June 22, 2013

The Ultimate Food Network Canada Superfan

I am reading Michael Pollan's new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation right now and in it he describes the simple and powerful skill of using fire, water, earth and air to transform food. Not only does cooking food connect us to other people, it also marks our impact on how food is processed, sold and marketed. By taking back the art of cooking, he says we can help make the American--and international--food system healthier, sustainable and more nourishing. He writes:

"Cooking implicates us in a whole web of social and ecological relationships: with plants and animals  with the soil, with farmers, with the microbes both inside and outside our bodies, and, of course, with the people our cooking nourishes and delights. Above all else, what I found in the kitchen is that cooking connects..." (pg. 18)

Apple Cobbler Donut

Michael Pollan always makes me think; however, his recent book really got me thinking about how food connects us all and the impact of learning to appreciate food. And who better than to connect us to food and cooking than the Food Network.

Since they just reached 100,000 Twitter followers, Food Network Canada is celebrating by looking for a new Food Network Canada Scout to blog, tweet and share the love. To enter, send them a Facebook message, Tweet or Instagram how you get your daily dose of Food Network whether it's watching on TV, cooking online recipes or checking out the blog.

I don't know guys, if you talk to any of the people in my life, they will tell you how much of a Food Network fanatic I really am. Just yesterday I picked up the Donut Showdown winning donut from Tim Hortons to enjoy while I read through my many food blogs, including the Food Network Canada Community blog.

When I turn on the television, I gravitate straight towards the trusted channel number 58 and towards my friends, idols and experts on the Food Network. They welcome me into their kitchens, restaurants and homes every day.

I first got involved with the Food Network Canada online community in 2010. It was there I first started learning how to cook and bake. I had just graduated University and was finally out in the big working world. One of those important skills you need as a functioning adult is cooking. So where is the first place you turn to when you want to learn how to be a "top chef"? Obviously, the Food Network; that place that teaches us creativity, instincts, admiration and all we need to be better cooks.

I have participated in many monthly cooking club challenges on the site. Some of my favourite recipes that I have been challenged to make are Anna Olson's Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Michael Smith's Jerk Chicken. If you hadn't guessed already, I also love sharing my food photos with anyone who will look at them, so the chance to share my cooking experiences with the Food Network community has been wonderful. They are such a welcoming and encouraging group, especially when I first started out blogging. 

I have also blogged for the site a few times and on many occasions, I have made a point of meeting--probably more like stalking--my favourite Food Network personalities. One of my hobbies, of course, is finding and covering neat local food events. I always have my eye out for the chance to sample local food and see artisans and chefs in action.

Last year in Toronto, I went to see Gail Simmons at a book signing at Indigo Book Store and got a signed copy of her book "Talking with my Mouth Full." She said it best during her talk to the audience: "What I do for a living is much bigger than eating or going to restaurants. It's about forming a community; it's not just about eating, but sitting at a table together and learning how to understand food." I was so inspired by her motivational talk of her experiences becoming a food editor.

Gail Simmons

I also had the pleasure of meeting the Happy Baker, Erin Bolger when she was touring across Canada to promote her book "The Happy Baker: A Dater's Guide to Emotional Baking." That book has become my go-to baking book whenever the need for "emotional baking" strikes and she is a funny and welcoming person in her book, as well as real life. 

The Happy Baker

At the London Wine and Food Show in 2011, I met Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, the host of Dinner Party Wars and asked him for some dinner party tips and tricks. He told me that the key to a fantastic dinner party is to "cook food that you're familiar with, that's local, seasonal and fresh and you'll be successful." 

Then last fall at the Savour Stratford Festival I saw Top Chef Canada season one contestant Connie DeSousa and season two winner Carl Heinrich. On the right is Toronto-born Food Network host and cookbook author David Rocco, best known for his television show "David Rocco's Dolce Vita." All of the chefs were demonstrating their skills for the crowds at the well-known Stratford food festival. 

One of my favourite Top Chef personalities of all time is Susur Lee. I saw him at Soup Stock Toronto dishing out some Hot and Sour soup all for the cause of stopping the Mega-Quarry. I have also dined at his restaurant Lee in Toronto and made sure to order his winning Top Chef award winning Green Curry Chicken over sweet pea polenta, spiced tomato jam and dried pineapple.

Susur Lee
Lee Restaurant Green Curry Chicken

What do you think? Do I have what it takes to be the Ultimate Food Network Canada Superfan? Do you have any fond memories or experiences with Food Network Canada? 

It's not just about the personalities, fancy kitchens and extravagant pantries (I'm looking at you, Chef Michael Smith) and intense competitions. Food Network connects us all to being creative, passionate and enthusiastic about sharing food; an important thing we can do to improve our lives. 

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