The 2012 Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance's Summit attracted a diverse crowd of tourism operators, employees of regional associations, and media. This year's event was held on October 25 at London's Convention Centre.
After opening remarks the floor was passed to James Withers of Scotland Food and Drink for his keynote address. The morning's schedule was packed with informative sessions on OpenTable, crunching the numbers of culinary tourism, and the Canadian Tourism Council's signature experiences programme.
For lunch we were treated to a selection of bite-sized samples from several local food producers. Summit guests were also offered a selection of beer and wine, including a new honey beer from local brewery, Railway City.
In the afternoon's panel discussion on Sport, Heritage, and Culture that also featured Chris Gibbs from Ryerson University and Michel Gauthier from the Ontario Garden Tourism Coalition it was, naturally, Nick Foglia's beer-focused discussion that caught my attention. As a regular writer about beer there was a lot for me in Foglia's presentation about how Black Creek Pioneer Village started the Black Creek Historic Brewery with the help of brewing partner Trafalgar Ales. With the success they've had placing some of their delicious product in the LCBO it follows naturally that the beer operation attracts 20% of Black Creek's media attention.
Networking is almost as important as the formal presentations at these events so it's no surprise that OCTA's Executive Director, Rebecca LeHeup had to take a firm hand with the chatting crowd as the afternoon's cocktail competition kicked off. Andrew Coppelino of Waterloo Region Eats introduced competitors Jessie Larsens (Mercer Hall in Stratford) and Christina Kuypers (soon to be open Gwailo in Toronto) to the audience and then to the black box filled with local ingredients that they'd have to draw from for their creations.
Both chose to make a gin-based drink but in the end the judging panel (led by keynote speaker James Withers) narrowly preferred Kuypers' Sage Advice cocktail.
Some of the biggest news out of London came on Tuesday, the day after the OCTA Summit, as the broader Ontario Tourism Summit wrapped up with an awards ceremony that included two culinary categories. The 2012 Culinary Tourism Experience Award went to The Culinary Adventure Company and Taste-Real, Guelph Wellington won the 2012 Culinary Tourism Leadership Award.
Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance