After spending more than a year-and-a-half at home, Canadians have had the time to sharpen their amateur chef skills. From making simple dishes from scratch and perfecting their knife techniques to feeding their own sourdough starter, people from coast to coast have a newfound respect for freshly prepared food.
The growing interest in how we feed ourselves, paired with the ability to make everyday meals more refined, has led Canadians to seek out elevated experiences when dining out — expecting no less than what they can prepare themselves at home. Post-pandemic patrons are eager to try new cuisines and look for unique dining experiences that will allow them to dig into authentic dishes that incorporate premium products and quality ingredients for that international taste they’ve been missing.
When travelling in another country, there’s nothing quite like discovering a quaint little restaurant serving fresh local delicacies. With many international dining options available in cities across Canada, it’s the integration of authentic, high-quality ingredients that set the best apart.
According to Chef Roberto Fracchioni, ambassador for Prosciutto di Parma in Canada, the lockdown, lack of travel, and lust for wander has sparked a new desire to enjoy international flavours locally. “Consumers want inspired cuisine that will remind them of a trip abroad, even if it is just for one night,” he said.
“For the past decade, local ingredients and flavours have been front and centre in menus across the country. And while Canadians remain committed to supporting local businesses, the time spent at home honing their cooking skills has led them to develop a craving for elevated, internationally inspired dining experiences. Patrons are eager to discover new, higher-end flavours and traditional premium products imported from their countries of origin are the ideal way to achieve that fulfilling international edge everyone is longing for. Products featuring the PDO seal offer exactly that,” he added.
PDO, short for Protected Designation of Origin, stands as a European Community system designed to provide legally binding name protection for an elite group of high-quality foods. All cheeses, cured meats, and other products awarded PDO certification are made according to traditional methods in a specific geographic region in Europe. The PDO seal helps consumers, retailers, chefs, and others in distinguishing between authentic European products and their many imitators.
One example is Prosciutto di Parma. Its PDO seal, paired with the Parma Crown brand, guarantees provenance, authenticity, superior quality, and premium taste. When compared to other prosciutti, Prosciutto di Parma is unique in that it is aged a minimum of 400 days, cured only with pure sea salt and is 100 per cent free of any other additives, including nitrites and nitrates.
“Education about the origin and traditional processes that are followed to guarantee the consistent quality of these products is essential to protect the heritage of the Prosciutto di Parma brand, and other PDO brands,” said Stefano Fanti, Director of the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma in Italy. “Whether served on its own alongside fresh produce or as inspiration for a new dish, we want Canadians to continue to enjoy the unique aroma and serving versatility of Prosciutto di Parma. Prior to the pandemic, Canada was one of the largest importers of Prosciutto di Parma in the world. As patrons rediscover the pleasures of dining out, we are pleased to see that restaurateurs from coast to coast aim to deliver a unique dining experience by serving premium quality ingredients.”
As summer wraps and fall menu preparation begins, Chef Massimo Capra from Capra’s Kitchen in Mississauga, Ont., believes diners will expect a combination of traditional and contemporary dishes that will feature premium products, alongside fresh, local produce.
“I have been serving Prosciutto di Parma, and other heritage brands alongside local ingredients for years,” Capra said. “As we settle into the fall, I am excited to bring back some comforting dishes that will provide guests with that international experience they crave. A personal favourite of mine is a rich bolognese, with the soffritto made from freshly sourced vegetables, and decadent, slow-cooked beef, pork, and pancetta. And of course, nothing beats a classic charcuterie board with thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma and freshly baked focaccia — simple, quality ingredients, at their prime.”
From true Italian to made-in-Mexico, adventure-hungry palates will be fulfilled this fall with authentic international flavours being added to menus, offering a unique experience to those ready to leave their own kitchens behind.