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Edible Nonfiction Challenge

Edible Nonfiction Challenge: And the winner is...

What a delicious few weeks it's been here at Canada Writes! We've been treated to original writing by some of Canada's best food scribes, salivated at our judge Ilana Weitzman's descriptions of memorable food writing in her "Food For Thought" blog series and delighted in your diverse and delicious entries in the Edible Nonfiction Challenge.
But every good meal must come to an end -- and today we introduce to you the final course. Our judge, enRoute's editor-in-chief Ilana Weitzman, has handed us the envelope and we have a verdict: 

Crystal Chan of Montreal, QC, is the winner of the Edible Nonfiction Challenge with her entry, "Hunter-Gatherer."


The overall deliciousness of your entries made us at Canada Writes HQ extremely happy -- but it didn't make llana's job any easier. Choosing one winner was, she admits, an extremely hard choice, but here's what Ilana had to say about why she chose Crystal's entry:

"The piece starts with that intimate portrait of the young writer cracking the oysters, but then elegantly transitions to the wider context. In that one moment, you get a feeling for the place, the time, the characters. And I love that line where she says it's like eating the view. There's a lovely cadence to the writing that gives it a poetic feel without being in any way flowery."


Our Q&A with Crystal Chan

We checked in with a very excited Crystal to learn a little more about her.

1. Tell us about yourself.
I now live in Montreal, but "Hunter-Gatherer" alludes to the coast, where I grew up (in Vancouver), and Hong Kong, where I was born. I'm currently a managing editor at La Scena Musicale. It's a classical music magazine that also covers jazz and general arts. Not surprisingly, I'm passionate about the arts: music, movies, books, theatre, dance, anything in between, you name it. Obviously, I also love food. I'll eat almost anything. I'm very happy when I'm cooking, but I also feed this love by surrounding myself with very talented cooks. Sometimes, that's what makes a good friend: a good cook. I turn 25 in two weeks.

2. What do you usually write? 
Since I'm a freelance journalist as well as an editor, I mainly write articles. All kinds of stuff, from a lot of arts pieces, obviously, to pieces on many other aspects of society, including food (none yet about oysters, though). I began by writing fiction and poetry. This started when I was very young, and it dwindled after high school. "Hunter-Gatherer" was the first literary piece, and first piece not on assignment, that I've written in many years.

3. What made you want to take part in the Edible Nonfiction Challenge?
Once I saw that Canada Writes was posting a lot of food writing, I started reading. I have a real soft spot for food writing. And once I found out that that was the theme of a challenge, I knew I wanted to take that challenge.

4. How did you choose this particular story to tell - did you know immediately what you were going to write about?
I didn't know right away. I have a lot of sharp, colourful food memories. Most of us do. I just had particularly vivid ones of my time on this island coast, "hunting" for prey as a kid. Childhood memories about oysters have become kind of a cliché in food writing, but I still chose this memory.

6. Are you planning to take the $200 gift certificate to one of enRoute's Best New Restaurants in Canada as the prize? There are three eligible restaurants in Montreal, after all... 
I never say no to food. So I'm definitely taking a gift certificate. However, it was really tough to pick even one of the Montreal restaurants, and the other ones across Canada also looked amazing. I've tried Le Comptoir, and how much fun that was bodes really well for how much I'm going to enjoy Les 400 Coups. Its namesake is one of my favourite movies. Maybe it'll become one of my favourite places to eat!



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