The Slow Food Movement may be a relatively new thing in Canada but it has been a way of life for much of the world before it had a name.
The Slow Food Movement was started in 1986 by Carlo Petrini and is now on an international scale with over 100,000 members in 150 countries. It is promoted as an alternative to fast food and strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encouraged farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.
Local chef Oliver Kienast and his wife Brooke Fader are Slow Food enthusiasts and work hard at bringing pleasure back to the table.
Kienast, is a chef at the Sooke Harbour House and Fader is the cellar master. Together they enthusiastically promote Slow Food and find a lot of support in Sooke and on Vancouver Island. This October they are traveling to Turin, Italy to take part in Terra Madre. Terra Madre is held every two years and is a mega-conference for food, chefs, farmers, fishers, eaters and advocates of all those things.
Fader calls it a “food festival” and they are going to represent the convivial of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
“We’re really excited to steal away for this trip,” said Fader.
2014 will mark the tenth Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, with this year’s events bringing together more than 1,000 exhibitors from 130 countries, including over 300 Slow Food Presidia, chefs, farmers, fishers, eaters, authors, advocates, academics, artisans, international representatives from wine and gastronomy, and Slow Food’s network of small-scale producers and food communities on six continents. The packed program of conferences, taste workshops, classes and more combine to reveal the impacts our eating and consumption habits have on the welfare of the planet’s ecosystems, people and animals. Terra Madre refers to the conference or world meeting of food communities to address topics such as: climate change, population growth, animal welfare, food waste, land grabbing, and much more.
Fader had for years nominated other people to attend Terra Madre and this will be the first time she was nominated. Terra Madre is celebrating the Year of the Small Family Farm in conjunction with the United Nations. (The Sooke Fall Fair celebrated the same thing at this year’s fair).
Going along with Fader and Kienast is Dr. Jenny Horn head of the agriculture school at Vancouver Island University, who is also a a farmer; and Dr. John Volupe, a scientist with the School of Environmental Studies at UVic.
Each of the countries attending is expected to bring the traditional, endangered and indigenous foods they most identify with.
For tasting Fader is bringing along Vancouver Island salt, Moonstruck Cheese and Venturi-Schultze dessert wines, all products from the Island. They aren’t endangered at all but they are foods they identify with.
One of the events they are looking forward to is the 100 tasting workshops. Fader and Kienast have signed up for six and these include such things as tea in Japan, eating bugs and insects and Loire Valley winemakers.
Slow Fish Canada is also participating and will participate in meetings and workshops.
Mostly they will be there to network and renew their passion and enthusiasm for the Slow Food Movement and what it means.
“We are always battling the perception that slow food is expensive – it just means buy local first,” said Fader. “We’re really going to be inspired, it’s been a huge dream and it feels great to be chosen as a delegate. Oliver’s been nominated as a chef.”
She said it is important for chefs to support farmers and in Europe they have been doing that for ever. She also mentioned the concept of “traceability” where a person can trace where the products they buy come from. She used David Evans at Stick in the Mud as an example of someone who knows and supports the farmer who grows the coffee beans Evans uses.
“It’s a powerful concept,” she said, “and worth the price.”