Events

SIAL Canada Back With A Bang In Its 16th Edition

North America’s largest food innovation show is back bigger and better than ever, and for its 16th edition SIAL Canada will be held again in Toronto from April 30th to May 2nd at the Enercare Centre. Like the Rogers Cup, SIAL Canada is hosted in Montreal one year and then Toronto the year after that. I had so much fun last year in Montreal at my first SIAL Canada experience and was blown away at the enormous scale that it was. This is the trade show to be at if you are involved in any way within the food and beverage industry. A resounding 2018 success in Montreal, SIAL Canada last year welcomed 1,068 exhibitors and brands from 51 countries, where an astonishing 20,771 professional visitors made their way out to the 240,000 sq ft facility inside the Palais des Congres. It’s a must-attend event for anyone who wants to stay on top with the upcoming food trends.

For a full recap of my 2018 experience of SIAL Canada in Montreal, I’ve documented my experience in the blog post HERE.

This year I’ve been brought on as an official media sponsor for SIAL Canada and I cannot wait to show you all the new and innovative food products that will be coming out of it. One of my favourite aspects of this international food and beverage trade show is that it’s a “one-shop-stop.” It’s the only national trade show that offers a complete range of food products under one roof, whether it’s retail, catering, or food processing, you can find it all at SIAL Canada all under one roof. Even regional specialties from half way around the world you can find it here! SIAL Canada is not only key to the Canadian agrifood industry, but it’s also a priviledged entryway to the U.S. and international markets.

In fact, every year SIAL Canada honours one specific country during the trade show that has had and still has a large impact towards the Canadian food industry. This country will be featured heavily throughout the three days. Last year the country of honour was Spain. This year SIAL Canada names Italy as 2019’s Country of Honour. If you love Italian food like I do, this is the one year you do not want to miss!

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There will also be two brand new sectors making its inauguration in Toronto: Beverages and Food Start Ups. As SIAL Canada understands the current market trends, it created a new space dedicated to beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and food start-ups where fifteen young dynamic companies will illustrate this new branch of the industry: Food Tech. Last but not least there will also be a brand new international cheese competition that aims to highlight the innovation, know-how, and passion of cheese-makers at an international level. You literally can get full at SIAL Canada just by going booth to booth trying all the cheese samples. Trust me, I’ve been there!

With all these new and exciting additions to this year’s show, my favourite part of SIAL Canada has to still be the SIAL Innovation Awards! It’s a unique international contest that rewards the best innovations in food and non-food related products such as packaging and containers. The contest is open to all SIAL Canada exhibitors where the contestants are judged on the four following criteria: packaging, manufacturing process, merchandising, and recipe.

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The unveiling of the SIAL Innovation 2019 finalists happened just this past week in Toronto at Second Floor Events. Dana McCauley, SIAL Canada 2019 Innovation Ambassador was on hand to kick things off to a room full of industry professionals. She re-iterates that one of the most important things the jury must do each year is to take time to think beyond their personal feelings about the products submitted for evaluation, and must assess whether the products have a clear and solid value proposition for their intended target market. Once all that is considered, the top 10 most innovative products are chosen and the official awards for the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners will be handed out during the very first day of the show! Lots and lots of money will be at stake! $20,000 to be exact!

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Take a look below at the top 10 SIAL Innovation 2019 Finalists!

Vegan Tofu Dips - A&M Gourmet Foods Inc.

Booth #1221

Booth #1221

Seaweed Fed Lamb - Les Bergeries Du Margot

Booth #937

Booth #937

Instant Miso Soup - Abokichi Inc.

Booth #133

Booth #133

Partake Pale Ale - Craft Non-Alcoholic Beer - Partake Brewing

Booth #133

Booth #133

Todd’s Protein Crisps - Evova Foods Inc.

Booth #149

Booth #149

Vegan Keto Buns - Unbun Keto Foods.

Booth #1311

Booth #1311

Ice - Lofbergs Canada Inc.

Booth #905

Booth #905

Yellofruit

Booth #2145

Booth #2145

Naturalbliss Infusions

Booth #133

Booth #133

Raw Cookie Dough - Yummy Doh

Booth #949

Booth #949

Personally I cannot wait to check out all of these innovative products at this year’s show! If you’re unable to make it down in person to this year’s SIAL Canada, make sure you stay tuned right here as I will be writing a follow up blog post in the next few weeks to document everything that happened inside the Enercare Centre including which product will get crowned the winner at this year’s SIAL Innovation Awards! However if you’re able to come down in person (which I highly, highly recommend!), make sure you attend the most anticipated event of the show on April 30th at 10:30AM happening at Booth #625!

If you still have not registered for your visitor’s badge at this year’s SIAL Canada, make sure you do so HERE. What are you waiting for? I’ll see you all there!

Plant-Based Dinner and Converstations with Aeroplan

The past few months have been a whirlwind. I’ve been traveling a lot lately and from this constant travel naturally for me comes a lot of food. I travel to eat and eat to travel. No doubt about it! Do I eat healthy when I’m traveling abroad though? Not always. When I’m on the move it’s just so easy to pick up a quick snack and go. Junk food? Admittedly so. Lately it’s also been a lot of seafood and meat in my diet, so I’ve actually been craving some hearty and healthy vegetables after coming home from my trips in Prince Edward Island, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Florida. Those cravings luckily were satisfied ten fold.

Aeroplan hosted a plant-based dinner and conversation for some of their Aeroplan Diamond members at Evergreen Brick Works with two world-renowned plant-based chefs David Lee and Chad Sarno. Chef David Lee is the Executive Chef and co-owner of Toronto’s incredibly successful vegan restaurant Planta. He also holds fine-dining experience from all around the globe with an immense respect for sourcing quality ingredients, and is seen as a leader in plant-based cuisine space. On the other hand, Chef Chad Sarno from Texas is not only a creative genius in the kitchen with plant-based cuisine, but he’s also an educator, cookbook authour, and entrepreneur as co-founder of “Good Catch Foods,” a 100% plant-based seafood line launching December 2018. You know if you had these two culinary giants at the helm of one’s dinner you were in for a real treat. You could sense both of their passions for plant-based dining every time they told their stories and described their meatless dishes.

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Aeroplan has been partnering with some of Canada’s top culinary events, and if you would like to explore some other culinary events Aeroplan has been a part of this year, make sure you check out my previous blog posts.

It was truly a magical evening where the night’s dinner explored the idea of sustainable agriculture and the hottest trend in the food world right now: plant-based dining. Aeroplan created an evening aimed to inspire a new appreciation for the importance of local agriculture, healthy eating, and an understanding of just how well anyone can eat without any meat. The night started off with an open bar and plant-based horderves being served to guests mingling outside the dining area. After everyone got their bubbly and a sampling of what was to come, the main event would begin and guests started entering the main dining hall to get settled for the four-course plant-based meal. And oh yes, there was even wine pairings with each course!

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The four dishes were split between the two chefs to prepare where Chef David Lee prepared the first and fourth course, and Chef Chad Sarno prepared the second and third course. The second course for me personally from Chef Chad Sarno was my favourite of the night. I honestly have never ever tasted a dumpling as good as the one he made. It wasn’t the filling that caught my taste buds by surprise, but the dough. When asked how me made it, he simply said it was just flour and water. The good thing is his dumpling recipe is included in his cookbook, so it’s safe to say which recipe I will be hunting down next!

Take a look below and see some of the moments we savoured from that night’s meal. A meatless dinner that for sure was inspiring as it was delicious.

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FIRST

Cookstown Greens Hubbard Squash, White Kimchi, Pears, Pumpkin Pesto & Chicharron

Cookstown Greens Hubbard Squash, White Kimchi, Pears, Pumpkin Pesto & Chicharron

SECOND

Corn Dumplings, Coconut Corn Broth, Chiles & Herbs

Corn Dumplings, Coconut Corn Broth, Chiles & Herbs

THIRD

Charred Hoisin Maitake, Sesame Rice Cake, Pickled Cauliflower, Brussel Leaves & Mint

Charred Hoisin Maitake, Sesame Rice Cake, Pickled Cauliflower, Brussel Leaves & Mint

FOURTH

Niagara Peninsula Apple Pie, Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Corn Nuts & Quebec Maple Syrup

Niagara Peninsula Apple Pie, Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Corn Nuts & Quebec Maple Syrup

I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming winter months in Toronto when Aeroplan becomes the premier sponsor for Winterlicious. Bring on the snow!

Moments To Savour With Aeroplan

Toronto is a city full of food festivals and with summer in full swing some of the city's top culinary events is happening right now! Most notably one of my favourite summer foodie events, Summerlicious! Seventeen glorious days of three-course prix fixe menus at 200 of Toronto's top restaurants is being offered to guests looking to have a great meal with friends and family for lunch or dinner all across the GTA. 

If you're an Aeroplan member it gets even better for you. You may not even realize that you not only get the many perks of travel rewards with Aeroplan, but those perks also extend out to some great food options that provides benefits to Aeroplan members only. 

For the second year in a row, Aeroplan is the Premier sponsor of the "Licious" properties in Toronto. Aeroplan recognizes that great food plays an integral part of any travel experience, so partnering up with Summerlicious again in Toronto was a no-brainer. 

Running from July 6th to July 22nd, Summerlicous will showcase Toronto's diverse cuisine with delicious three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus ranging as low as $23 for lunch and as high as $53 for dinner depending on which restaurant you go to.

For anyone who's dined at a Summerlicious restaurant before you probably know how hard sometimes it is to get a reservation especially at some of Toronto's favourite restaurants. Well if you're an Aeroplan member already you're in luck. That's because Aeroplan members get the opportunity to make advance reservations at participating restaurants before the general public can to ensure you get the date and time you want! This year Aeroplan members were able to make advance Summerlicious reservations on June 20th, a full day before the general public was able to. And speaking from experience a full 24 hour advantage can make all the difference in getting that coveted 6:30PM table on a Saturday. 

It gets better. 

Aeroplan members will also enjoy special privileges at select Summerlicious restaurants just by showing the waiter your Aeroplan card or an Aeroplan-affilliated credit card upon arrival. Below are the bonus perks that Aeroplan members will get if you choose to dine at any of these restaurants: 

My first Summerlicious restaurant this year was Bymark from celebrity chef Mark McEwan situated in Toronto's busy financial district. A fine dining restaurant inside the underground passageways of the Path, it's $53 dinner menu serves up Canadian, contemporary food with elegance and style in a dark and intimate setting. Not to mention their famous burger is also on the dinner menu (one of the very best in the city!)

Appetizers

Seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi  - wasabi aioli, cilantro, yuzu soy vinaigrette

Seared Ahi Tuna Sashimi - wasabi aioli, cilantro, yuzu soy vinaigrette

Venison Carpaccio  - spiced blueberries, arugula, grainy dressing, gaufrette potato

Venison Carpaccio - spiced blueberries, arugula, grainy dressing, gaufrette potato

Main

Bymark 7oz Burger  - brie, sauteed mushrooms, truffle aioili, crisp frites

Bymark 7oz Burger - brie, sauteed mushrooms, truffle aioili, crisp frites

Seared Scallops  - crab potato croquettes, cauliflower puree, beech mushrooms, leeks, shellfish bisque

Seared Scallops - crab potato croquettes, cauliflower puree, beech mushrooms, leeks, shellfish bisque

Dessert 

Lemon Meringue Cake  - lemon curd, lemon sponge cake, toasted meringue

Lemon Meringue Cake - lemon curd, lemon sponge cake, toasted meringue

Bymark Chocolate Bar  - white and dark chocolate mousse, caramel crunch

Bymark Chocolate Bar - white and dark chocolate mousse, caramel crunch

It is through these type of culinary partnerships that Aeroplan will help bring more people together with food and drink. Personally when I travel the fondest memories I have is the food I eat with the people that mean the most in my life. Those are the moments I will savour. 

If you're not an Aeroplan member yet, enrol now HERE and start enjoying all the benefits that Aeroplan has to offer! 

Schneiders Craft Meatery

There are a handful of Canadian brands that are recognized instantly. Roots, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire are just some part of this elite group. Another notable brand that has been part of the lives of Canadians since 1890, in the fridge and on the dinner tables of Canadian families is Schneiders. For over a century the Schneiders brand has been grounded in quality products crafted without compromise for its premium cuts of meat using the original J.M. Schneider family recipes. 

If you live in Canada and ate a hot dog, a sandwich, or even indulged in a charcuterie board (which is pretty much everyone!), you've definitely had Schneiders before. Now in 2018, the iconic Schneiders brand is undergoing some important changes to reinforce its market leading position for craftsmanship. Using its signature methods like traditional hardwood smoking and original recipe formulations, Schneiders will go through some extensive packaging changes across its product portfolio. 

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To showcase this new era and resetting the entire product lineup of wieners, sausage, bacon, deli, sliced meats, ham, meat snacks, and bologna, Schneiders put on the Craft Meatery in Toronto. They invited local media and food influencers to taste the quality meats inside Toronto's backyard BBQ joint Big Crow with acclaimed Chef Anthony Rose at the helm. 

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Throughout the night Schneiders and Chef Anthony Rose put out a stellar menu drawing upon 128-year old recipes using only premium cuts of meat with extraordinary taste and elevated artisanal flavours. Some of my favourite Schneiders dishes of the night included:

  • Carved Ham with Cheese Grits and Heirloom Tomato Relish
  • Pigs in a Blanket with Honey Mustard and Everything Bagel Spices
  • Spicy Italian Sausage Taquitos with Charred Tomatillo Salsa 
  • Pealmeal Bacon and Zucchini Kehab with Buttermilk Dressing 
  • Grilled Bologna with Roasted Chilli and Fried Garlic 
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All of these Schneiders products you see here recently went through a culinary panel of experts signalling its commitment to making their food better than ever. Fourteen respected Canadian restauranteurs, chefs, and food critics conducted blind taste tastes for over 100 Schneiders products for nearly a year-long period to ensure their full line of meats lived up to the high quality and taste standards that the brand is committed to. None of these products went to the market that was not signed off by this panel, so you can bet that all of the dishes served here in the Craft Meatery was at the highest standards. 

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All of Schneiders' renovated products are already being rolled out and can be found in grocery stores all across Canada. Find Schneiders at various community events throughout this summer and autumn where you may even be able to see their Craft Meatery Food Truck cruising down the streets. 

SIAL CANADA - North America's Largest Food Innovation Trade Show in Montreal

Back in May I was invited to fly to Montreal, Quebec on a press trip to take part in the SIAL CANADA International Food Show in North America, the largest of its kind. If you work in the food industry, sell/buy food products, or just a self-proclaimed foodie this is THE place to be. This is the only show supported by governments (Federal and Provincial) bringing together the retail, food service, and equipment industries all under one roof. Much like the Rogers Cup in tennis, this food show alternates between Montreal and Toronto to cover all the local and regional demand. For three full days this year inside Montreal's Palais des Congres, this 15th edition of the SIAL Canada International Food Show was in full force which brought together more than 1,000 exhibitors ready to meet with 18,500 visitors. A show that sold out three months ahead of its opening day, I was very eager to explore everything this food show and the city of Montreal had to offer.

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After I landed in Montreal late at night before my first official day at SIAL, Corporate Stays provided me with a beautiful apartment in the heart of downtown Montreal for my accommodations. Handpicked properties around the world, Corporate Stays matches business travelers with unique places to stay that gives you a sense of home and comfort while you are traveling abroad. With a relaxing and comfortable sleep every night and being a short walk away from the Palais des Congres I was well-rested and ready to learn, eat, drink, and be inspired by the days ahead.

The first day at the SIAL international food show was a busy one. I could see how this was the largest food show in North America because the floor plan was huge! Spanning 240,000 sq ft, SIAL Canada is the only national trade show that offers up a complete range of food products, food-related equipment, and technologies which meet the three different needs of food retailing, food service, and food processing. 

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Before I went down to the main floor where all the booths from 50 different countries were present showcasing their latest products, I spent the majority of the day taking in as much knowledge as I could. School was in session! A unique thing about SIAL Canada is it hosts a ton of conferences covering the current trends and innovation in regards to the most essential food-related information from a network of experts with varied backgrounds. It's the best way to keep abreast in the latest developments in the food industry. Below are some of the main points from each of the conferences I attended, and a lot of this information has never been released anywhere else so far.

CANNABIS IN FOOD 

  • Federal Responsibilities: establishing a comprehensive national framework for regulating production, setting standards for health and safety, and establishing criminal prohibitions
  • Provincial Responsibilities: license the distribution and sale of cannabis, restrict where cannabis can be consumed, amend provincial and territorial traffic safety laws to address impaired driving (cannabis)
  • Legal Age of Consumption: 18+ (Quebec), 19+ (All Other Provinces)
  • 46% of Canadians would try cannabis-infused food products if available
  • Cannabis Edibles Packaging and Labeling: standardized health warnings, single-uniform colour, child-resistant/opaque packaging with statement "Keep Out Of Reach of Children"
  • Canadians would consider buying marijuana-infused baked goods the most in the grocery stores
  • No best before date announced yet
  • Cannabis infused food cannot appeal to children in Canada (eg. no gummy bears)

BATTLE OF PROTEINS: ANIMAL VS. PLANT

  • 2/3 of Canadians trying to improve their eating habits for better health
  • 51% of Canadians eat protein everyday, and 31% of those people believe the type of protein (animal vs. plant) is important
  • 37% of Canadians believe you won't get enough nutrients if you don't eat meat
  • 43% of Canadians are trying to include more of a plant-protein based diet
  • Improved health, manage weight, and eating clean are what motivates Canadians to go to a plant-based diet
  • Biggest barrier to move towards plant protein is the price (too costly)
  • Even with a price increase in bacon, Canadians ate the same amount (Canadians love bacon!)

WHAT IS THE ROLE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY/GMOS (Genetically Modified Organisms) IN THE FUTURE OF FOOD

  • In 50 years, the growing global population will require an estimated 100% more food than we produce today
  • The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that 70% of the world's additional food needs can be produced only with the adoption of modern agricultural technologies
  • Genetically modified soybeans - largest and most rapidly expanding component of Canadian soybean production will play a vital role in feeding the future world
  • Genetically modified soybeans have the potential to offer environmental, quality, productivity, and affordability advantages
  • Biotechnology and pesticides help farmers work more efficiently, leading to significant environmental savings on fuel, greenhouse gases, and wilderness preservation
  • Without pesticides and biotech crops, Canada would need 50% more farmland to produce what we grow today
  • Ultimately, the ratio of non-genetically modified to genetically modified will continue to be determined by divergent consumer preferences and willingness to pay premiums that offset production disadvantages

With a full day of absorbing as much food knowledge as I could behind me, one of the most exciting events was just ahead. Montreal is full of culinary talent with some of the very best restaurants in the country. Born in this city, our very own Canadian celebrity chef Chuck Hughes from the Food Network is the chef and co-owner of his restaurant Garde Manger located in stunning Old Montreal. Media was invited to an intimate dinner cooked by Chuck himself as he spoiled us with meal to remember consisting of a huge platter of fresh seafood, porchetta, beef carpaccio, scallops, ricotta gnocchi, truffle cencioni pasta, honey bbq pork chop, and an array of decadent desserts to end the night. Check out our delicious spread below!

The next morning was another full day of adventure and it all started with a market tour led by Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly and Molly Superfine-Rivera of Montreal's Marconi. Although it was raining all morning it didn't damper our moods as we walked right over to the famed Jean-Talon Market to see just where all the fresh and local produce comes from.

Returning to the Palais des Congres shortly after it was time to tackle the show floor! Where do you even start!? With over 1,000 exhibitors it can definitely get overwhelming but my plan was just to walk through section by section starting with the biggest area which was dedicated to Spain. SIAL Canada this year announced that Spain was the country of honour as over the last several years economic ties between the two countries have considerably increased, demonstrating a tremendous growth potential. Anything food related in terms of Spanish cuisine and Spanish culture and products were located right here! 

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Of course I naturally spent a lot of time in the cheese area where sampling all kinds of cheese and dairy products from all corners of the world acted as a small lunch for me. Ice cream, coffee, crackers, and even fresh salmon were just a small handful of samples visitors were able to try. If you were a buyer and sampled something you liked and wanted to pursue a deal with the vendor, a dedicated meeting room on the floor was where all the money transactions happened. A professional meeting ground for businesses to come together all under one roof to explore different partnerships to potentially drive up food innovation to places around the globe that may have never seen a product offered there before.

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One of the most exciting things that happen during the SIAL international food show is SIAL Innovation - the only international contest with a presence in all four corners of the world that rewards the best innovations in food and non-food related products such as packaging and containers. Made up of food industry experts, the annual jury rewards ten finalists and this year handed out three Grand Prizes including one special organic prize and one special packaging prize. Winners are selected on the following four criteria: packaging, manufacturing process, merchandising, and recipe. Below you will find the top ten finalists and all of the winners chosen at the 2018 SIAL Innovation Awards!

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  • Pea Pops by Three Farmers (GOLD)
  • Ready - To - Eat Vegan Meals by Cucina & Amore (SILVER)
  • Cricket-Based Protein Bars by Crickstart (BRONZE)
  • Raw, Organic Gazpachos by Impress Foods (ORGANIC WINNER)
  • Yogurt From Grass Fed Cows by Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt (PACKAGING WINNER)
  • Organic Fruits Liquid Puree from Next Ingredients
  • Organic Puffed-Dried Fruits and Vegetables by EWA-BIS
  • Vegetarian Meal Salads by Mavitrine Bio
  • Bio-Based Ingredients by Fumoir Grizzly
  • Extra Fruit Chia Fruit Spreads by World of Chia

Next year SIAL Canada will be back in Toronto and I cannot wait to see where food innovation will take us next! Make sure you buy your tickets early because as mentioned before this show was already sold out three months ahead of its opening day this year! It's truly a must-attend event for the retail, food service, and food processing industries, yet for an ordinary person like me who just loves food it was still very much an eye-opening, educational, and memorable experience. See you all there in Toronto next year! 

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