Kitchener-Waterloo

Deep Dish Dialogues at U of G covers sustainable food, culinary traditions and more: Andrew Coppolino

From making ice cream and champagne eggs to cultural cooking during Black History Month, plant-based food and more, University of Guelph’s Deep Dish Dialogues explores the community connections in food and cooking.

Segments are filmed in the newly-renovated Anita Stewart Memorial Food Lab

A chef places food in a white bowl while another looks on.
Langdon Hall chef Jason Bangerter prepares a dish as University of Guelph's Mark Holmes, left, looks on. Bangerter's full segment can now be viewed as part of the university's Deep Dish Dialogues. (Andrew Coppolino/CBC)

While gently whisking a bowl of eggs and champagne over medium heat to make luscious and silky "scrambled eggs," Langdon Hall chef Jason Bangerter is just as interested in talking about the local food economy as he is about his unique breakfast dish. 

His late-September demonstration was on the University of Guelph's "Deep Dish Dialogues," a monthly online series hosted by the Ontario university's School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management.

The cooking demonstration and discussions feature chefs and food experts addressing a variety of topics in the newly-renovated Anita Stewart Memorial Food Laboratory. 

The dialogues blend the practical with the philosophical: Demonstrating the technique allows Bangerter the time to talk about sustainability in our food system — and our responsibility to be informed about it. 

"I think the biggest message I want to send people in events like this is to know where their food comes from. How was your fish sourced? Where did the vegetables come from?" says Bangerter. 

"Be in a position where you're strengthening our environment and our community by supporting those food producers in our community." 

The comment is in good part what the dialogues are designed to do, according to Statia Elliot, director of the school.

"Think of those conversations around your own kitchen table," says Elliot. "We are broadcasting stories about issues like sustainability and community that are all connected to food."

Historic place on campus 

The building that is home for the lab, named for University of Guelph's food laureate the late Anita Stewart, a food activist and expert in Canadian cuisines, in itself connects significant food histories, Elliot adds. 

Three large televisions reproduce a scene below them of a male chef and a woman talking about food.
The Deep Dish Dialogues are filmed in the newly-renovated Anita Stewart Memorial Food Laboratory. Stewart, who died in 2020, was a champion of local food and the founder of Food Day Canada. (Andrew Coppolino/CBC)

"This is a really historic place on campus. It started in 1903 where women came to study home economics. Today, we use the space to educate students about all things food. In our renovated culinary studio, we bring in top chefs, academics and community representatives to demonstrate and discuss."

Built during the Edwardian era, the space had a role instructing young rural women in "domestic science" before it became a training facility for chefs in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

Over the past several months, the dialogues have included demonstrations by Joseph Shawana, an Indigenous chef; Chitra Saravanan, an Indian chef; and cooking by Bashir Munye during Black History Month.

Another dialogue featured Waterloo ice cream entrepreneur Ajoa Mintah of the hugely successful Four All Ice Cream company.

Subject matter goes beyond cooking techniques 

The dialogues have addressed more than cooking techniques: They've taken on topics from plant-based food and baking with spent grain from the brewing process to circular food systems. 

The subject-matter experts come from the university's academic ranks as well as food purveyors and chefs like Bangerter. 

As part of the Lang School of Business and Economics, the lab is used for teaching University of Guelph nutrition and hospitality students about food safety, its preparation and, just as important, its cultural contexts – as well as becoming a "broadcast studio" for the dialogues — which anyone can view on the Lang School of Business YouTube channel. 

In its way, Bangerter's discussion of his philosophy and the demonstration, which also included preparing a sustainable fish dish, was a call to "think global and act local."

He sees as part of his responsibility training his crew of young cooks — the culinary leaders of tomorrow — about growing food in the Langdon Hall gardens and understanding the importance of sustainability and nurturing local economies. They are concepts he says we can all embrace. 

"Everyone at every level can make change when it comes down to climate change simply by their behaviour and their choices," he says.

It's a common theme that unifies the dialogues: Elliot says that sustainability and using local ingredients must be included in the conversation.

"Everybody, in your own kitchen, can be part of the solution."

Upcoming Deep Dish Dialogues:

  • Butchery: to be released Oct. 27.
  • Cooking economically: to be released Nov. 17.
  • Festive wine and spirits: to be released Dec. 1.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Coppolino

Food columnist, CBC Kitchener-Waterloo

CBC-KW food columnist Andrew Coppolino is author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press). He is the 2022 Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewcoppolino.

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