Community·OTTAWA PROFILES

'Something very special' about eating together: 4 questions with Tom Marcantonio

CBC In The Kitchen introduces you to local chefs, at-home cooks and food lovers in our city to inspire the conversation as we ask what food and community mean to you.

New CBC Ottawa series inspires conversation about food and community

Tom Marcantonio wants to teach others about the power of planting seeds. (Kate Tenenhouse/CBC)

Tom Marcantonio has built a lush and well-loved garden in his backyard, where he grows tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil and other herbs inspired by his Italian heritage.

He's been working in gardens since he was a kid, learning the traditions from his parents. And now the CBC Trailblazer is passionate about passing on those skills and teaching others about the power of planting seeds. 

When you come together and when you eat together with food that you've grown together, it's something very special. - Tom Marcantonio

As part of the new summer series CBC In The Kitchen, we visited Marcantonio's garden and his home kitchen to see how he takes his cooking from seed to sauce.  

His answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

New CBC Ottawa series inspires conversation about food and community 2:09

How does food inspire you? 

The whole process is inspiring. Right from the concept of saving a seed, planting it under the lights in the late winter when there's still snow out.

But really it's about the end product — the food [...] and knowing how that food got to your plate, I think is priceless. 

Marcantonio grows tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil as well as other herbs and vegetables in his garden. (Kate Tenenhouse/CBC)
What's one ingredient you can't live without? 
There's something inspiring about knowing how your food got to the plate, Marcantonio says. (Illustration by Ginar Ogbit)


An ingredient I don't think I can live without is tomatoes. It's just such a base in sauce, in sandwiches, in salad. It's just really, really important and it's really easy to grow. 

How does food bring people together? 

When you come together and when you eat together with food that you've grown together, it's something very special. 

What does food and community mean to you?

Food and community are inextricably linked. When we have events, people are always bringing cookies and coffee and it is something that can begin a conversation. 

Marcantonio says tomatoes are the one ingredient he couldn't live without. (Kate Tenenhouse/CBC)

CBC In The Kitchen will introduce you to local chefs, at-home cooks and food lovers in our city to inspire the conversation as we ask what food and community mean to you.