Try This : A Young Vines Xinomavro

2013 Thymiopoulos “Young Vines” Xinomavro, Macedonia, Greece (Alcohol 13.5%) LCBO Vintages $17.95

And the award for LCBO bargain of 2016 goes to this stunning Young Vines Xinomavro. Simply astounding.

This last-minute candidate for my most recommended wine of 2016 was brought to my attention by the intrepid Will Predhomme, and I’m so very glad that I followed up upon his endorsement and travelled across Toronto to track down a few bottles.

As far as I can see, the west end of the city is now pretty much devoid of inventory, but if you live outside the city or in the east you should be able to scour the shelves for some. I’ll be out on the hunt for some myself this very afternoon, so if you spot some downtown please be in touch ASAP.

These young vines appear to be able to produce the impossible, an eminently approachable Xinomavro with only three years of ageing, and in a wallet-friendly offering present all of the delicious things that this much under-appreciated varietal is capable of.

You’ll find some of the gorgeous, fresh, pretty fruit that one often finds in better Pinot Noirs, as well as a gentle but determined tannic architecture that is in many ways reminiscent of the Langhe Nebbiolo. Bright berry fruit abounds, with pleasantly striking cranberry-like acidity that really comes to the fore with a bit of a chill on the bottle.

Gorgeous, and way under-priced.
5 apples out of 5
(Five apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that one cracking bottle of wine.

Book Review : The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald

The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook – Chris McDonald (Robert Rose)

This season I’m overjoyed that I’m able to wholeheartedly recommend a couple of books by two friends from Toronto with nary a hint of cronyism, both this particular book and Volcanic Wines : Salt, Grit and Power by John Szabo.

What with small water circulators having fallen drastically in price recently (one can pick up a pretty decent one for as little as $200), Chris McDonald’s first cookbook could not have come at a more opportune moment. Some two years in the making, this book reflects the attention to detail upon which McDonald built his enviable reputation as one of Canada’s most formidable and knowledgeable Chefs.

Before I cracked the spine I was a little concerned that an overzealous Editor would strip much of McDonald’s gloriously eccentric personality in order to make the book more palatable for a general audience, but my fears turned out to be unfounded. Even within the confines of the opening chapter The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook is pure, unadulterated Chris McDonald, leaving no stone unturned, no detail or reference overlooked, in his quest to teach the reader the mastery of the sous vide process, as well as a plethora of fascinating side quests.

Indeed it is these side quests, these sidebars, these nuggets of well-researched additional/explanatory material that make this book so appealing to me. Meticulously cross-referenced, many of the recipes expand into succinct and persuasive studies of particular areas of food culture, kitchen nomenclature or culinary history. It could be said that often the recipes feel like a conversation about a dish with McDonald himself, and this no bad thing ; I should know as I have had a fair number of them over the years.

The recipes range from the easily accessible to some complex beasts that are undeniably more “Chef level”. Whilst the latter can certainly be multi-layered and time consuming, they give the reader a valuable insight into the fastidious work that goes into the execution of restaurant-quality dishes, and how, with focused application, these can be replicated at home.

Despite the many stages involved in some dishes, McDonald sets out every set of steps in a manner that shouldn’t intimidate the ambitious home cook too much. A word of advice though : read your chosen recipe through very carefully before you begin (or go shopping for that matter!), as many are Russian Dolls that contain adjunct recipes within that may require you to set aside a little more time or pick up a few additional ingredients to complete a dish to McDonald’s exacting specifications.

As the back of the book says “Enjoy Restaurant-Quality Food At Home With The Simple Press Of A Button”. Over the past two weeks I have worked through around six of McDonald’s recipes, and the results have been nothing less than outstanding.

A highly recommended addition to your kitchen library, and along with an immersion circulator it is the perfect Xmas gift for someone interested in exploring this wholly different approach to cooking.

(Five apples out of a possible five)

P.S. In our first issue of GFR of 2017 I’ll be reviewing the aforementioned Sansaire Immersion Circulator.


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s really enjoying this cookbook.

Book Review : Volcanic Wines (Salt, Grit And Power) By John Szabo MS

Volcanic Wines : Salt, Grit and Power by John Szabo MS (Jacqui Small)

This season I’m overjoyed that I’m able to thoroughly recommend a couple of books by two friends from Toronto with nary a hint of cronyism, both this particular book and The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook by Chris McDonald.

I have been following the development of this book rather closely over the past few years, and, to be quite honest, at some points wondered whether it was ever actually going to come to fruition. Well, I’m delighted to tell you that this book was certainly worth the wait, and in the slow lead up to the book’s publication, author John Szabo MS rather cunningly entrenched himself into the wine world’s collective minds as “Mr. Volcanic“, whilst at the same time gently massaging the appreciation of said wines into becoming the vinous zeitgeist of 2016/17, an undeniably genius marketing move that would put Don Draper and cohorts to shame.

The book itself is an astonishing piece of work, both aesthetically and with the level of research layered within its extremely informative and entertaining prose. The photography is stunning, testament to the striking vineyards in question, and is all the more impressive when one understands that most of the pictures were taken by Szabo, who taught himself photography throughout the lengthy gestation and evolution of the book.

Volcanic Wines also contains enough fastidiously-detailed maps to keep even the extreme wine map fetishist satiated. And that is no mean feat as those hardcore wine map fetishists are a tough bunch to pleasure.

Essential to this book’s appeal was, for me, the regional chapter-closing roundups of Szabo’s preferred producers and their wines. Whilst I didn’t always agree with every one of his picks (I think I’m going to have to re-taste a couple of those Hungarians), I was introduced to so many wines I was unfamiliar with, and will now, upon his recommendations, go out of my way to track them down and try them out for myself. He must have tasted through a serious shedload of wines on his travels researching this book!

While there is a hefty enough chunk of academic-leaning discussion concerning geology and the like that will undoubtedly satisfy the most knowledge-hungry wine professional, there is enough wit and charm in Szabo’s words to appeal to the curious wine novice also. And herein lies Volcanic Wines’ general appeal, as even with the book’s fact-dense format, there’s an approachability that makes this delightful book a coffee table essential for 2017.

I’d like to dock him at least half an apple for missing out the Oxford comma in the title, but no, this is undeniably a five apple recommendation, and a must for the wine-lover in your life.
5 apples out of 5
(Five apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And with this book that Szabo character knocks it out of the park. Congratulations.

Young Blood Sommelier : Liz Martinez

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS' Volcanic Wines book launch.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS’ Volcanic Wines book launch.

In the third of an fourteenth (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario (and occasionally from further afield). A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers. Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars.

In our last Young Blood Sommelier of 2016 we speak with Elizabeth “Liz” Martinez, Beverage Director and Sommelier at Chicago’s famed The Purple Pig.


Good Food Revolution: So Elizabeth, what is it that you are doing these days?

Elizabeth “Liz” Martinez: My position is pretty expansive right now, but for the most part, my role is to oversee everything beverage at TPP. I curate the wine list, oversee the process of creating new cocktails, and train the staff on my wine list.

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?

EM: Well I’ve always worked in restaurants, mostly high end, high volume, James Beard award winning, and Michelin star rated. My love of wine started at a restaurant that I worked at, years ago in San Francisco, called Boulevard. When I moved to Chicago, I started realizing that I wanted to start working towards my goal of being a sommelier. The restaurant that I worked and trained at was Rick Bayless’ fine dining restaurant, Topolobampo. My position there was pretty involved as well, I ran the dining room and worked as assistant somm. After teaching myself, reading a lot, training on blind tasting, and working with the wine director there, I passed my certification exam with the Guild of Master Sommeliers in 2010.

GFR: How would you describe your role at The Purple Pig?

EM: Ha! Well TPP is an interesting place. Keeping up with the wine list can be difficult. We pour almost 90 wines by the glass at any time. Mostly you’ll find me in the dining room running service, and acting as a cheerleader for the wine program, which is very important for what we do. TPP motto is “cheese, swine and wine”, so I’ve got my work cut out for me. Not only that, we are definitely one of the busiest restaurants of our caliber in the US.

GFR: You have worked in a number different types of places… how does The Purple Pig compare?

EM: I tend to gravitate towards restaurants that have a lot of energy. TPP does not disappoint! Very high energy and very high volume. The main difference is that we have a more casual dining room experience, with communal dining. That makes for a pretty crowded environment.

GFR: How open do you find the clientele to trying new things when it comes to wines? Is there a specific style of wine that the demographic crave? And just what is that demographic?

EM: We have a pretty diverse clientele at TPP. We have a pretty large “foodie” base, but then again, there is a lot of tourism in our area too, so I have to be prepared for everyone. The main thing is that even when I do choose wines for the more pedestrian palate, it’s always going to be the best example of that. In terms of the more obscure wines on the list, my staff is trained to dig deeper, and navigate the list with our guests. We are definitely well known for having hard to find, interesting wines, and we have absolutely no domestic wine on our list, whatsoever.

GFR: What’s the size and scope of the wine program that you run?

EM: Typically I have anywhere from 240-250 wines on the list, of which 80-90 wines, including port, sherry and madeira, we will offer by the glass.

GFR: What sets Chicago apart as a wine and food city?

EM: Well, Chicago is an interesting place. There are a lot of “salt of the earth”, kind of blue collar people that live here. To me, that translates to passion, hard work, and creativity. Not to mention that we are pretty land locked here, so even though we are a major hub, we are not always getting the same food products that other places are. We have to be more inventive.

GFR: Now, how do I word this? Have you drunk the “Natural Wine Kool Aid”? I’m just kidding, how do you feel about the scene?

EM: Ya know, I’m not super on board. I can appreciate these old school techniques, and I get that this is where wine’s origins came from, but I like my wine to taste good. That’s why I love wine. Finesse, elegance and grace. The craft and evolution of  winemaking over the years has taken the wine industry where it is today.  That’s important to me.

GFR: Does your job allow you to travel much? Where have you been lately?

EM:Up until this year, I haven’t been able to travel much. Thankfully, my bosses have started to realize how important the travel is to what we are doing. In June, I travelled through Greek wine country, (which coincidentally is where I met my boyfriend, Nick Liu, of Toronto) and just a couple of months ago, I travelled through Northern Italy.

GFR: What makes for a good agent/supplier in your mind?

EM:Someone who is proactive. Nothing worse than having to chase people around because wine didn’t show up, or because there are vintage changes. Someone who anticipates your needs.

GFR: And what makes for a bad agent/supplier?

EM: One who is never around, or who just shows up and tries to push things on you. Also, I’ve had a few who were very condescending. That REALLY grinds my gears. It’s one thing to be informative to your buyers, but another thing to completely to speak down to them.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Do you ever see any in your market? 

EM: To be honest, I haven’t tried any, but I hear that Prince Edward county is making some interesting wines. We don’t really see Canadian wines in Chicago. Oh! Years ago at Topolobampo, we did pair a Canadian dessert wine with one of our courses on a tasting menu. It was an Eiswein [sic] style of wine. It was delicious!

GFR: Do you think that your customers would be open to Canadian wines?

EM: The wines on my list are all from across the pond, so it doesn’t really makes sense, however, my staff are really on board with my choices, so if I were to find something yummy and promoted it, my servers would definitely be able to convince our guests to try them.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS' Volcanic Wines book launch.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS’ Volcanic Wines book launch.

GFR: Just as there is from everywhere in the world, there is quite a lot of dreadful wine coming from Ontario also. How do you feel about the issue of people simply promoting something because of it being local, and not because of its quality?

EM: It’s definitely an issue. There’s nothing wrong with promoting local products, in fact, I’m very much in favor of it, but the product needs to be good, thoughtful, and well crafted, for me to get behind it.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age? 

EM: Well I’m pretty sure that it surprised my family, the fact that this is the direction that I took with my life. If there was any wine around when I was a kid, it was the awful wine in jugs that they sold at the store. My parents were hippies, so we grew up around parties at the house, where everyone was smoking joints and drinking beers. Not to mention that my father was Mexican, so I always wished that I could drink their margaritas and tequila. To this day, I still love a margarita that’s made with love and fresh lime juice!

GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?

EM:Maybe? It was probably some of that awful jug wine, years ago in my youth. My first revelation in wine came in 1997 or so, when I was introduced to non mass produced wines from Italy, at a restaurant that I worked at in Denver, Colorado.

GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

EM: Early! My ex husband was a chef from France. My son would always drink a little glass of wine with lunch, and with the family. It was an experience that brought everyone together. After that, I would let him have sips of wine, as long as he assessed the wine with me. Aromas, flavors… to this day that kid has a better palate than the average human being.

GFR: When did you first decide that you would like a career in wine?… and was it with a view to being a Sommelier yourself?

EM: The first time that I thought of pursuing a career in wine was at that Italian restaurant, years ago. I fell in love with wine! At that point in my life though, I guess that I didn’t really know what a Sommelier was. More, I was thinking of getting in to sales, or something along those lines.

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

EM: The wine director at Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco was so inspiring!! The epitome of wine nerd. People that have a true love of what they are doing, and are able to spread that message to their staff will always stand out to me. That’s who I aspire to be.

GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious arseholes, and after seeing that film Somm I worry about the emergence of a new Bro culture… I’d love to hear your thoughts?

EM: Ha! Well I would hate to say anything about these people that have worked so hard to get to the positions that they are in. That being said, I understand that there are always going to be people like that in every field. It certainly doesn’t help that there is a sudden love affair with the food and wine culture.  It has created foodie “groupies”, sort of. I feel very lucky that there is a great community of women Somms in Chicago. For the most part, women that are all very hard working and down to earth. Bro culture? Well, let’s hope that the visionaries are the ones that shine through.

GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

EM: Well I lived in California for many years, so I was able to visit many areas in Northern California multiple times..The Loire Valley is lovely. My ex husband was from there, so we were able to tour that area of France a bit. This summer in Greece, I started out on the island of Santorini, flew up to Naoussa and Amyndeon, and then finished up Greece in Nemea, the peninsula across from Athens. Northern Italy was my most recent trip, where we started out in Piemonte, (Alba and Asti), followed by Tuscany, (Chianti and Montalcino). The next leg of the trip moved more East, with Emilia-Romagna and Lambrusco country, followed by Soave and Valpolicella. The last part of that trip was breathtaking, with The Dolomites, Alto-Adige in particular. Hoping to hit up France again, Burgundy, hopefully, and Spain next year. I’ve also been sending hints to one of my suppliers about Valtellina, in Northern Italy, an area that fascinates me.

GFR: Have you ever made your own wine?

EM: Goodness no! That’s next on the list!!!

GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

EM: Either Northern Italy, or Burgundy.

GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?

EM: Hmmmmm maybe a bit of both. If I had enough time, I could certainly get more immersed and nerdy with my bottle selections, but at the end of the day, I’m a hospitality professional. I like creating experiences for my guests. That all starts with managing your staff.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS' Volcanic Wines book launch.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS’ Volcanic Wines book launch.

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

EM: Well my first job as a teenager was at McDonalds. We call that the chubby era. Not necessarily a low, for a teenager, but the lowest probably. I still learned quite a bit, took it for what it was. This year has to be the high. It has been an incredibly difficult year for me, as we are soooooooo busy, and I’ve lately had a lot more exposure. This requires writing, which I love, but there’s something about being in the spotlight that I guess that I don’t feel comfortable with just yet. I have to keep telling myself that it’s for the restaurant, the guests, and the people that work here.

GFR: Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?

EM: Somebody who is truly passionate about our field. When you meet someone like that, when they talk about wine, you can see the fire in their eyes. The teachers. The people that strive to know more and to bring that intensity to their staff and guests.

GFR: And for Wine Agents/Importers?

EM: The answer would be much the same as above. There have been times when I’m listening to an importer or supplier, and I get so wrapped up. I long to know more!! So inspiring!!

GFR: Do you have nightmares about working with wines? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away… in fact I had one last night!!! And I haven’t been in the role for over six and half years!!!

EM: The nightmares have changed over the years. Since my time at TPP, I’ve definitely learned not to sweat it too hard. There were times in the beginning of my tenure here that I didn’t really understand the volume of the place, and maybe I didn’t order enough. Some days it was so scary, 86! 86! 86! That got to me for a long while.

GFR: Sommeliers famously have their Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

EM: A Sunday off? Sounds dreamy!! Well a perfect Sunday would be to sleep in with my boyfriend, wake up and drink coffee in bed. That would be followed by a Ninjachef, Martinez collab breakfast prepared Chez Martinez whilst enjoying some bubbly. The first nap of the day would take place on the couch, after which we would wake up and go for a nice long walk, stopping in at some spots in the hood, having snacks and drinks around the hood.

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of your city?

EM:Well I tend to stay in my neighborhood when it comes to dining and drinking. Pub Royale, an Indian pub style restaurant is one of my favorite places. The same company owns a bar nearby, Sportsmens Club. It’s an old timey bar, that’s been refurbished. They kept all of the taxidermy on the walls. Great cocktails, created daily by some super talented bartenders. Also, a great place for noodles and slushy drinks, High Five Ramen. My Asian friends will say that the noodles are not “Asian” enough, but it’s a good bowl of noodles, regardless!!

GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

EM: Well I’m a much better cook than in my youth, when I cooked for my siblings, and I’ve picked up some technique over the years. My favorite homey dish is a Mediterranean style brown rice chicken fricasee. So good with wine, and lots of briny bright Mediterranean flavors.

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?

EM:  HEE!! Not recently. Being around a lot of chefs over the years has lent a hand in that.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS' Volcanic Wines book launch.

Liz Martinez was in Toronto recently for John Szabo MS’ Volcanic Wines book launch.

GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier community in Chicago?

EM: There is an abundance of very intelligent sommeliers in Chicago. Sometimes there is a bit of a disconnect, because there are so many styles of Somms in the city. My favorite community of Somms right now are the women. There seems to be a good group of passionate and creative ladies that are really doing some interesting things.

GFR: Do you hang about with other Sommeliers? 

EM: Not Sommeliers, per say, but wine professionals, yes. People that sell wine or import it or suppliers sometimes have the most interesting things to talk about, or have a different take on things. For me, inspiration comes in many forms.

GFR: How do you feel about Chicago as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine or cocktail on?

EM: There are a ton of really creative pros in this town. My feelings are much the same as they are about food.. Not to mention, that people in Chicago love to drink when it’s cold outside. Mescal is kind of a big thing right now, I love to see what people can do with that. Sportsmens Club and Dove’s luncheonette, as well as Big Star, are places that you can find me drinking cocktails at. Wine is something that I prefer to drink at home or with friends.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not doing what you are doing today?

EM: Years ago, I toyed with the idea of being a dancer or a DJ. I dj’d with friends and was heavily involved in electronic music in the 90’s. Once that started to die down for me, I joined a Brazilian dance troupe in SF. That was something that made me really happy at the time.

GFR: What are your thoughts on music in restaurants? 

EM: It depends on the restaurant. TPP has a very loud, lively atmosphere. The music makes sense. The guests enjoy it. Other types of  restaurants need music, but it should be in the background.

GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?

EM: Well, I guess that there are two scenes in the movie “Sideways” that I found to be humorous. First, when the main character loses his mind and drinks the spit bucket.For some reason I always think of that when I’m at tastings.

Second, when he drinks the Cheval Blanc at the end after spouting off about his hatred for Merlot for the entire movie. What can I say? I enjoy comedy and irony.

GFR: I know that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

EM: People think that I have the most glamorous job. Haha. It’s true, I am able to experience and drink and eat things that other people will never be able to enjoy in their lifetime. There are a lot of hours involved, and at the end of the day, sometimes I just don’t feel like drinking wine! I try to keep reminding myself how lucky I am.

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine?

EM: Blind tasting is very interesting to me. During the time that I was studying for my Somm certification, I got to be very good at it!! It’s so interesting to me, kind of like you’re a detective, that’s solving a mystery. The deductive reasoning is just fascinating to me.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

EM: Interestingly enough, I do a lot of things better when I’m hungover. It’s as though I have to prove something to myself.

GFR: What’s your current favourite wine region?

EM: It’s almost like you’re trying to make me choose which child is my favorite!! As I sit at the bar with my staff right now, they are all saying Valtellina, an alpine wine region in Lombardia.  The Nebbiolo from there is sooooo interesting. There is also a white that I love from there, in fact I’m pairing the white with a course at The James Beard house next week. The wine is late ripening Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, blended with nebbiolo that’s vinified as a white wine!!

GFR: In your mind, as an Sommelier, what is “hot” in the world of wine right now? And why?

EM: For me, I’ve been drinking and talking about volcanic wines. They are everywhere! And from the most interesting places!! I just picked up a passetoutgrain style of wine from the Cotes de Auvergne in France. The vineyards are planted on extinct volcanoes, set right in the center of the country. Definitely some topic of discussion there! Most of what I’ve seen are Burgundy style grapes.

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour? I why do you feel that is?

EM: Well this question takes me back to the natural wine thing. So many people are still excited about natural wine! Yes, it is interesting to see the history of wine, to see the “roots” (haha) of winemaking, but where would wine be if people weren’t trying to find new method and technique  of vilification over the years?

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

EM: See Above. LOL. Sort of kidding. But seriously, Bordeaux these days! Too dang expensive. Especially considering the value that you can find these days…….and you wouldn’t have to wait forever to enjoy most of these “value” wines.

GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now, something nice and seasonal?

EM: Well my favorite wine pairing of all time is pork rinds and pink champagne. LOL. Seasonal? One of my favorite comfort foods, mashed potatoes and gravy with Oloroso sherry is just dreamy. The Maestro Sierra Oloroso is a really nicely structured sherry with great acid. The wine really brings out any herbs and spices in the gravy, leaving you with a luxurious and silky textured from both the gravy and the wine.

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… this time with… Hmmmm… your new Royal Family.

What would you suggest to pair for them wine or beverage-wise… and why?

  1. Ivanka Trump ?

  1.  Steve Bannon?

  1. The Donald?

EM:My answer would be the same for all three of them. As it is somewhat of a hot topic in the US these days, I would need to remind myself that I am a professional, first and foremost.

The wine pairing that I choose is always tailored to each individual. Something expensive, obvious, yet still delicious, without being too cerebral. Mostly because based on what I have witnessed so far, these are people that may not be interested in anything too compelling.

GFR: Smart answer there, Liz.

Do you often drink beers, ciders or spirits? What do you currently enjoy?

EM: I typically stay away from beer and cider. If I do drink beer, it’s usually something simple, juicy and crisp. Sometimes I get tired of assessing every thing that I drink.

Spirits? Definitely. Mescal, as I mentioned before, is my favorite day time spirit, as it is a stimulant versus being a depressant. Whiskey would be my other spirit of choice. Preferably in a cocktail. Manhattan or a Toronto.

GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as a Sommelier? 

EM: Paperwork.

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

EM: Waiters wine key. Although with the amount of volume that we do at TPP, I go through quite a few. I broke my favorite fancy wine key a few years ago, and realized that I just need something sturdy and reliable.

GFR: And your thoughts on the Coravin system… has it changed the playing field?

EM: Changed the playing field? Somewhat? We have 5-6 wines that we pour with it at TPP. It allows me the opportunity to pour luxury wines, and keep them in pristine condition. Our guests really do enjoy the opportunity to try wines that are somewhat obscure or expensive, without committing to the entire bottle.

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? And how do your customers feel about that?

EM: It was pretty painful for me at first. LOL. After years of playing up the theatrics and romance of opening a wine with finesse, along comes these bottles that you literally have to “crack” open. It’s fine, I’ve learned how to make that look fancy too. As for the guests? It has not been as big of a topic of discussion as it once was.

GFR: Due to us being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?

EM: Well, there is likely a cumulative amount of alcohol in my system at all time. I try not to drink more that 5-6 drinks in a sitting. Water is very important. One glass of water per drink is usually my routine.

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time?

EM: I’ve never been cut off. Not sure why that is. Maybe I have been and I just don’t remember. haha

GFR: Speaking of which, do you have a good hangover cure?

EM: Working out like crazy.

GFR: How many wines do you taste in a week?

EM:Goodness. Well, I probably try 30 or so wines for the list, and I try at least that a day to assess for our substantial by the glass program.

GFR: When tasting with agents do you choose to spit or swallow?

EM: I always spit when I’m at work. It’s a long day, and I believe that our guests deserve a hospitality professional that’s as “on point” as possible at all times.

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

EM:Something white, crisp and mineral laden. Muscadet, or Chablis.

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

EM: Wow. That’s a tough one. Likely it was the  1941 Chateau d’Yquem that I tried one night while I was working for Rick Bayless. It started to open my eyes, as to what happens to certain wines with some age. It started the wheels turning.

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy day at work?

EM: A really beautiful French Chardonnay. One that moves and changes in the glass, and reminds me of why I got in to this crazy business in the first place.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Elizabeth… If you were a grape varietal which would you be? and why?

EM: That’s easy. Nebbiolo. We share a lot of the same characteristics. Bold, broad shoulders. Tough, but with a feminine side.

GFR: Thank you for taking the time Elizabeth.


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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city. He just celebrated his 67th birthday!

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton is now GM at DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu.

Carving A Turkey Using Wüsthof’s Classic Ikon Range With Rodney Bowers (Hey Meatball!)

After some turkey carving, Chef Rodney Bowers readies himself for a yuletide smooch.

After some turkey carving, Chef Rodney Bowers readies himself for a yuletide smooch.

In association with Wüsthof Canada we present the sixth of an educational video series featuring a selection of Toronto Chefs showing us their knife skills using specific knives from the Wüsthof range in the home kitchen environment.

In episode five we have Chef Rodney Bowers of Hey Meatball! showing us how to carve a turkey using the Wüsthof Classic Ikon Carving Knife and the Wüsthof Classic Ikon Straight Meat Fork.

If you are having trouble viewing this video please click here.

Knife skills videos are something that we have been looking to produce for quite some time at Good Food Revolution, and so we are delighted to partner with Wüsthof for this ongoing series.

Watch this space for our next instalment at the end of January… a new year special where we look at sharpening and honing your Wüsthof knives with Chef Brad Long (Cafe Belong).

Wüsthof are a Good Food Fighter. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that turkey was actually one of the juiciest I have ever cooked!

Try This : Ibumie Penang White Curry Mee

Yes, that's right... I'm recommending some instant noodles... but not your usual noodles.

Yes, that’s right… I’m recommending some instant noodles… but these aren’t your usual instant noodles. These are white curry noodles.

 Ibumie Penang White Curry Mee (Peris Kari Putih) $5 for a pack of four from 7-11

I don’t think that I can remember ever having a craving for instant noodles previously, but just last week it happened.

Don’t judge me.

I was about to head off to bed for a little read, when suddenly I was overtaken by this overwhelming urge to put on my winter boots, coat, and hat in order to traipse around the corner to the rather sad 7 – 11 at Dundas and Dovercourt. It’s depressing enough during the day when one needs to use the post office contained within, let alone late at night/early morning when it’s the only thing open in the neighbourhood, and hence attracts all manner of ne’er do wells, monged clubbers, and ramen-craving writers.

Quite what provoked this temporary lapse of sanity I am still unsure to this day, but in retrospect I’m so glad that that the noodle gods had chosen this particular late-night dalliance for me that evening, for I was to discover what I now consider to be the holy grail of instant noodles… well, for me at least. I’m still a bit of newbie when it comes to any kind of connoisseurship concerning instant soup noodles.

At around $5 for four individual packets, it obviously wasn’t going to break the bank. To be quite honest I didn’t realise that there were four contained within and, looking for the most “deluxe” offerings on the shelves, just thought that it was a much larger serving than one would usually find.

Each packet consists of four components : the noodles (which require three minutes in 375ml of boiling water), one sachet of a small amount of shrimpy seasoning, one slightly larger sachet of a non-dairy creamer, and a fatter sachet of curry sambal, which is what I think makes the dish, as it is really quite delicious. Being a big wuss when it comes to spice, I only use about one third of the curry sambal and that seems to be about right for my sensitive palate.

The assembled bowl smells immensely appealing, exotic, and as authentically Malaysian as inexpensive instant noodles could be (to these olfactory organs anyway). In the mouth the flavours seem considerably more complex than one usually finds in instant noodles, the creamer making the texture very pleasing indeed. The sambal’s funk continues on to the very back of the palate, and this is a very good thing.

A tip for those who are mindful about what they put in their bodies : don’t read the ingredients list. Just lie back and think of Penang as the synthetic additives toy with your senses…

I was so impressed by these particular noodles that I’ll be on the look out for further interesting options in the future.

Any recommendations from our readership would be most welcome!

4.5 apples out of 5
(Four and half apples out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And these are surprisingly good.

Chef Chris McDonald’s Complete Sous Vide Cookbook

Chef Chris McDonald is quite proud of his long-researched book on sous vide cooking, and rightfully so!

Chef Chris McDonald is quite proud of his long-researched book on sous vide cooking, and rightfully so!

Until earlier this week, sous vide had always been a bit of a mystery to me.

Sure, I had seen the process name-checked on many a menu over the years, and had often heard my Chef pals discuss its pros and cons ; but to be quite honest with you, the whole concept of sous vide seemed a bit too much like my Mum’s horrific frozen boil-in-the-bag cod, a scarring gastronomic memory that haunts me with food-borne PTSD until this very day.

Enter Chef Chris McDonald, a fellow who is no stranger to the pages of Good Food Revolution, and a gentleman with a formidable knowledge of all things culinary.

Chris has been working on his Complete Sous Vide Cookbook for around two years now, and so I was intrigued to learn what he had discovered about the process through his intensive research and recipe testing.

We sat down beside our newly erected and trimmed Xmas tree to speak about his brand spanking new book and the mysteries of sous vide.

Expect a full review of the book next week, as well as a look at the Sansaire immersion circulator I have been playing about with in conjunction with Chris’ recipes… and the results are looking very promising indeed.

If you are having trouble viewing this video please click here.

The Complete Sous Vide Cookbook (Robert Rose) is currently available through Amazon and will be available in good bookstores over the coming days… just in time for Xmas.


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And his first experiment with the circulator using Chris’ book was rather spectacular. More to follow next week…

Try This : One Of The Best Value Italian Whites Out There

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2015 Anselmi “San Vincenzo” Veneto, Italy (Alcohol 12.7%) LCBO Vintages $16.95

Over the past five years I have found myself more and more drawn to the delightfully aromatic white wines of northeastern Italy. Whilst I have always had a fond place in my heart for the better wines from Soave, it was only relatively recently that I reappraised Anselmi’s San Vincenzo IGT.

Comprised of some 70% Garganega with the balance being made up of both Chardonnay and Sauvignon, this current 2015 vintage exhibits simply terrific value at $16.95. It’s not a wine that will frighten the horses either, as it’s an easily accessible wine that will appeal to broad spectrum of wine drinkers, from Pinot Grigio sippers to Sauvignon Blanc guzzlers. It’s a really decent mouthful of wine, and is not to be sniffed at.

Speaking of sniffing, this wine is fresh, vibrant, and decidedly floral, with bountiful aromas of  pineapple, banana, and passionfruit, as well as a fair bit of grassy herbaceousness. The palate is surprisingly rich for a wine that sees no oak barrels. Texturally the San Vincenzo is quite creamy with a barely perceptible 7g of sugar kept in check with some medium acidity. It’s an undeniably contemporary wine, and actually what I’d call a winemaker’s wine more than anything, but in this case that is no bad thing, as it is immensely enjoyable and goes down in no time.

It’s also incredibly versatile and will pair with all manner of dishes, for me most successfully with creamier pastas (think Carbonara), and medium-spiced Asian dishes (think green/red curries and the like).

4-apples

(Four stars out of a possible five)


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And while he’s always enjoyed this wine, the 2015 is really rather special.

Young Blood Sommelier : Renée Sferrazza

Portland Variety's Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto's Northern Belle.

Portland Variety’s Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto’s Northern Belle.

In the second of an fourteenth (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario. A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers. Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars.

This month sees the turn of a young lady named Renée Sferrazza who happens to look after the wine side of things at Toronto King West spot Portland Variety.


Good Food Revolution: So Renee, what is it that you are doing these days? (Your position, and what that role entails)

Renée Sferrazza: These days I’m at Portland Variety doing the Wine Direction and Education for the restaurant, as well as building a start-up wine agency, Heirloom Vine Imports Inc. My days are filled with thinking about how to teach wine, tastings, and reading, watching, learning about wine!

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?

RS: I have been working in restaurants and the hospitality industry for almost ten years now, sometimes it has felt like an eternity of working but I have had some great experiences. I was always more of a learn on the job kind of person and gained most of my experience and training working with people I respected and wanted to learn from. Although it was working on an Italian vineyard that pushed me, head over heels into loving the possibilities of the wine.

GFR: How would you describe your role at Portland Variety?

RS: Essentially my role at Portland Variety is anything to do with wine. Which consists of assisting with the direction of the wine list, running the ongoing wine education program for the staff, creating a wine spec and food pairing bible, and forwarding the growth of wine sales.

GFR: You have worked in a number different types of places… how does Portland Variety compare?

RS: The funny thing about working at Portland Variety is that I had worked at the location before, when the restaurant was called KiWe. It’s hard to compare working at Portland Variety to other places I have worked, because I had worked there before I knew who I would be working for and I always liked the owners.

I think Portland Variety does a great job at understanding what their employees are good at and working with those strengths and interests, more so than any other place I have worked. To me it seems that I work for a company that understands that I want to accomplish more with my life than what I am doing right now. 

GFR: How open do you find the clientele to trying new things when it comes to wines? Is there a specific style of wine that the demographic crave? And just what is that demographic?

RS: The clientele demographic at Portland Variety is the King Street young professional, ranging from young 20 somethings to a more mature crowd – a real cross section of society. We are the neighbourhood restaurant/office/bar, and our clientele mirrors that.

I have been finding that the plate of our guests is for fruit forward wines. Wines from California and Portugal are fan favourite and people seem open to trying anything Mediterranean.

GFR: I’m aware that you really enjoy the wine education side of things. How important do you feel that staff education is to a successful wine program? And how do you make it work at Portland Variety?

RS: To me this is the most important part of the wine program, knowledge is the key to great sales, hands down. The staff sells what they find familiar, what they enjoy, and they know our clientele personally; if we want to change the direction of the list or sell more we need to educate the staff.

My way of doing this making wine education as relatable and fun, they are learning about wine after all. Most importantly I never come in with an assumptions, people can ask any question they want, and there are no stupid questions. I run a general wine education class on Wednesdays, do floor shifts to assist they staff sell wine on half price Mondays, create detailed spec sheets on new products, and create food pairing charts.

GFR: Now, how do I word this? Have you drunk the “Natural Wine Kool Aid”? I’m just kidding, how do you feel about the scene?

RS: If drinking the natural wine Kool aid is trying and buying wine that is, let’s say questionable at times, I don’t think i have fallen for it just yet.

I could listen to someone’s thoughts on new wine endlessly, but I am stubborn and let’s say a bit particular- so I tend to only try what calls out to me.

To me wine is already so interesting, and there are a lot of nuances in more accessible wines.

GFR: I have heard that you are also moving into the importation side of things? Please tell me a little about that?

RS: That’s right! Two other crazy winos and I decided to create a wine agency start up, called Heirloom Vine Imports Inc. It has been a really interesting and fun process so far. As anyone who owns a wine agency will tell you this is a job with a lot of hard work but hard work isn’t scary.

I have always wanted to work in a more global job which is what makes being an importer so interesting. Working with the LCBO for the trends and interests of our clientele, selling something from a faraway supplier sounds like a dream job to me – I know I must sound crazy.

Portland Variety's Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto's Northern Belle.

Portland Variety’s Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto’s Northern Belle.

GFR: What makes for a good agent/supplier in your mind?

RS: It going to sound so simple a good agent is someone that listens, answers their emails quickly, and understands who their client is and what they can 100% deliver on. This is a long term relationship industry good agents are remembered and the best people always hang around.

GFR: And what makes for a bad agent?

RS: A bad agent is the opposite of all those good qualities, or a person with noticeable wine pretentiousness – that off putting “I know more than you snobbish-ness”- no one wants to buy in that environment.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Any current favourites?

RS: I think I may be too harsh sometimes on Canadian wines, as I tend to be more of a fan of European wines. Currently I am enjoying the wines out of Prince Edward County, mainly Rosehall Run and Pearl Morissette, anything interesting and off the path I will defiantly be interested in tasting it.

GFR: And how do the Portland Variety clientele find Canadian wines?

RS: We don’t have many Canadian wines on our menu at Portland Variety, the plate of our client is more towards warmer climate wines so we have be sticking to wines from the Mediterranean and California mostly. We focus on a more Canadian beer selection at Portland Variety.

GFR: What do we do well in Ontario, in your mind, and for your palate?

RS: I think that Ontario does a great job with Gamay, from almost any winery I truly believe that Ontario is Gamay’s new world home. I am hoping that overtime great productions of Ontario Gamay supersedes ice wine and becomes what we are known for.

GFR: And what do you feel we should give up on?

RS: I really think we should give up on low quality wine productions in Ontario. So many great winemakers here making captivating products, in a market filled with wine made from “whatever was on hand”.

GFR: Just as there is from everywhere in the world, there is quite a lot of dreadful wine coming from Ontario also. How do you feel about the issue of people simply promoting something because of it being local, and not because of its quality?

RS: I completed a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies so the importance of local is crucial to living in a sustainable society, however I do not think that our impression of local wine should be of low quality.

I think that quality is important and I think that viticulturists in Ontario show take a more European approach and only make what they do best.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age?

RS: I am Italian and I grew up in a very Italian household, wine was always around and it was very much a part of daily life. We had a cantina in our basement filled with wine, both bought and homemade, very stereotypical.

GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?

RS: I do remember the first time I had wine, because I remember that I didn’t like it. However that was because it was my Nonno’s homemade wine.

At my Nonno’s house there was always his homemade wine in litre sized pop bottles. He would mix it with sprite to make it more palatable, I tried without the sprite and it wasn’t as good. At the time I was 10 and I thought that wine just tasted like my Nonno’s homemade wine, until I was in university. That is when I really started to enjoy wine.

GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

RS: Firstly I think it is important for children to see appropriate drinking habits from their parents starting at a young age. A glass of wine or two with dinner is fine, showing children the appropriate way to interact with alcohol. I believe it is more about the associations the child makes but I wouldn’t give wine to a child under 10.

GFR: When did you first decide that you would like a career in wine?… and was it with a view to being a Sommelier yourself?

RS: About two years ago is when I really started my career in wine. I had started by attending more industry events, followed by working in Italy on a winery.

Becoming a Sommelier always seemed like a great certification to have because it went hand in hand with my career goals in this industry. It feels like being a Certified Sommelier now is more of an expert in wine, the skills of which seem very transferable to a variety of roles.

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

RS: I was working at the Good Son about two years ago and we did these bar education days, mainly run by Moses McIntee. I had worked places with education days before, but Moses and the GM at the time told us about varying events that were happening around the city.

As much as it is fun to take a class and learn in that environment, I think it’s a far more interesting experience to go and get a sense of a community. Going to all these wine events showed me that I really like the world of wine.

GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious arseholes, and after seeing that film Somm I worry about the emergence of a new Bro culture… I’d love to hear your thoughts?

RS: To be honest I really don’t mind the Bro culture, I am a bit of a Bro myself. Maybe that is why I don’t mind it.

I like meeting people with these crazy big personalities, the more into it the better. To me this is the entertainment of life.

GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

RS: I am hoping my future holds the opportunity to visit more wine regions around the world.

So far I have checked out a good hand handful of regions in the Italy, my favourite being Soave, they make one of my favourite white wines. In Italy I have been to wine regions in Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Marche and Sicily.

I have done the quintessential visit to Niagara’s vineyard, and hopefully visiting Prince Edward County in the near future.

It is one of my goals over the next couple of years to make it out to more regions in Europe and South America.

Portland Variety's Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto's Northern Belle.

Portland Variety’s Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto’s Northern Belle.

GFR: Have you ever made your own wine?

RS: Despite growing up in a family that made their own wine, I never made my own! Shocking right?!  

GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

RS: In a pipe dream I think it would be fun to make wine in Germany, maybe some Riesling. It just seems like they have a well written science and instructions on how to make wine, should be easy to follow; I’m hoping….. Ideally.

GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?

RS: I think I prefer to manage people, it’s hard to tell because sometimes I get fed up with managing people.

The reason why I think people is because my goal in any job I have had is to forward sales, very business-y I know, but I like to learn what people are good at and what they enjoy doing. Overall it has always been the people I work for, with or sell to that determine what bottles I will showcase.

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

RS: My career in the aspects of the wine world is taking off, I am really liking where I am right now. My life at the moment is filled with hard work, good wine and great people, so I am pretty sure that I am currently in a high moment.

A low moment would be a couple of years back when I got so fed up of working evening in restaurants that I decided to make a big change. My worst moment was one terribly bad night where everything went wrong, a table ran out on a bill and I nearly broke my ankle.

GFR: Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?

RS: I have mentioned him once already but Moses McIntee, a great friend and an amazing person, has always been someone I saw as a role model. Not for being a Sommelier but for his work ethic in the hospitality industry, he has a way of conducting himself with such conviction and knowledge. I do find a lot of young blood in this industry to be a bit cocky. I had learned from Moses that cocky-ness is great but if you have nothing to back it up with, no real hard work, what is there to be so cocky about.

Also I believe that Emily Pearce-Bibona is doing some amazing and truly awesome work. I think that her championing of women in wine is so refreshing, needed and appreciated. She is definably a force to be reckoned with, a great role model.

GFR: And for Wine Agents?

RS: Working to build Heirloom Vine Imports has opened up many pathways to learn from role models that have done the same things I want to accomplish.

Three people that come to mind are Franco Prevedello, Alex Patinios, and Eric Thomassin. They have accomplished the dreams I have and they have been very generous in sharing their time and knowledge with me, something so paramount in learning how to import wine.

GFR: Do you have nightmares about working with wines? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away… in fact I had one last night!!! And I haven’t been in the role for over six and half years!!!

RS: I don’t just yet, but I just got past having nightmares from my years working on the restaurant floor. I know the feel, those dreams are so stressful.

Portland Variety's Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto's Northern Belle.

Portland Variety’s Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto’s Northern Belle.

GFR: Sommeliers famously have their Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

RS: My ideal Sunday would start later in the morning, I am really missing summer because chatting about great wine in the park is one of my favourite things to do.

I am so fond of bringing a couple bottles and picnic lunch to the park for a day of tasting, snaking and chilling with friends. Maybe pack a bottle of Prosecco, some Frappato, a nice crispy Riesling… oh the possibilities are endless.

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our city?

RS: Let’s see some of my favourite places to drink are Archive, The Good Son, Bar Raval, Le Select, La Palate and Boehmer. I am more of an explorer of new places than a regular, the places I go to most often are where good conversation and drinks can be had.

GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

RS: I love to cook, and I think I am pretty good at it. I am best at Italian food, no one can bet my homemade pizza or gnocchi. I am do a pretty mean pesto.

I grew up learning to cook, in Italian culture if you can’t cook you can’t survive.

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?

RS: Luckily I haven’t had any disasters recently, although I remember back when I was first perfecting my pizza dough recipe I had eaten a lot of uber-subpar pizza. 

GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier community in Toronto?

RS: Lately I have been meeting a fair bit of young people in process of becoming Sommeliers, like me. The community itself is very tight knit, I think that there is a fairly substantial community of Sommeliers in Toronto but you have to be at the right place at the right time to meet them.

GFR: Do you hang about with other Sommeliers?

RS: It feels like all I do now is hang out with Sommeliers and people of the wine industry. Loving wine has a way of invading all parts of life, I talk about wine constantly, I think I have turned my friends into wine enthusiast.

GFR: How do you feel about Toronto as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine or cocktail on?

RS: Toronto is definitely a wine, cocktail and food culture city, every time a guest that asks me what is the food or drink of Toronto I never have an answer for them. I think it is amazing how much food and beverage culture is in this city. Every bar and restaurant is creating a different expression of the culture they know.

I am a big fan of the bar hop, start of at Rush Lane for a cocktail, head to Marben for dinner, Portland Variety for some after dinner wine, over to Bar Fancy for a cocktail before dancing at a party or the Drake. There are so many possibilities for a night out in this city, it just depends on what you feel like doing.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not doing what you are doing today?

RS: My original plan, back when I was in university was to be a diplomat. I have only every dreamed to work in a global job and I have always enjoyed working in government. My previous experience before starting this career involved working with the Pembina Institute, the City Institute of UTF in conjunction with city hall, and the Clean Air Alliance.

Due to the political climate of working in the Environmental field because of the Harper government I had to change my career path.

GFR: What are your thoughts on music in restaurants?

RS: I love it! As long as the music suits the vibe, if it is too noticeable I start to question how good could the restaurant be.

GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?

RS: Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure! I could watch every episode of this BBC release a million times over. It is just so light hearted, it mirrors what I think of wine and the wine world. Because with wine you could be an expert and get lost in the pretentiousness of it, or you could be an enthusiast and get lost in enjoying wine. Putting those two thoughts together, chatting about what wine is and really enjoying it, is what this show does best.

GFR: I know that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

RS: My non-industry friends don’t seem to mind me rattling on about wine, as long as I have an open bottle in front of them.

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine?

RS: Blind tasting is definitely a skill, a skill I wish I was better at. I think to enthusiasts it will always remain the party trick, but it is highly impressive to see a mind filled with knowledge pin-point what exactly is in the glass.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

RS: Ah then we are the same, I am must better at blind tasting with a hangover. All my senses are in need of being recalibrated at that point, somehow that becomes the prefect moment to blind taste. And if I am tasting the previous night’s wine I should get the blind tasting right, don’t you think.

GFR: What’s your current favourite wine region?

RS: Right now I am obsessed with Sicily, I have been buying everything in site from the island. I think it is quickly becoming my favourite, I just love Sicilian wines!

GFR: In your mind, as an Sommelier, what is “hot” in the world of wine right now? And why?

RS: I am pretty sure that volcanic wines are the big thing right now. Which I think is amazing! What a great “hot” item, it is so easy to sell. “Try this wine, it is grown on a volcano!”

Who doesn’t want to try something that was produced on a volcano? This is a great trend because it is a trend with some innately complex wines but from a very understandable place. Sommeliers want in and customers are down to try volcanic wines just for the novelty. I am a big fan of any trend that brings great wine and a concept that the general public can enjoy.

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour? I why do you feel that is?

RS: I have been seeing fewer and fewer varietal productions lately, and I have tasted some amazing blended wine recently.

I think that the public is more open to blends at the moment with the wines coming out of Portugal. I get the sense that unique varietals and blends are going to be more popular than same old varietal productions we have classically seen.

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

RS: I know people always say Pinto Grigio but I feel like Malbec is often overrated. I have so many people order it without looking at a menu, and I would be curious to see what else could grow in Mendoza.

My opinions on if something is overrated are very Toronto hipster in nature, if too many people like something I may think it is inherently overrated.

GFR: Really?

There are some absolutely killer Argentinian Malbecs out there… I’m really digging so many of the higher altitude ones these days… think tonnes of blueberries and a very particular violety floral character. 

What is your favourite wine pairing right now, something nice and seasonal?

RS: My current favorite pairing is a Touriga Nacional. It a great wine for the season as it pairs best grilled or braised meats and hardy vegetables. The high tannins and fruity notes of this wine is complemented are best with well-seasoned, hardy winter dishes.

I am also a big fan of an Inzolia with a nice mushroom risotto or leafy winter green salad. Moderately aromatic with those nutty, citrusy, herbal notes I think it is a great white wine for the season.

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… this time with… Toronto stereotypes.

What would you suggest to pair for them wine or beverage-wise… and why?

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1.    The Tattooed Parkdale Polyamorist out on a first date. Dressed to impress. Although I get the feeling that they don’t know too much about wine… ?

RS: My recommendation is a glass of Sancerre or a White Negroi.

Tattooed and from Parkdale they might not know much about wine but with a glass of Sancerre you could always throw out the fact that the wine is actually made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes and is simple from Sancerre. Same with the White Negroi

These are both a different take on something well known, both are great drinks to look impressive, knowledgeable and just hipster enough.

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2.  The Roncesvalles Mom on a rare night out with her friends. Usually like a wee Pinot Grigio. Quite conservative in her tastes?

RS: My recommendation is to try an Albarino.

On a night out she doesn’t want to stray too far from the familiar. An Albarino with its fresh acidity, floral and fruity- citrus notes is reminiscent of her usual choice and also very easy drinking.

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3. The Leaside Forty-something who thinks that everything on the East side is better? Just got back from a vacation in Chile, and now refuses to drink anything but Chilean wines.

RS: My recommendation is a Sauvignon Gris

A pink berried mutation of Sauvignon Blanc, originally from Bordeaux it has found its new home in Chile. This grape makes a velvety textured wine with fruit notes of mango, melon and citrus. This is a great wine for the more informed enthusiast obsessed with Chilean wines.

GFR: Do you often drink beers, ciders or spirits? What do you currently enjoy?

RS: I will often drink ciders when I am having a lighter evening with friends, and I am a sucker for a gin and tonic with cumber.

GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as a Sommelier?

RS: Probably that people ask me constantly if I am as good as “the guys from the Somm documentary”. I find that people are curious about the wine world but often have only this as a point of reference.

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

RS: Anything really, as long as it opens the bottle. A classic corkscrew with a hinge would be the most prefer but I have opened bottle with pens in the past.

GFR: And your thoughts on the Coravin system… has it changed the playing field?

RS: I think it is great for small agencies because than can keep more expensive bottle for tasting on hand longer. In my view that is currently the only upside as it is not popular enough and too expensive at the moment to be use full-swing in restaurants.

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? And how do your customers feel about that?

RS: As an environmentalist at heart I think the screwcap is a great way to elevate the stress on cork production. That being said it depends on what wine is in the bottle. In my opinion young wine would benefit more from the use of a screwcap, but for a wine that is meant to be aged I think I cork is best.

GFR: Due to us being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?

RS: My limit is two bottles, or four ciders, or four gin and tonics. I usually drink a lot of water in-between, which help with hangovers. Lately I have been working on keeping my tolerance up, as I tend not to drink as much when I am working.

Portland Variety's Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto's Northern Belle.

Portland Variety’s Renée Sferrazza enjoys a few beverages at Toronto’s Northern Belle.

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time?

RS: I have never in my life been cut off, or thrown out. I am hoping I can keep it that way as I am a good girl at heart, or at least I would like to think that.

GFR: Speaking of which, do you have a good hangover cure?

RS: My hangover cure is simple. A glass of tomato juice before bed flowed by a B Complex vitamin, lots of water and at least 2 hours in bed watching TV before talking to any human beings the following morning.

GFR: How many wines do you taste in a week?

RS: Currently I average at tasting about 8-10 wines a week, unless I am selecting new wines for a menu then the number jumps starkly to 30 wines a week. I am on the slow and steady path of improving my blind tasting abilities at the moment.

GFR: When tasting with agents do you choose to spit or swallow?

RS: I rarely ever spit, I probably should spit but I forget the second the wine is in my mouth.

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

RS: At my house we have currently gone Beaujolais crazy! Usually we have a good selection of French sparkling, Vinho Verde is always around, and some Chianti on hand for all the pizza I make.

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

RS: A Soave Classico in Soave. I will never forget it, and every time I drink Soave I remember this moment. Sitting outside a café in Soave, looking down the street at Peter Pan winery on a warm sunny Italian day. I remember wanted to go to Soave that day and the wine is simple unforgettable. 

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy day at work?

RS: At the end of a long crazy day I will most likely finish a bottle of Prosecco. I usually like to start my evenings with sparkling after work, sparkling wine always puts me in a good mood. Plus it is so easy drinking.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Renee… If you were a grape varietal which would you be? and why?

RS: If I had to choose I would best represented by the Falanghina grape, the Italian varietal famous for its role in Roman wine and inspiration of Falerno Del Massico DOC. It thrives in volcanic soil, personally my soil type, and makes a light white wine with note of citrus blossom, apple, and pear with spicy mineral notes.

Falanghina is a complex wine made from an ancient grape, if I were to be any varietal I would want to be this interesting beauty.


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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city. He just celebrated his 67th birthday!

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton is now GM at DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu.

Raising A Healthy Appetite : Real Food For Real Kids

In this month’s Raising A Healthy Appetite segment we sit down with Lulu Cohen-Farnell to talk about her company, Real Food For Real Kids.


GFR: Hello Lulu, thanks for joining us. For those of those who don’t already know, what is it you do?

LCF: I am a shit disturber. But in a good way! I do my best to bring change where there’s an obstacle to better health for Canadians, especially children. Today’s food landscape is working against us and needs to be reFreshed with new ideas and policies (that are ironically the old values that have been trampled by the industrial food complex).

My ability to effect change and support other food fighters comes from being the disruptive creator at the heart of Real Food for Real Kids. RFRK cooks and delivers delicious, nutritious real food to over 15,000 kids daily (and growing!) in childcare centres, elementary schools and camps.

RFRK grew into a socially responsible food enterprise that inspires health and supports sustainable farming and eating. RFRK has gone a long way since its creation. We have moved our Real Food Kitchen 4 times and have grown from 2 passionate people to over 100 happy and awesome employees, as well as many partners who share our values for a healthy lifestyle.

GFR: And you are also a proud Mother, non?

LCF: Mais oui!  In fact, my son Max was my inspiration to start RFRK back in 2004, to provide him and his childcare buddies a delicious, colourful alternative to the factory-farmed, additive-filled, highly processed fare that dominates children’s catering. He’s now 14 years old (I can’t believe it!) and quite a lot of fun. My daughter Siena, 9 years old, is super creative and also inspires me daily to help make the world a better place.

GFR: Now… how did you go about raising a healthy appetite with your children? Let’s start with their very first introductions to food…

LCF: Taste development actually starts at conception as parents pass on their food preference via their shared DNA. When the mother is pregnant, taste develops through the food the mother exposes her child to. This continues with breastfeeding according to what the mother is ingesting. Taste development continues as the child starts eating solid food, so depending on the food choices the parents make, the child’s appreciation for variety of  food and flavours, texture etc will continue to evolve and develop. The good news is that change can be made at any given time. Habits can be difficult to change but anything is possible.

The earlier the introduction of various flavours and texture, the more likely the child will become a curious, adventurous eater. Food training is like any other training; it is a daily experience that forms taste buds throughout the formative years. It’s never too late to adopt new flavours and experiences. That comes with trial and error. The parents are there to guide the children’s choices; the children decide on how much they need to eat. Parents need to guide kids through the experiential journey of food. Max and Siena were breastfed for 18 months and then introduced to various purées of both fruits and vegetables, including fresh herbs, spices, all kinds of different oils and vinegars, nuts and seeds, etc.

When they started to show an interest in solid foods around the age of 4-6 months, they were influenced by what I ate. They both have a wide palate and are adventurous eaters within their own boundaries. Max is an omnivore who eats mostly legumes and vegetables but also healthy meats a couple of times a week. Siena was always a vegan. Things may change as they continue to explore and experiment with real foods.

GFR: And what are your thoughts on allergies, intolerances, and the like? How do you feel parents should approach introducing the more common allergens?

LCF:  Allergies and intolerances have been on the rise. I believe that they are issues related to our gut health and microbiome; issues such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, Colitis and other colon inflammations are often due to the over prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs and/or the overuse of antibiotics in drugs or in the meat people consume.

Some allergies like peanut or nut allergies can be conquered using protocols where the allergen is introduced in micro doses on a daily basis. That’s one of the reasons why introducing a variety of food at a young age is essential. Other factors can exacerbate allergy intolerances. Sometimes it can be related to how the baby is born. For example, if the baby is born through c-section and not through the birth canal, they don’t get exposed to vaginal bacteria which helps build immunity and a healthy microbiome. Immunity and gut health can be rebuilt at any age following a serious and targeted probiotic protocol or using more recent techniques like fecal implants from healthy individuals. Harmful chemicals contained in vaccines have also been a part of the puzzle relating to the rise in allergies. A child can be born without an allergy and then develop it later on in life. Most of the time we can trace it back to colon health.

At RFRK, we cater to children with varied degrees of allergy sensitivities and severities, as well as  intolerances. We do our best to inform parents about allergy protocols and gut health so that they can help their kids to manage and/or overcome an allergy or intolerance.

We also see a rise in lifestyle preferences where families decide to avoid certain foods and ingredients. For example, some families will avoid gluten and dairy as they may not tolerate them or know that our bodies and health are better off without them. When one decides to experiment with their diet and eliminate certain types of food for a given period of time, they may feel better. It’s important to ensure that the food we eat is nutrient dense and fuels our bodies and mind for optimum health. For a very active person, it’s essential to fuel their body according to the level of their energy output.

These are both worth a read:

Food bans – Part 1: Why many medical experts think food bans in schools go too far

Food bans – Part 2: Why are food allergies linked to income?

The Farnell family down at Real Food For Real Kids.

The Farnell family down at Real Food For Real Kids.

GFR:  With Real Food For Real Kids you probably have to be mindful of allergies all the time. Do you have any thoughts as to why we are now seeing such a prevalence of allergies and intolerances in young children?

LCF: Of course, RFRK has and follows very strict allergies  processes and protocols. As part of this process, we track the types of allergies reported to us as well as the frequency of different allergies. And yes, we have seen a tremendous increase in parents reporting some kind of allergy or food intolerance over the past few years especially.

We have noted that allergic reactions to certain foods/ ingredients have increased over the years but so too have the number and frequency of harmful chemicals getting added to our food, hygiene/cosmetics and cleaning products. And there is also the increased use of GMOs and the ever growing number of vaccines introduced at younger and younger ages. Can we draw a parallel here? People also have come to live in a more sterile environment and kids aren’t exposed to the natural environment as much – which basically means that our immune systems are not experiencing the same challenges and developing the same immuno responses that our ancestors would have. With the prevalence of anti-bacterial soaps and detergents, access to good and essential bacteria has been drastically reduced and people are becoming more prone and susceptible to illnesses. And don’t even get me started on the effects of antibiotics on our digestive systems…

GFR: As your children grew older and you moved them to solid foods, how did you develop their palates? And how do you feel that your strategy back then played out with their preferences today?

LCF: I introduced new and varied foods to my children on a daily basis and still do!  I have a holistic approach to feeding my kids. Just like me, my kids have grown up eating real food made from scratch from the beginning. They enjoy eating real food and developed a taste for it throughout the years. They are adventurous eaters. Yes they like candy like most kids do, but they have learned and experienced the foundations of healthy eating and delicious eating. One of their favourite things is toasted injera (ethiopian bread made with teff flour) and seaweed! Their tastes continue to evolve as they experiment with food. They often ask if they can help in the kitchen and love to discover new flavours and textures. Of course they don’t like everything, but they are open to trying new foods, that is what matters most. An open mind!

GFR: So do you feel that there is there some kind of playbook to follow to ensure that your child doesn’t become a picky eater and has a diverse palate?

LCF: I believe teaching kids how to eat and appreciate real food is just as important and time consuming as it is to teach them to read, play chess, ride a bike or become really good at a sport. It takes discipline, repetition, practice and creativity. When we teach our kids to read, there are steps we take to do so. We first teach them the alphabet, then words, then sentences. We sit down with them and we read with them. We as parents should feel the same way about teaching our kids how and what to eat. We should take the time to shop for real food, prepare and cook food, teach them table manners, and of course sit down, eat together and share stories. These are sacred moments that allow us to all stay connected in a very disconnected and distracted world.

Paying attention to how we feed ourselves and our kids is an investment in our health and our kids’ well being. It’s being able to see the bigger picture. It’s about not getting frustrated or give up when our kids refuse to eat something. Just like some kids take longer learning to read than others, some take longer to develop their taste buds than others, but we should never give up and label our kids with words like ‘picky eater’ or ‘you never or won’t like’. Instead we should encourage them to embrace new tastes, be curious and yes, sometimes it’s ok if they say no to a food we present. Frequent exposure is what matters.

Banning food our kids sometimes refuse to eat doesn’t help grow their palate or expand their taste buds. In France, we train our kids from a very young age to spend time eating at the table. In every school, it is mandatory for students to learn table manners. French people are not inherently better behaved. Eating a diversity of food with good table manners is daily practice. Sitting at the table (without phones and iPads!) is a way for families to connect with each other. Spending an hour or more eating lunch or dinner is common. Families exchange opinions, speak about their day – and about what they’re going to eat next!!

Eating connects us. It always has. Cooking is an art that used to be passed down, like stories passed on from generation to generation. It’s a lost art that we need to bring back to our society starting in schools with mandatory food literacy and cooking classes..

Knowing real food and how to cook it is an essential life skill that every human being should own. If our kids refuse to taste something, no need to insist too strongly but let’s not replace it with something that is easy (like cereal or bread) that you know kids will like. Always offer familiar and new food together. If  kids are hungry, they will eat.  Don’t ban a food because it’s not a hit the first time.

GFR: Right now I’m having trouble getting our two and half year old to eat fish… I’m hoping that is just a phase?

LCF: Kids’ palate evolves constantly. If they don’t like something today, they might like it next week. Don’t ban food because it isn’t liked once. Always introduce new foods in different ways, including fish. Have you tried fish in a smoothie?… Just kidding! Try fish cakes or grilled fish in a sandwich with aioli!

Parent’s helpful books:

The Tale Of Kale by Lisa Borden & Joey Storm

(The Tale of Kale is a based on a real story and a real kid, but is meant to be a colourful and happy way to encourage good eating habits, and develop excitement for trying new things. This children’s picture book is perfect for a good cuddle-up-and-read session, and also a great classroom read or addition to your library.)

Kids Needs Real Food (Not Food Products) by Jeanie Marshall

French Kids Eat Everything (And Yours Can Too) by Karen Le Billon

Getting To Yum by Karen Le Billon

And of course: “You Have to F***king Eat by Adam Mansbach

AudioYou Have to F***king Eat

And this website full of better products, suggestions, tips,etc. to help parents be a better informed parent/ consumer faster (aka all the research is done for you) check it out:

The Borden Big List – You’ll find everything you should read, wear, drink from…
The Real Food For Real Kids team.

The Real Food For Real Kids team.

GFR: There has been quite a lot of negative press recently about some parents choosing to raise their children vegetarian/vegan from “Day 1”… I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that subject?

LCF: The media highly exaggerates and dramatizes things around eating a plant based diet and choosing to be vegetarian/vegan… Just like any other diet, a vegan diet can be healthy as long as it’s well balanced. If parents read The China Study by T.Collin Campbell, they may be surprised to learn that they might’ve wanted to feed their kids a vegan diet from day one. Eating plant based foods is easier on the system, especially the digestive system of a young child. One can thrive on a vegan diet healthily without any animal intake as long as they know where to find the nutrients. The plant world is rich and nutrient dense. For examples, legumes whole grains are a great source of protein, and so are mushrooms!.

Look at herbivore horses; they eat hay, grass, vegetables and fruits and are incredibly strong and powerful.. What matters most is feeding our kids a balanced diet rich in real foods and devoid of highly processed foods, whether it’s vegan, omnivore or vegetarian. Following Michael Pollan’s 64 Rules is a good idea. If you’re vegan and tofu is your only go to protein, it’s obviously not a good idea. Again, as with all diets, including a variety of foods is the way to go. Sticking to real food made from scratch is what matters most, no matter what your dietary preference is.

GFR: How did you apply what you had learned through raising your children to what you do at Real Food For Real Kids?

LCF: RFRK was created as an extension of my life, my food values, and my take on real food. At RFRK we cook and promote nutritious delicious real food on a daily basis. RFRK follows a simple rule: cook real food from scratch and avoid food additives, colourants, artificial flavors, preservatives, and GMOs. Use healthy meats and fish grown the way nature intended and use the best quality of uncompromised ingredients

Check out:

RFRK promise

64 food rules by Micheal Pollan

GFR: And what have you learned about the children of Toronto’s diets since beginning Real Food For Real Kids? Is junk/processed food as prevalent as I am led to believe?

LCF: A lot of kids are still fed a ton of processed food. It’s difficult to avoid unless you are motivated to do so. Food marketers and big food corporations tell parents what their kids should be eating by marketing food products without kids’ health in mind but rather the health of their company’s bottom line. Parents are left with little time to think about how or what to feed their kids and rely heavily on their doctors or big food corporations to tell them what their kids should eat. Follow your guts, educate yourself, be an informed consumer and stick to real food.

Check out the following links:

www.ewg.org/consumerguides

http://www.choose-healthy-eating-for-life.com/

GFR: What do you see as being the root cause of malnutrition in children in our society? (And by malnutrition I mean that in its true sense : bad nutrition). I’m guessing that poverty plays a big role in that, but I’m guessing that there are other factors at play?

LCF: Kids aren’t taught how and what to eat. That’s the central problem.  Childcare, school administrators and parents are taking short cuts in the name of convenience, putting our kids’ health in jeopardy. Some don’t play their true role as the gatekeeper and acquire the knowledge needed to feed our kids the fuel they need to grow into healthy and thriving adults. The lack of food literacy in a daycare or classroom, the very little time children are given to eat lunch (20 minutes in schools, often in less than ideal settings), cafeterias and lunchrooms that are lacking in healthy food, do not help develop a healthy society. Our health depends on good food with truly nutritious choices. Eating real food is NOT more expensive than eating processed foods. It starts with choosing quality over quantity.

GFR: As a child grows, how much influence do you feel that peer pressure has upon their likes and dislikes?

LCF: Peer pressure always plays a role. That’s why food literacy is greatly important. Having real food everywhere kids go and making that the norm as opposed to processed food is the way to overcome peer pressure. Childcare staff, school administrators, teachers and parents are role models. If every adult in every school and household set a good example of how to eat well, if cafeterias are filled with real food then real food becomes the norm, transforming peer pressure into a positive thing.

GFR: This is great, Lulu… do you have anything else that you would like to add?

LCF: I think the best food advice is timeless. For example, here’s something from a WW1 era poster that still rings true today.

        FOOD

1- Buy it with thought

2-Cook it with care

3-Use less wheat & meat

4- Buy local foods

5- Serve just enough

6- Use what is left

Don’t waste it!

(source: Food Don’t Waste It – WWI US Food Administration Ad Vintage-Style Poster)

Or even simpler, by Michael Pollan: “Eat (real) food, not too much, mostly plants.”


Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And although it took a while, that was well worth the wait!