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Celebrating Great Canadian Culinary Literature

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By Fresh Bites

 Judy Creighton recieving the Founder's Award for lifetime achievement.

Last Friday was a big day for fans of Canadian foodie literature with the annual Canadian Culinary Book Awards being held at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.  The annual awards, sponsored by Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph celebrate the best in Canadian literature and its contributions to building Canada’s food identity.  We attended, and have some recipes from the top award winning books of 2009 in the English categories.

The event, which awards prizes to both English and French titles were presented by Micheline Mongrain-Dontigny, an icon in Quebec’s food scene and the legendary Jurgen Gothe - former host of CBC’s “Disc Drive” for 23 years.  Both were excellent presenters and a perfect pair to announce the winners of this year’s prestigious awards.

The first ceremony was the CANADIAN CULINARY HALL OF FAME AWARD which went to Elizabeth Driver, for her book Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949.  This book is a history and bibliography of Canadian cookbooks from La cuisinière bourgeoise, published in Quebec City in 1825, to the mid-twentieth century.  The book took over ten years to prepare and involved extensive research by Ms. Driver of virtually every cookbook ever produced in present-day Canada.  Of the great recipes found within its pages, one for Curry Soup and Curry Powder came from the third cookbook to be published in Canada: Mrs Elizabeth Nourse’s Modern Practical Cookery (Montreal, Kingston, and Hamilton, 1845; first edition, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1809).

In the SPECIAL INTEREST CATEGORY, the Silver Award for the English book went to Bottomfeeder by Tarras Grescoe and Repertoire des Fromages du Quebec by Richard Belzer and Roch Nadeau in the French category.  The Gold Award went to Les Vins du Nouveau Monde Volume 2 by Jacques Orhon within the French book category while Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid took the top English prize.  This cookbook explores the food and peoples of rural China, specifically the far outlying regions where the population is not ethnically Chinese. It is one part travel guide and another part cookbook, and explores the Tibetan, Mongol, Tuvan and Kirghiz peoples, among others.  One of the great recipes within this book includes Kazakh Hand-Pulled Noodles in Chicken Broth with Soy-Vinegar Sauce which we tried and must say, was phenomenal.

Next was the CANADIAN FOOD CULTURE AWARD with the French title being awarded to Anne Desjardins for her book, Quebec: Capitale Gastronomique, a tour of the new cuisine of Quebec’s capital region.  In the English category, Apples to Oysters by Margaret Webb took the Silver.  The book is the story of her journey through Canada seeking Canadian quality food, a sort of Canadian Slow Food movement travel log.  One of the great recipes (or should we say special insider techniques) she shares in her journey is for The Perfect Diamond-Grilled Strip Loin Steak.  One of her colleagues, Anita Stewart, took home the Gold prize for her book, Anita’s Stewart’s Canada.  This book is Canada, the cookbook, if you will.  Anita’s book is a collection of recipes from the friends of this famous Canadian “culinary activist” and Cuisine Canada founder and one of the recipes we would recommend trying is certainly her friend Karen’s Späetzle.

The final category was COOKBOOK OF THE YEAR.  This was issued to both French and English writers in both Silver and Gold Categories each.  In the Silver Category, the best French Cookbook went to Gibier à poil et à plume: découper, apprêter et cuisiner by Jean-Paul Grappe while Elizabeth Baird won Silver for The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book.  Elizabeth is well-known in Canadian food and this book is an example of the great recipes and techniques she and the team at Canadian Living have delivered year after year to countless Canadian homes. This book includes seven chapters, each themed around a specific type of baking and includes such recipes as Cheddar and Onion Galette, made using her easy and flawless Double and Single-Crust Perfect Pastry recipe, also from the book.

The always animated Ricardo accepts his Gold award for French Cookbook of the Year.

The Gold for Cookbook of the Year went to Ricardo: Meals for Every Occasion by Ricardo Larrivee in the French category and Small Plates for Sharing, a Company’s Coming publication written by Laurie Stempfle within the English category.  Ricardo’s book is also available in English, and the truth is that both of these books shared a very common and popular theme in modern Canadian cooking – simple is everything.  Ricardo’s book includes several recipes for emergency entertaining and last-minute dinner parties.  Meanwhile Laurie Stempfle’s book for Company’s Company also provides some flavorful ideas for easy entertaining while incorporating the exotic, such as Dukkah Beef Skewers with Wine Reduction, perfect for the upcoming holidays.

The final awards at the ceremony included the FOUNDER’S AWARD for lifetime achievement which was presented to Judy Creighton, a food writer with the Canadian Press whose career has brought her across the country to cover everything from apples to the latest in avant-garde cuisine.  The EDNA AWARD for Lifetime Achievement within a Region went to Chef Robert Arniel, of St. John's, Newfoundland whose love for celebrating the diverse cuisine of his province has made him a hero to many on “the rock”.

While the award ceremony may be over, you can still discover the tastes and flavours of great Canadian cuisine this week and weekend at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.  Cuisine Canada and the University of Guelph have a booth showcasing the short-listed books and will be offering demonstrations with many of the nominees and winners.

Bon Appetit, “eh!”


Comment for:Celebrating Great Canadian Culinary Literature
It is too bad that there was no link for the cookbook that won the CANADIAN FOOD CULTURE AWARD-French title, Anne Dejardins' Quebec:Capitale Gastronomique. I took this book out from the library this summer and really enjoyed it. It is packed full of information about wonderfully selected Quebec chefs and food producers, plus the fine foods produced in that province. My mouth watered when looking at the pictures.
A link for the book: http://www.renaud-bray.com/Livres_Produit.aspx?id=944510&def=Québec+a+gastronomical+capital%2CDESJARDINS%2C+ANNE%2C9782923194806
Post Reply By Heather in BURLINGTON on 11/10/2009 11:20:08 PM

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