I am delighted to report that my friend Anita Stewart was awarded the Order of Canada on New Year’s Day, honoured “for her contributions as a journalist, author and culinary activist and for her promotion of the food industry in Canada.” Anita is an inspiration to our broad industry, one of very few people who understands the big picture of Canadian food and also its smallest local nuances. She is the founder of Food Day (http://foodday.ca), broadcasts regularly on CBC Radio (cbc.ca/freshair) and for nearly three decades has chronicled the food life of Canada. As an author she has published 14 books, including Anita Stewart’s CANADA: The Food, The Recipes, The Stories, that recently hit the Globe and Mail’s Bestseller list. She is on the Advisory Council for the Governor General’s Award in Celebration of the Nation’s Table and is an honourary lifetime member of the Canadian Culinary Federation of Chefs and Cooks (CCFCC). I’m also very happy that she is one of the Toronto panel of judges for Gold Medal Plates.
Once upon a time she and Jamie Kennedy (also an OC) and I planned to create a tv show. We wanted to call it Free Radicals and proposed that the three of us should criss-cross Canada with Anita leading us to fabulous indigenous foods, Jamie cooking them and me commenting about the process. I thought it was a great idea but the networks found the whole thing too cerebral. No competitive back-biting or kitchen shenanigans, no manufactured melodrama or gratuitous cussing… Plus, it must be said, our travel budget would have been astronomical. Still, I think the show would have worked. Maybe next time.
The Order of Canada has a motto that suits Anita rather well: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM… “They desire a better country.” It is our good fortune as Canadians and food lovers that Anita has always been prepared to act on that desire, fearlessly in person and so elegantly in prose.