Friday, Jan 8 - In just two weeks, award-winning Chef Jamie Kennedy will be visiting Thunder Bay to join farmers, chefs, government and others involved in the food tourism industry to support a one-day conference dedicated to discussing the increasing opportunities for business growth and profit-making in the sector.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, January 19th, attendees from different communities and sectors will be introduced to one another through trade exhibits, educational presentations about culinary tourism and marketing local food products, and an open discussion about developing a culinary identity for the region.
Food tourism has demonstrated itself in other markets as a way of bringing new money into regional economies and also as a way of raising the local profile of local food. Tourism Northern Ontario Initiatives Coordinator and conference partner Pat Forrest says that food tourism can boost business in every link of the food chain. “If you’re growing it, storing it, moving it, processing it, cooking it, selling it or just enjoying food produced in the region, this day is for you,” she says.
Locally-owned distributor Loudon Bros. Wholesale was quick to offer their support as a Gold sponsor for the event last fall. “We have an opportunity here to help each other, our communities, our businesses and ourselves,” says Jason Perrier, representing Loudon Bros. for the conference. Perrier says that there are partnership opportunities between links in the supply chain locally and between communities which could strengthen all the businesses involved. “We’re excited to support this event and to have the opportunity to meet potential new partners to both sides of us in the supply chain,” he says.
To date, organizers have seen registrations from as far west as Kenora and as far east as Guelph, where the Northwest is fast developing a reputation for innovation and collaboration in the local-food sector. Led by Kennedy and facilitators from the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, participants will spend some time considering thorny questions about developing efficiencies and relationships that will make it easier to move products from farm and forest to diners and shoppers around the region, as well as looking at the funding and programs in place to support the development of new food tourism relationships and products.
Anyone with an interest in promoting the awareness, production, sales or value of foods produced in the region is welcome to attend. Tickets for the one-day event are available now at www.nwofoodforum.ca.
The Northwestern Ontario Forum for Food, Farms & Tourism is supported by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Northern Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.