The concept of how society is reflected in our food culture and spaces is one that shifts with each generation. The reason behind the industry’s current shift towards favouring the artisan—extremely skilled craft workers making extremely delicious food—is one that Chef and Culinary Curator Charlotte Langley perfectly captures: “Humans are being challenged socially now more than ever and are moving farther and farther away from social intimacy. When it comes to food and hospitality, the spaces, places and products being developed that nourish an individual’s tastes, are growing as we crave and desire exclusive experiences. I feel humanity wants closer, one-on-one experiences with their food.”
There are many players in the artisanal movement, most of which have been around for many years despite the movement’s recent traction. They each bring their own story on how they evolved to become part of the movement, but share the common thread of a passion of bringing artistry and passion into food.
Chef’s Warehouse has been part of the specialty food world for over 30 years, although the founders—brothers Christopher and John Pappas—have been immersed in it for far longer. Their family ran the Veterans’ Butter and Egg Company, a dairy distributor for restaurants in New York City. Growing up immersed in the food world, they found their natural footing here.
After university, Christopher was recruited to play basketball in Europe and he became inspired by the continent’s culinary splendors. With his brother’s help he turned his European culinary experience into a thriving business that today brings unique ingredients to over 20,000 high-end, independently owned restaurants, hotels and country clubs across North America. Their ingredients are vast, from teas to spices to even caviar, and they still pay homage to their roots, including dairy under their distribution umbrella.
Premiere Moisson was started up by the Colpron-Fiset family, who opened its first Premiere Moisson bakery in Vaudreui—a city nestled just west of Montreal—in 1992. In 2007, the family opened the Les Moulins de Soulanges Mill and established itself as an industry pioneer, being one of the first bakeries to use local flour without any chemical output. This bold move caught the attention of Metro, who partnered with the family to sell their “fresh bread, delicious charcuterie and exquisite pastries” throughout their grocery stores. Despite their expansion with Metro, Premiere Moisson still holds onto its roots with 24 brick-and-mortar bakeries across Montreal, Quebec City and Ontario.
Pasquale Brothers have been at the forefront of artisanal food for 100 years. Originally established for Italian immigrants to indulge in artisanal foods that reminded them of home, Pasquale Brothers quickly became a destination for Torontonians from all backgrounds to enjoy. As both a wholesale and consumer-facing supplier, Pasquale Brothers became a space where chefs would mingle with home cooks, sharing recipes and swapping kitchen stories. As they grew—through word-of-mouth alone—so did their offerings. Now you will find Italian olive oil nestled beside jambalaya sauce, but what has not changed is the brand’s spark for fine food and ability to attract food enthusiasts from all walks of life.
As the artisanal movement continues to become an integral part of the Canadian food landscape, the progression of behind-the-scenes food producers and distributors will be an interesting one to watch.
These restaurant partners and many more are part of Restaurants Canada, a national, not-for-profit association representing Canada’s diverse and dynamic restaurant and foodservice industry. You can meet them and learn more about the changing food landscape at the upcoming RC Show on Feb 25-27, 2018 at the Enercare Centre in Toronto. To learn more and to register, visit https://www.rcshow.com/.