Local food advocates prepare for September’s food festivals

It sounds like a true recipe for success, take 12 Islanders from all walks of life, who are scattered across PEI, make sure that they have a deep love for PEI, and in particular, our local food, and set them loose on social media as ‘local food advocates’.

A new initiative this year, the PEI Fall Flavours Festival and the PEI International Shellfish Festival partnered to recruit chefs, food producers, farmers, writers, culinary instructors, and entrepreneurs to continue doing what they already are, sharing PEI local food stories on social media but now with a specific focus on the festivals’ events and activities.

“We spent a lot of time over the past few months putting together a short list of people we would invite to be part of this pilot. It was a difficult task, because there are so many passionate Islanders singing the praises of our food scene,” Tracey Singleton of Versatile Management Group said.

The local food advocates gathered for a day of training in late August, learning food photography tips from food stylist and photographer Jesse Emin, and social media tips from lifestyle blogger Kayla Short. Sponsored by Red Shores and Atlantic Lottery, the day included opportunities to put the advice into action, with Chef Andrew Smith preparing dishes for the advocates to practice their photography skills, and an afternoon spent out on the water with Raspberry Point Oysters and PEI Aqua Farms.

“I loved getting out there and getting my hands dirty and really getting an idea of what it takes to bring this amazing seafood to our tables,” advocate Stephanie McQuaid said of her experience flipping oyster cages. “Getting on the boat allows me to get a greater appreciation of what it takes to get seafood to your plates and why it is so good.”

Al Douglas and Jeff McCourt search for the perfect angle Photo credit: Laura Weatherbie/Salty

Via Reyes is a food entrepreneur, operating Mellow Dough with her fiance Justin Wilson. She is looking forward to exploring more of the Island with her role as a local food advocate, “Being recognized as someone who loves PEI as much as I do, it’s such a huge honour. Getting to know more about the province and the food that we’re so lucky to have an abundance of here, it’s amazing and I am so excited for September.”

Along with Reyes and McQuaid, the other local food advocates are: Al Douglas, Alyssa Woolridge, Chef Ilona Daniel, Jeff McCourt, Shannon Courtney, Tyler Gallant & Christine Murnaghan, Suzanne Scott, Bryan Maynard, and Ashley Condon. As well, Rebecca Sly, a UK-born chef who now calls PEI home is a part of the team. Sly said, “We are holding one of the world’s best-kept foodie destinations in the palm of our hands here on Prince Edward Island. I want to shout it from the rooftops and show the world what we have to offer.”

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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