“Celebrate what you want to see more of”

“Celebrate what you want to see more of”
– Tom Peters, Author, In Search of Excellence

Last Tuesday afternoon, I was lucky enough to take in the Taste of Nova Scotia Prestige Awards; easily the most delicious awards show I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. The awards took place in the middle of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia’s (TIANS) Tourism Summit, and recognized eight Taste Members for innovation and excellence in their contributions to the province’s culinary landscape.

On a broader level, the luncheon served as an opportunity for some of the leaders in the Nova Scotia food community to celebrate their success and the growing recognition of Nova Scotia as a world leader in the culinary and viticulture sectors.

Adding to the event’s awesomenisity was the fact that it was catered entirely by Taste members. Having endured countless rubber chicken dinners and multiple bouts with the dreaded “soup and sandwich” luncheon, this was a welcome and delicious change up – and a strong case for catering local. If my taste buds could sing, they would be belting out Tina Turner’s classic “Simply the Best” (which, upon review, has a really, really weird video)…

Fourteen Taste members set up grazing stations around the perimeter of the room, allowing attendees the opportunity to taste local product and learn more about how it was made. Lesson learned for next time, go in to this event with a strategy, as my gift of gab resulted in only making it to three stations before the awards got under way (that said, they were delicious stations)….

My taste buds’ award-winning journey got off to a delicious start, compliments of Atlantica Hotel & Marina Oak Island with chef Scott Youden’s Duck Confit Salad. A lovely combination of rich and crisp….

Next up, John Brett from Tideview Cider introduced me to a refreshing taste of Peach Cider, one of many beverages they produce.

And finally, just before the awards ceremony started, I made sure to stop by Cocoa Pesto’s station to enjoy a pulled pork sandwich. In Twitter speak – #deliciousgamechanger.

I’m at least 70% sure one of the ingredients Chef Scott Geddes used was magic, because this sando was overflowing with spectacular (and delicious pork), requiring multiple napkins.

The awards program, MC’d by Taste of Nova Scotia executive director, Janice Ruddock, focused on recognizing the people who make Nova Scotia’s culinary environment world class as well as the passion and pride they pour into everything they do.

There were a number of touching moments throughout the ceremony, most notably for me the acceptance speeches of Jimmy and Margie Lamb of Meadowbrook Meat Market, who I had the opportunity to meet earlier in the year. Jimmy and Margie touched on how pleased they would be to share the award with their staff in Berwick. Jimmy’s soft spoken acknowledgement of how happy Meadowbrook was to be able to provide meaningful jobs to the Berwick area was truly touching.

Aidan (Schoolhouse Gluten Free Gourmet) shared the story of how being diagnosed with Celiac Disease served as an inspiration to provide those with dietary challenges with the products that would not only make their lives easier, but on a broader level to fall in love with food all over again. By the way, I fell in love with Schoolhouse’s Pumpkin Muffins, the Consumer Choice Product of the Year, which were provided to all attendees as a parting gift.

The ceremony also had its lighter moments:

– Heather Rankin, co-owner of The Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, who, upon accepting the award generated laughter by exclaiming “I feel like Celine Dion!” in her best French Canadian accent.

Schoolhouse Gluten Free Gourmet’s Aidan Brunn, who, accepting the award for Consumer Choice Product of the Year following Heather Rankin’s speech noted: “Talk about intimidating, I never thought I’d have to follow a Rankin on stage.”

– The crowd also burst into laughter when, in a clear case of a picture being worth a thousand words, a photo of a young chef Alain Bossé with lobster in hand appeared on screen as he was accepting the Gary MacDonald Culinary Ambassador of the Year Award.

Delicious food and drink, a fun, “family-like” atmosphere, and some inspiring stories all served to make the 2011 Taste of Nova Scotia Prestige Awards a memorable experience for me. There is much to be proud of, and much to celebrate in this province.

Full list of 2011 Taste of Nova Scotia Prestige Award Winners

Innovative Product of the Year – Lavender Syrup, Sledding Hill, Bear River
Restaurant of the Year – Chef Inspired Fine Dining – Fleur de Sel, Lunenburg
Restaurant of the Year – Chef Inspired Casual Dining- Charlotte Lane Café, Shelburne
Restaurant of the Year – Essence of Nova Scotia- The Red Shoe Pub, Mabou
Producer of the Year- Meadowbrook Meat Market, Berwick
Server of the Year- Simone Mombourquette, Trattoria della Nonna, Lunenburg
Consumer Choice Product of the Year- Pumpkin Muffins, Schoolhouse Gluten-Free Gourmet, Mahone Bay
Gary MacDonald Culinary Ambassador of the Year- Chef Alain Bossé, The Kilted Chef

One Response to “Celebrate what you want to see more of”

  1. Martha says:

    great blog….really nicely written…gives one a sense of having been there.

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