Feeding the G20 vultures

food-g20-kennedy-584.jpgCelebrated Canadian chef Jamie Kennedy serves up wild Huron white fish to the reporters at the G20 media centre in Toronto. (Lianne Elliott/CBC)

By Lianne Elliott, CBC News

lianne-elliott-52.jpgIf there's one thing us journalists love, it's eating. Put food in front of us, and we'll gobble it up like a pack of hungry vultures.

So that's why it was a stroke of marketing genius to bring Ontario celebrity chefs and their home-grown Ontario foods to the G20 media centre to feed the international masses, and promote Ontario's food industry along the way.

Three thousand hungry journalists eating your food can't be bad for business.

"We have remarkable products right here in our own province," said Ontario government spokeswoman Jennifer Lang. "We're thrilled to showcase what we have to offer. It's a great way to promote Ontario."

And they haven't held back on showing off Ontario's yummiest creations.

Celebrity chefs have been rolling through the media centre every few hours, offering tastings of their finest foods, made almost entirely with local ingredients. And of course, every tasting has been paired with local wine and beer, or home-brewed Muskoka Rostery coffee, flavoured with maple.

And have no fear - this isn't Ontario tax dollars at work. The food and labour is all donated for free.

The response so far has been positive.

"These burgers are really good," said Stephanie Marin of La Presse Canadienne, while nibbling on a gourmet mini hamburger. "Maybe we appreciate it so much more because we're so tired."

So what has been served up so far? Here's look at a couple of dishes:


(Lianne Elliott/CBC)

These melt-in-your mouth mini burgers, topped with shitake mushrooms, are the ones Marin was raving about. They were prepared by Muskoka chef David Friesen, who runs the Riverwalk restaurant in Bracebridge, Ont. The beef was raised in Muskoka and the mushrooms were picked fresh from the same region just the day before the burgers were served.

"We try to feature local products, local foods and serve local, fresh market ingredients," Friesen said. "Muskoka as a region shouldn't only be known for its lakes. There's a real local food movement going on."


(Lianne Elliott/CBC)

Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy offered journalists a taste of savory white fish, caught wild in Lake Huron. Keeping with the local Ontario theme - the fish was served on bite-sized blinis (tiny pancakes) made with Red Fife wheat grown in Peterborough and topped with home-grown raddish, red onion and white fish roe.

Finishing touch? A garnnish of orange nasturtium flowers from Kennedy's restaurant garden.


(Lianne Elliott/CBC)

Breakfast this morning was a homemade pancake topped with fresh whipped cream made from local dairy products and fresh picked strawberries. A delicious way to start the G20.

"We try to keep it as close to home as we can," says chef Donna Dooher of Mildred's Temple Kitchen restaurant in Toronto.


(Lianne Elliott/CBC)

And of course, to wash it all down, some Muskoka beer.