Reasons why you should eat across Canada

There's a lot to Canadian food and here are the reasons to be diving into dishes from coast to coast

Anna Olson, Derek Dammann, Murray MacDonald, David McMillan and Sarah Musgrave tell Eat North why they love Canadian food

Aside from the obvious reason of seeking good food, here are some of the reasons for exploring tastes across the country.

Chuck Hughes, chef, TV host

What I love right now about the Canadian food scene is the amazing shellfish and seafood our country has to offer: sea urchins from B.C., oysters from P.E.I., crab from eastern Quebec and clams and lobster from New Brunswick. Those are all my favourite foods! I am certain that we have best shellfish in the world and I would stand by that statement any day. 

Anna Olson, pastry chef, TV host

I love the regionality of Canadian cuisine that is evolving so naturally here in Canada. Embracing local and seasonal ingredients has superseded trend status; it is a way of cooking and eating here, and so with that comes a sense of place on our plates, from coast to coast to coast. 

Lesley Chesterman, restaurant critic, Montreal Gazette

In Canada today, you can eat brilliantly from the heart of St. John’s Newfoundland to the tip of Tofino, and most everywhere in between. And the quality of cooking coupled with the incredible array of local ingredients are mind boggling. No doubt, we’re coming into the golden age of Canadian cuisine. 

Derek Dammann, chef, Maison Publique

Canada is vastly multicultural and diverse from coast to coast. From a cooking perspective, it is very exciting to be able to draw so much inspiration from this. We are fortunate to have so many creative chefs pushing the boundaries to discover new tastes and ingredients indigenous to Canadian soil. 

photo courtesy of Eva Blue.

David McMillan, co-owner, Joe Beef

All of the best of cooking comes from pristine, cold climate dwellers and Canada is a prime example of that. We have incredible food and drink from the Pacific to the Atlantic; Canadian products never cease to amaze and are the envy of our neighbours to the south and across both oceans.

Danielle Bennett, TV Host & BBQ Pro best selling author, Diva Q's Barbecue

Oh Canada. It doesn't matter where you go in Canada to eat, everyone embraces the diverse cultural food landscape. From coast to coast, the varieties and nationalities of food are endless and beloved by all.

Patrice Demers, Patrice Patissier

What's great about Canada is that the weather and climate are so different from one coast to another and how the seasons are so important. Every season brings us new products and forces us to be creative and to find a way to work with those great ingredients.

Sarah Ward, principal of Sarah Ward Interiors

Canada doesn't really have an identifiable cuisine, but that comes from the fact that our food scene is so incredibly diverse. The vast expanse of our nation means local ingredients can be from the Pacific or Atlantic coasts, the Arctic tundra, our great plains and the abundance of the Canadian shield. Combine those sources with the rich diversity of the people that call Canada home, and I think you get some of the most exciting food that the world has to offer. 

Lisa Haley, wine director, L’Abattoir

The Canadian food scene can only be defined by its variety: from the bounty of each distinct season, the unique regional characteristics of the East and West coasts and the Prairies in between, all combined with the multitude of cultures that come together to influence the vast culinary landscape. 

Sarah Musgrave, freelance writer and contributing editor, enRoute

I love that we don’t have to pimp ourselves as international or cosmopolitan, we just are all the things: a landscape of forests, farms, oceans, lakes and ice topped with dosas, shakshouka, banh xeo, grand aioli, n’juda, k’aaw, hard cider and some fine wine.

Michael Olson, chef instructor at the Niagara Culinary Institute

Canada has great farmers, producers, chefs and raw ingredients, but the best part of the recipe is the modesty and enthusiasm of Canucks from coast to coast to coast. We simply love good food!

Jason Bangerter, executive chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa

The terroir. The diversity within the regions. This dictates the "cuisine" or "food scene", in my opinion. In Canada, the terroir is so different from region to region and coast to coast--this is what I love! I love that around every corner or off every shore, there is something new and exciting to taste and discover. Happy birthday, Canada! 

Robin Wasicuna, chef and owner of Twin Pine Diner

Our country is vast. I love that things like cranberry and juniper are available in every province, but the one thing I really appreciate is the smallness of the chefs' community. The advances in social media have allowed our community to shrink but continuously grow at the same time. Fifteen years ago, you didn't know there was a chef killing it New Brunswick or the Northwest Territories unless it was through word of mouth. But television, social media and the public acceptance of it all has made us all aware of the coast to coast to coast situation and, in many cases, friendships have been formed! Our community has never been stronger or well represented!! 

Anthony Rose, Rose & Sons

Over the past five years, I have been doing a lot more fishing and camping in Northern Ontario. One of my favorite dishes to cook and a very old Canadian Tradition is the Shore Lunch. Just-caught fried fish with a can of beans sizzling in the embers and potato hash cooked with the bacon fat is my kind of heaven, man. All that with tartar sauce, coleslaw, cocktail sauce and pickles and white bread on the side is the greatest meal of my life. End it all with a huge plate of butter tarts and Nanaimo Bars, and I am the most Canadian guy you know. This is true north Canadian cooking to me and I will never cook in anything but my Canadian tuxedo! 

Marco Piccoli, winemaker, Jackson-Triggs

One of the most amazing aspects of Canadian food is its diversity. From coast to coast, the diversity in seafood, wild game and cheese is very unique and exciting. One of my favourite is definitely Malpeque oysters with a glass of Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve sauvignon blanc.

Michael Noble, owner NOtaBLE and Nash

For such a large and diverse country, I’m always impressed by the connection that is held between chefs from coast to coast. We have overcome the distance by spending time in each other’s back yards, learning from each other’s regionality and style, and I believe that generally, there is a big acceptance and respect for each other. I’m intrigued by such places as Newfoundland (which I’ve yet to visit), have loved hanging out on the leases of The Oyster Man Brent Petkau on Cortes Island, B.C. and Johnny Flynn in Colville Bay, P.E.I. and connecting to their passion for what they do. I really love Canada’s West Coast and all the amazing gems from the ocean, and will always remember fishing with chef Nick Nutting one morning out of Tofino then preparing the halibut, rockfish and ling cod that we caught that very night!

photo courtesy of Peter Prato.

Andrew Braithwaite, national restaurant critic for enRoute's Canada's Best New Restaurants

Our scene is so broad and geographically diverse that you can skip clear across the country, like I do each summer for enRoute, and find different little microclimates of trends and movements all over. What's hot and on the tips of tongues in Vancouver is totally different than what they're jamming on right now in Halifax, and ours is still a big enough home and native land that every local scene can carve out its own little pocket and thrill me in a way I haven't yet come across in my travels. 

Karlynn Johnston, cookbook author

I love that the Canadian Prairies stand out for our own unique food scene within Canada's diverse one. Perogies are featured on many an upscale restaurant menu, Flapper Pie is a dessert that only we prairie folk seem to know about, the Prairie-grown Saskatoon berry is revered by chefs and home cooks alike--and rarely featured outside of the prairie provinces--and whether you like it or not, ginger beef was invented here! 

Allyson Reigh, Alexis Normand and Farideh Olsen a.k.a. Rosie And The Riveters, musicians

We perform all over Canada and the one thing that we love about the Canadian food scene is the use of local and in-season ingredients. We do our best to cook for ourselves and limit our carbon footprint, so when we’re on the road and don’t have access to a kitchen, we try to find restaurants that support local farms and use in-season produce that grows in the region. It feels good to know we're supporting local businesses and limiting our ecological impact where we can! 

Murray McDonald, executive chef Cluny Bistro

What I love about the Canadian food scene is the growing diversity from coast to coast. Each coast and in-between is different--landscape, food, culture--but in the end, there is a unique feeling all across Canada that is uniquely Canadian that ties it all together and it shows up in the food. Growing up in the East Coast the caring hands of my grandmothers is what I remember the most about Newfoundland cuisine, the love they put into every meal, and I take that love of food all the way from Fogo to Toronto.

Ellen Pruden, Manitoba Canola Growers

The connections and community that is created from our Canadian food scene is what I love.  From our farmers who grow and raise our ingredients, to the chefs and home cooks who create delicious meals and the authors who share it from coast to coast to coast. It's an incredible network of passionate people.

Sara Samson, editor and writer

I’ve seen a lot of Canada and I like how unique each region’s food scene is, from the family-run restaurants of rural Newfoundland to the wineries of southern Ontario. But I think there’s also something fundamentally Canadian about it all; no matter the region, big or small, every community, town and city has its own thing going on. 

Joelle Tomlinson, Global News Saskatoon anchor

The intense attraction to sustainable, local ingredients in Canadian dishes is what I love about the Canadian food scene right now. Each city has its own unique flair. Where I'm from (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), the city boasts Saskatoon berry-infused dishes, locally-grown hydroponic lettuce and all-natural meats provided by fourth generation farmers (which are then developed into tasty dishes in staple restaurants). It's a perfect way to infuse yourself into the regional culture of wherever you are! 

Breanna Mroczek, Avenue Edmonton editor

I love that Canadian cities are food tourism destinations. I love eating out when I travel, and no matter where I travel in Canada, I have a long list of places I want to check out, and always encounter some amazing finds, from coffee shops to fine dining. When I have friends visit me in Edmonton or Calgary, I make food a focal point of their visit and take them to eat as many places as possible. They're always pleasantly surprised and leave thinking about a particular dish they enjoyed. 

Diana Ng, co-founder, Eat North

Just in case you've forgotten how far and wide Canada is (without looking at a map), you can just look at the selection of ingredients available to us, especially when it comes to seafood. The fact that we have such a wide selection of something as simple as oysters is a foodie's dream come true. In addition to that, the history of the flow of people to the different parts of Canada is really fascinating, and has really put a stamp on the different regional cuisines.