Special Feature

Foodies work their way through Best of Windsor Cookbook - without preparing a single recipe

Carrie Lee and Martin Denonville spent the last year visiting every restaurant, winery and farm featured in The Best of Windsor Cookbook.

Carrie Lee and Martin Denonville wrapped up their year-long culinary tour Thursday

Carrie Lee and Marin Denonville spent the last year visiting every restaurant, winery and farm featured in The Best of Windsor Cookbook. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

When I started doing food stories for CBC Windsor back in 2013, I never thought it would lead to me becoming an author.

But that's exactly what happened last year when Windsor publisher Biblioasis released The Best of Windsor Cookbook, a collection of nearly 100 recipes from more than 30 local restaurants, farms and wineries inspired by some of my favourite CBC stories.

Since the book came out, I have received a fair bit of feedback. Naturally, most of it has centred around the recipes — it's a cookbook, after all.

Jonathan Pinto interviewing Carrie Lee and Martin Denonville about their year-long adventure. (Alex Denonville)

But then I heard from Alex Denonville. His feedback was a little different.

He'd given a copy of the book to his parents, Carrie and Martin, as a Christmas present. Instead of deciding to cook their way through it, they chose to use it as a travel guide.

"I thought it would be a good idea to visit every one of the restaurants in the book," Martin explained. "We had to go together, and we would try to get pictures and a signature [from the owner] — within a year."

At each stop, Carrie took pictures and posted an update on Facebook. (Carrie Lee/Facebook)

"What we learned so quickly — it wasn't about the food, it was about the people we met." Carrie said. "There were times it was moving ... to have conversations with people and they would tell their stories."

One story that really stood out was told by Mark Dutka, the cocktail genius behind The Blind Owl in downtown Windsor. His family once owned Abars, the storied bar on Riverside Drive that was demolished in 2016.

"I had tears in my eyes," Carrie said. "I think he did too ... the fact that he would share that with us, that was one that really stands out."

Getting the book signed by the author himself. (Alex Denonville)

On Thursday, Martin and Carrie invited me to join them for dinner at their final destination, Remo's Brick Oven Pizza in the Caboto Club. 

​They invited about 20 friends and family, many of whom had been following Carrie's Facebook posts along the way.

Over some of the city's best thin-crust pizza, I asked them about their journey. Tap on the audio to hear some of our conversation.

Carrie Lee and Martin Denonville talk to Jonathan Pinto about their year-long journey visiting every restaurant, winery and farm featured in The Best of Windsor Cookbook. 1:53

Jonathan Pinto is CBC Windsor's food reporter. Hear his latest tasty story every other Monday at 4:45 p.m. on CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive with Chris dela Torre, and at 6 p.m. on CBC Television's CBC News Windsor with Arms Bumanlag.

About the Author

Jonathan Pinto

Jonathan Pinto is a reporter/editor at CBC Windsor, primarily assigned to Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.