Canucks snubbed in new international top-chefs book
Friday, July 24, 2009 | 02:04 PM ET
By Jessica Wong, CBCNews.ca
Members of Canada's culinary community are outraged that we've been left out of a forthcoming book about the world's best emerging chefs, billed as a guide to "the most exceptional talent in the international restaurant world."
Set for release in October, COCO: 100 Emerging Culinary Stars Chosen by 10 of the World's Greatest Chefs is the latest in publishing house Phaidon's series celebrating emerging artists in different fields, with previous instalments exploring contemporary art, architecture, photographer and graphic design.
The tome taps superstar chefs like Ferran Adria, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters and Alain Ducasse for its hot young chefs list, which appears skewed to the U.S., U.K., Hong Kong, Japan and Europe in general.
When Toronto writer and CBCNews.ca contributor Shaun Smith got wind of the upcoming project about a week ago, he was excited at first — until he was informed that no Canadians had made the cut.
Toronto writer and CBCNews.ca contributor Shaun Smith discovered the snub.
"We have this incredibly dynamic culinary industry here and this book positions itself on the international stage and completely snubs us. For what reason I'm not sure," he told me Friday afternoon.
Despite having utmost respect for the chefs behind the book ("Ferguson Henderson is just one of the greatest chefs alive," he raved), Smith doesn't understand leaving Canada out, nor the other major gaps in their culinary map.
"I don't doubt those young chefs from Australia are deserving, but surely they could have found one from Canada if they can find five from Australia," he said.
The list has just one chef for South America, one for the Middle East, no entries for Mexico nor the entire continent of Africa and "not a soul from India," he noted (Smith has the list of 99 here).
"Imagine if there was no French people in this book. The French would be rioting in the streets! We need to stir up some good, old Canadian indignation over this."
Email campaign for 100th spot
There's still hope. Smith's contacts at Phaidon told him that the 100th entry has yet to be confirmed.
Top chefs like Susur Lee, Rob Feenie, Marc Thuet, Anthony Walsh and Guy Rubino have signed a letter that will be sent to Phaidon next week asking that the final spot be filled by a Canadian.
"Imagine of there was no French people in this book. The French would be rioting in the streets! We need to stir up some good, old Canadian indignation over this." — Food writer Shaun Smith
Also supporting the initiative are members of the greater community, from cookbook authors like Anita Stewart and Jennifer McLagan to food writers like Lucy Waverman, James Chatto and Malcolm Jolley to other foodies and Canadian culinary champions.
On his website, Smith also lists two Phaidon contacts to whom he urges the public to write — whether to nominate a favourite Canuck chef or just to urge for a Canadian choice.
Among those who have already emailed in: Margaret Dickenson, a cookbook author who has written about eating and entertaining whilst travelling the world with her husband (former Canadian ambassador Lawrence Dickenson).
Though celebrity deaths have often shown just how quickly books can get fast-tracked to being published, "I don't hold out a lot of hope, but I think it's a battle that has to be fought to raise some sort of awareness," Smith said.
"While Canada may be best known as a place where you get poutine or some mac and cheese, there's a level of culinary artistry in the country that is, without question, functioning on a world class level."
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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.
About the writers
Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.
Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.
Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.
Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).
Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.
Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.
Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.
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