On April 20, 2013, we held our third annual Eat Alberta food conference at NAIT. It was our biggest event ever, with 120 registered attendees.
Perogy making with Chef David Omar of Zinc
We know changes are never embraced by everyone, but for the most part we think the implementation of a set track registration system (as opposed to attendees being able to select from all available workshops) was a success! It guaranteed every attendee at least two hands-on classes, and we hope the tracks facilitated some deeper connections with fellow root-ers as well.
Maki makes ricotta!
I have to say I didn’t end up stepping foot in many of the classrooms this year, so while I don’t have personal account of the sessions, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive!
Artisan sausage making with Allan Suddaby
We tried to achieve a balance between new and returning presenters, knowing that our attendees would be made up of those both familiar and unfamiliar with Eat Alberta. For new presenters, we were thrilled to have many members of the food community answer our call, including Nevin Fenske of Drift, who taught the finer points of butchering a whole chicken, and Chad Moss of Shovel and Fork, who inspired many on the merits of homemade bacon.
Nevin teaches The Whole Chicken
To end the day, we were certain a concept like “lightning talks” would be the perfect way to connect attendees with resources beyond our annual event. But we never knew how effective it could be until the presenters blew the doors off the place! The nine speakers were engaging, funny and informative, though it was hard for anyone to top Mark Stumpf-Allen (aka “The Worm Guy” of the Master Composter Program), who threw packages of worms out into the audience during his address.
The Worm Guy!
One of the highlights of the day for me was the unveiling of the tastes, to accompany the wine down after the lightning talks. Allan Suddaby, a chef and one of the organizers, crafted a brilliant board of seasonal, local bites. The icing on the cake was listening to Allan describe each of them! We also poured exclusively Albertan fruit wines, a first for us. Given our provincial mandate, we expanded the selection and brought in Field Stone Fruit Wines, based out of Strathmore, but currently unavailable for purchase in Edmonton. After hearing the comments around the room, however, I think we should lobby for their sale locally!
As a whole, it really helped that we were at the same venue for the second year running – we were able to tighten up some things, partly because we were more familiar with the building, but partly because we worked with staff rock stars, led by Toby and Josh, who made meeting any last minute needs seamless.
We also managed to fill the void of a host this year, one person who could tie the day together and provide some cohesion. Global’s Jennifer Crosby filled those shoes with grace and humour to spare.
It takes a village to put on an event like this. Thank you to the presenters who stepped up to share their knowledge and enthusiasm, to the volunteers who generously donated their time and to the sponsors who believed in what we are trying to achieve. To my fellow organizers – it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work alongside you.
If you are interested in being a part of Eat Alberta, let us know! We’re looking to expand the organizing committee, so just send me an email!
Thanks Valerie for letting me use your photos!