The summer of 2003 was a hard one and at the height of the BSE crisis, entire communities were being devastated. Many Canadians felt helpless. So we had a party and whether it made the Guinness World Book or not (I didn’t have time to even apply), it encircled the planet with good culinary vibes and some amazing food.
The goal was for everyone to grill Canadian beef at 6 p.m on the Saturday of the August long weekend, no matter what time zone we were in. On August 3, 2003, while most of Canada was asleep, the barbecue began at the Embassy in Beijing and spiraled around the world to finally end in Victoria, British Columbia, many hours and many time zones later.
I was on PEI with then-Premier Pat Binns.
People sent emails telling about their events and, at one point, nearly crashed my University of Guelph email account. Thankfully a computer technician there, who is also the son of beef farmers, monitored the flood of letters. In my books, he was a hero and athough the internet was still in its infancy, it worked. And although it’s hard to determine the impact on the actual consumption of beef, many farmers realized that they were not alone and that, from all around the world, Canadian consumers cared.
Before this year’s event on Saturday, July 30th, I thought it would be fun to post a few of the stories from the idea that started it all. You may even recognize some names.
Michael Smith, a.k.a. “The Inn Chef” and “Chef at Large”, writes: “Count me in! I will be in Fortune, P.E.I., at our new summer house, just a short 3 minute walk down the road from the Inn at Bay Fortune. I’ve already built my outdoor fire pit and will be grilling porterhouse steaks – my favorite – over live wood (Is there any other way?).” Update – Chef Smith will be back at the Inn at Bay Fortune with Executive Chef Gordon Bailey…this is great news for the lucky people of eastern P.E.I.
Mark Mitchell, Ex-Torontonian/Entrepreneur now in Vancouver has had him menu planned for several weeks : “…likely teriyaki beef with baked potatoes sparked with roasted garlic and mint, a large salad of some sort and local blueberries…and of course, my home brew.”
Senator Donald Oliver of Nova Scotia is on board. As Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry which produced a report Canadian Farmers at Risk, he is following through. “I am having an event at the farm and so are many other Senators who are members of the Agriculture committee.”
Klaus Tribes, VP Okanagan Branch of the BC Restaurant and Food Association and owner of KT’s Family Restaurant is “planning on closing off Vernon’s main street on August 2 and having 200- 300 folks attend a Country Hoedown and Barbecue. They’ll be eating Canadian New York steaks, salad and bun for $10. There will be entertainment – will be a blast!”
Doug Powell, creator of the University of Guelph’s highly successful FSNET and AGNET, is having one of the most creative events, complete with a webcam in his back yard. To watch Doug’s party, complete with beef, beer, students and some very distinguished guests, log on to www.foodsafetynetwork.ca/beef The party begins at 6 p.m. – Ontario time.
Marlane Oliver, 680 News / Toronto, will be having a family barbecue. “My husband is Italian so usually we served sausage to 60 of his closest cousins, but this year we decided to buy a huge roast of beef and do that instead at our cottage at Wasaga Beach (on Georgian Bay).”
Manitoba Canola Growers “is joining the fun….Each of the directors and staff will be hosting their own BBQ in their town, at the cottage or at the lake to celebrate.”
Lane Nordell is having a “family reunion (35 family members who live in Western Alberta) beside the McLeod River in western Canada about 80 km east of Edson at a campsite BBQ-ing Canadian beef in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations. We are spending the weekend the weekend with 35 or so relatives who live in Western Alberta, playing ball, swimming, talking (we are known for this) and collectively consuming cows. Have a great time yourself and to all the other people who are fortunate enough to live and breath in Canada…HAVE A GREAT BEEF DAY!”
Murray and Brenda Calder, poultry growers and deeply-involved agriculturalists, from Holstein, Ontario are “Having a street party at Sauble Beach. It is a potluck and we will be going with Canadian flags and Canadian beef in hand. I will likely marinate a pot roast in beer with herbs and spices.” Murray is also the Member of Parliament for Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister for International Trade.
Hazel Cail, Manager, Intergovernmental Relations, Alberta Economic Development in Edmonton will be with us all. “My sister and her husband from Ottawa will be on my deck in Camrose (about 8 people) and will be barbecuing Alberta rib-eyes.”
Jo Marie and Tom Powers, from Guelph and the Moon River Basin, are in the midst of a hectic grandkid-filled summer have decided to go out to a barbecue restaurant on their back to their cottage. They have already had a pre-bbq barbecue on July 19 with their entire, very large family.
Lynda & George McGowan; Kay & Jim Fettes, my fabulous in-laws are partying at their waterfront home near Owen Sound before embarking on cruising trip of Lake Huron on their 35 foot yacht, ForePlay. They’re getting their beef from Meat the Butcher and likely drinking far too much great red wine (I know this crew well – for over 30 years!)
Wendy Finan, another serious activist writes: “ I will be at the Maxville Highland Games but will ask every hamburger vendor whether they are using Canadian beef and make an issue of it. Thank you for your support of our beef industry in this very difficult time.”
Paula Werk of Kanata wrote, almost apologetically that she would “be only a party of one but I do want you to know that in spite of my vegetarian leanings, I will be barbecuing an all beef hamburger on August 2.” I assured her that a party of one was just magnificent. And it is!
Eric Peterson, who for decades manned the Saturday night grill at April Point Lodge on Quadra Island, British Columbia writes (and makes my mouth water): “We are going to poach some oysters in white wine and butter…just to get things started and then we are barbecuing strip loins stuffed with blue cheese and minced garlic. Preference is rare to medium-rare. Slit a pocket in the side of the strip and stuff the ingredients and secure with toothpicks. HAPPY BARBECUE BEEF DAY CANADA! “
Helen Hatton, food and travel journalist from Toronto, was ecstatic…”Perfect timing! Our kitchen reno starts on July 30…and while our tiny gas barbecue is pretty pathetic, we’ll do something tasty on it…with Canadian beef.” Another food writer, Pamela Steele writes: “Will be barbequing at 6 on the second – in fact, I’ll have a little party – Muskoka style.”
Susan Evans of the Beef Information Centre’s Vancouver office will be in Vernon…”over-looking beautiful Kalamalka Lake, having a party…lots of kids, swimming and sunning and wonderful Canadian beef….a bbq roast on the rotisserie and burgers for the kids.”
Chef Michael Noble (who now owns Notable Restaurant) and his team are going “to smoke up Calgary’s downtown Stephen Avenue with prime cuts of beef grilled on a barbeque in front of Catch Restaurant. Served up just like on the patio at home with traditional fixings. It will be the place to be on Saturday night. At Catch we always use the best beef we can: Sterling Silver (taking up the top 6% of the prime AAA beef classification) This beef is always tender, well marbled and seasoned with Catch’s own blend of special seasoning”.
From Bermuda, Executive Chef (and passionate Canadian foodie) David Garcelon writes that he “happened to be in Amarillo, Texas last week as a guest of the Texas Beef Producers and they absolutely support the Canadian ranchers…On August 2 I will be in New Brunswick, too and will definitely add some beef to what was to be an all seafood dinner.” David can now be found at the Royal York Hotel.
Rick and Deb Caruso, B&B owners who also hail from Picton, Prince Edward County, are in sync with this initiative and they personally will be dining on “marinated steak with caramelized onions with a bottle of good local red wine from one of our many fine wineries. Any day is a good day for beef and a bottle of red wine!!!!”
C J Katz, Saskatchewan-based food writer that she’s having “burgers with thick slices of white onion, wasabi mayo, roasted red peppers and a great glass of red wine.”
Judie Steeves, Kelowna-based Food Writer has “just written my weekend food column on your barbecue with a couple of recipes including your kebab one, which I rushed out to buy some beef for…Whew! It was good! My BBQ will be held overlooking Lake Okanagan and the City of Kelowna, Big White Mountain and the Okanagan floating bridge, surrounded by tall pines and firs on my very own deck” For her recipes log on to www.kelownacapnews.com on July 28.
Gillian Marx, Market Development Officer, Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador writes “Hats off to you. We will BBQ in Traytown, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland & Labrador. Myself and my Ya-Ya sisterhood and respective families…I’ll be sure to bring my Canada flag.”
Randy MacEachern from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia…”As far as opening a frosty beverage and BBQ’ing Canadian beef (nothing news) – it will just seem like another beautiful summer Saturday here in N.S.”
Jeff Gunn, Stonehame Lodge & Chalets, Scotsburn, N.S. Jeff is a tourism operator and a farmer and president of the local Federation of Agriculture. He writes: “ I have contacted our local Federation of Agriculture, tourist association, Chamber of Commerce and other businesses and we are looking to coordinate a large barbecue to be held in conjunction with New Glasgow’s Riverfront Jubilee which attracts thousands of people. We are planning to hold it from 6 – 8 p.m. on August 2 and hope to have literature to hand out describing the safety of Canadian beef industry here in Canada. ….it may quickly become a provincial effort.” UPDATE!!!! Both Sobey’s and Scotsburn Dairy have come on line as major sponsors. They are donating all the meat and beverages.
Cheryl Pidgeon writes: “We’ll be in Waterloo right in our own neighbourhood sending up smoke signals! Our Canadian flag is flying out front already – it’s there year round. Growing up as a butcher’s daughter, you can bet we’ll be doing up some giant steaks and sipping some cold ones right by the with a few friends.”
Margo Embury, Publishing Director, Centax Books, Regina, Sask., writes: “I’ll have an extended-family backyard barbeque with children, grandchildren and friends on August 2 in Regina. We’ll raise a glass of beer to you.”
Connie Trotter in Seaforth, Ontario is “having a family reunion near South River. There will be approximately 70 people there with the main course being a huge barbecued roast beef!!!!! We wouldn’t think of cooking anything else but great Canadian beef.
Pages and pages follow, from 2004 till 2010 and now 2011!