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Terroir: The Taste of Place

Last year was a first.

Never before had restaurant leaders sat down to a professional event with such a high-minded name as Terroir, A Sense of Place. Essentially, terroir means that you can taste a place because the land and meteorology imparts unique flavours to the food that emerges from it, the animals who feed from it and the byproducts of those animals. Like cheese. A brie made in Lyon won’t taste like a Normandy brie. Each area produces milk that is different and unique.

Terroir is the work of Arlene Stein and a collective of hospitality professionals known as Eau De Vie, a group dedicated to advancing the business of running great restaurants. Arlene is also Hart House’s Director of Catering and Events.

Gremolata’s editor Malcolm Jolley, Eau De Vie’s Arlene Stein and Veronique Peloquin

She hit an exciting chord with the industry. Tickets sold out in flash, and over 200 restaurateurs, wine makers, chefs, writers and aficionados gathered in the great hall of the University of Toronto’s Hart House for a memorable day.

The panels were superb, particularly the wine discussion about Niagara’s sub-appellations, because nothing personifies terroir better than wine.

Besides that, the food was spectacular. Lunch was the work of Jason Pearson from Peller Estates.

I met some wonderful people, like Sommelier Tammy Dopson, with whom I developed a great friendship and professional alliance throughout 2007. We did great work together, including our infamous Sherry Dinner, and we currently got a new project in the works. I was also introduced to Charmaine Baan, with whom I have crossed paths many times before but had never actually met. I got to see her action doing a Dish Cooking Studio class as a preparation for doing a future class myself.

This year, Terroir [March 4] has added meaning for me.

Thanks to Gremolata‘s Malcolm Jolley, I have been asked to join the panel to discuss Southern Ontario food. I’m humbled to be in the company on that day of such accomplished bright lights as Chef-Entrepreneur Donna Dooher, Vertical Executive Chef Tawfik Shehata, Dish Cooking School Maven Trish Magwood, CBC Broadcaster Matt Galloway, Kultura Executive Chef Roger Mooking and AGO Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich. I’ll be need to be on my toes.

Yours in good food and the taste of place

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*Spanish for: "Mmm. Wow. That's good!"