sip, savour and experience Banff's exciting culinary scene all in one place, with some excellent pairings. This is not just a statement. It is a profound discovery. We found that the standard improved substantially over recent years to make Banff's culinary offerings rival the natural beauty of the setting. The Banff Hospitality Collective is raising the bar with new talent, new venues, locally sourced produce and innovative offerings like Canada's first craft distillery inside a three-story restaurant - Park Distillery.

The events included chefs dinners, the grand tasting hall that we featured in the video above, spirit seminars (the drinking kind) and the jolly nightlife of a cold winter mountain town full of young, affluent adventure seeking (mostly) Australians.

It was five days of deliciousness that gave us yet another reason to make a frequent stop in Banff in the New Year. We have our calendars marked for 2018!

Hendrik van Wyk
Festive Food Cowboy

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