By Raili Roy

If every region has its own flavor, how do we define ours?

Organizers of the Northwestern Ontario Forum for Food, Farms and Tourism plan to spend January 19 with delegates from across the region exploring answers to that question. Guided by experts like award-winning Canadian chef Jamie Kennedy, attendees will spend the day discussing the opportunities for business growth presented by the world’s growing fascination with exploring “taste of place.”
Stakeholders from every industry sector associated with food are invited to attend. 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.

In addition to a keynote presentation by Jamie Kennedy, attendees will participate in facilitated discussion sessions designed to encourage new connections and identify some of the opportunities for promoting and delivering food products between communities of the region. Attendees will have the chance to question a panel of regional food-tourism business owners and hear presentations from local agencies supporting food tourism business. Forrest says they hope to support individual business growth and improved cooperation among food tourism stakeholders, industry sectors and the communities of the region through this event.

Jamie Kennedy says he’s excited to learn more about Northwestern Ontario. “I have been immersed in this work for the past four decades in southern Ontario,” he says. “It is wonderful for me to be given an opportunity to share my experiences with people in Thunder Bay and surrounding communities as you engage with and celebrate your own local bounty.” Kennedy also says he’s looking forward to sampling some of the local flavours himself. In keeping with the theme and in celebration of the amazing local foods available in the region, the staff at the Victoria Inn and Convention Centre will be preparing delicious breakfast, lunch, and morning and afternoon snacks featuring local suppliers.

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 The Northwestern Ontario Forum for Food, Farms and Tourism is supported by the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Northern Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.