The Niagara Food Festival brings out the very best of Niagara cuisine with the opportunity to indulge with notable foodies hailing from establishments throughout the region. Niagara College was present and showcasing the young talent cutting teeth in the Canadian Food and Wine Institute kitchens and putting their chef professors on the stage to perform cooking demonstrations for the eager eating crowd.
The highlight of the weekend was the inclusion of celebrity chef, Chuck Hughes. Making his name in the culinary world with two successful establishments in Montreal, Hughes is also known for his Food Network shows Chuck’s Day Off and Chuck’s Week Off. He was present to announce the winners of the apple pie and cupcake cook-off competitions, and also to dazzle with his kitchen wizardry and sharp wit.
Tales of Kitchen Stadium, the arena in which Food Network series Iron Chef is filmed, were shared with the audience. The series pits top celebrity chefs against those who are not of celebrity status but are brave and eager for the challenge. This is of particular interest when discussing Hughes as he is amongst the few to defeat the Kitchen Stadium regulars – even Chef Bobby Flay. The realities of working on a cooking show were also detailed as Hughes discussed the number of carrots chopped to perform the shortest segment of a thirty-minute television show (it wasn’t just a few.) All was done with great humour and lots of interaction with the crowd.
Beyond the banter and antics, Hughes did get serious for a moment and divulged his appreciation for having achieved each step on the ladder of success in the culinary world, telling the crowd that the hardest working guys are the ones you never hear about. This was a message that resounded with the crowd as cheers erupted and Hughes seemed pleased to be amongst a few of the guys to whom he was paying tribute.
Despite the rainy weather on Saturday, the Niagara Food Festival was alive with epicurean enthusiasm for our region. A success all around, it appeared that bellies were full and sensibilities were satisfied by the gastronomy at this year’s affairs!