Springing from rural roots, Anita Stewart has been over the side of icebreakers into work boats in the North Pacific to visit every manned light-station on that coast to meet their keepers. She’s traveled by dogsled and snowmobile to Cree hunt camps in Northern Quebec. She’s blasted out to Hibernia—the most easterly bastion of Canadian cuisine on the continent. She’s scuba dived for sea cucumbers and urchin in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and bucktail fly-fished for salmon in Discovery Passage. She defined the term “Canadian culinary tourism” while it was still an oxymoron and she continue to push to make it an important scholarly discipline.
In those early nationalistic journeys, Anita cultivated a network of friends; in 1994, this network became Cuisine Canada, the first—and only—pan-Canadian culinary alliance of food professionals. She was Chair of the Board for a number of years. Her writing spans country inns and farm markets, hotels and, naturally, our phenomenal agricultural heritage. Her speaking engagements, lectures, and broadcasts on CBC Radio One tell similar stories.
Anita has consulted for the University of Guelph and developed the OAC Food Inventor,y which honours the researchers who have put so many new cultivars onto Canada’s tables over the years. She also coordinated the food for three of that university’s high-level think tanks on Canadian political and agricultural issues.
Anita was contracted by Agriculture and AgriFood Canada to co-host two media breakfasts with Canada’s Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Gerry Ritz: the first at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, the second at the 2011 Calgary Stampede.
Working with both Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, along with the Department of Canadian Heritage, Anita has brought real Canadian cuisine to both the national and international stage at events such as the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto and the World’s Fair in Hannover, Germany in 2000. She was on the senior team of consultants that wrote a Culinary Tourism Strategy for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. She was the “Sage on the Stage” at the 2005 Culinary Tourism Symposium in Toronto, the first event of its kind ever planned and executed by Canadians. She continues to work in that field as part of the team to review that strategy. Anita collaborated with the Canadian Tourism Commission’s US Media in 2006 to create the menu for CELSIUS! A Canadian Lounge, in Bryant Park, deep in the heart of New York City’s Financial District.
In April 2007, Anita was the keynote speaker sponsored by Ontario Tourism at the CTC’s Media Marketplace, the annual event in the United States in promotion of Canadian tourism. Working with the Canadian Tourism Commission, she live-streamed directly into the homes and offices of U.S. media from a talent-filled kitchen at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.
On July 7, 2003, Anita started a nationwide backyard/lakeside/main street Canadian beef barbecue. Billed as Canada Day 2! The World’s Longest Barbecue, the event was conceived in support of Canadian agriculture—specifically, the beleaguered beef industry. On August 2 of that year, thousands of Canadians participated in the event—some from as far afield as Baffin Island, Japan, Australia and the U.K. In every region, real Canadians barbecued real Canadian cuisine. From that day forward, Anita has issued similar challenges to Canadians far and wide to toss all sorts of Canadian ingredients onto their grills. Thousands have participated so far and the annual midsummer event has now evolved into Food Day Canada.