Cookbook author, Food Day Canada founder Anita Stewart remembered

Cookbook author and Food Day Canada founder Anita Stewart is being remembered for her trailblazing influence in the Canadian food scene.

Niagara Falls will light up in her honour Friday night

Anita Stewart, known by many as a Canadian culinary activist, was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2011. (CP)

Cookbook author and Food Day Canada founder Anita Stewart is being remembered for her trailblazing influence in the Canadian food scene.

Stewart died on Oct. 29.

"Her whole focus was on the wonderful food that there was in Canada, in Ontario," said Elora-based restaurateur Resa Lent.

"People would talk about, 'Oh, I had French food,' and 'I had Italian food,' and I had 'blah blah blah.' Her whole focus was on this incredible food and amazing farmers and fishers and people that were working with what we had right here."

Stewart's mission to celebrate Canadian food led her to establish Food Day Canada in 2003. The annual event falls on the August long weekend and encourages people to cook and eat using local ingredients. 

Stewart was also a long-time food columnist on CBC Radio One. In 2011, she was given the Order of Canada for her work in promoting Canadian cuisine.

Chris Jess (far right) is pictured with his students and Anita Stewart at Rideau Hall. (Submitted by Christopher Jess)

Teacher and chef instructor Chris Jess helped to prepare a meal at the Rideau Hall event along with some of his students and said it was a "life experience."

Jess, who teaches at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus, Ont., said Stewart was already an icon when he started his career. Her belief in the unique character of Canadian food was something he admired as a new chef and something he now tries to convey to his students.

"I think the impact that Anita's had in generating this pride of place, and pride of story, and pride of the people who produce our food, has been very present and evident in all that I've done in my teaching here at the school," said Jess, who plans to set up a cookbook shelf at the school featuring Stewart's books.

In addition to her work as a writer and advocate, Stewart was heavily involved with the University of Guelph. In 2012, she became the university's inaugural "food laureate." 

This year, the university also began construction on the Anita Stewart Alumni Food Laboratory, a facility will teach future students "everything from food preparation and safety to cooking on camera," the university said in a statement.

On Friday, Niagara Falls will be lit up in red and white in Stewart's honour from 10:30 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.