© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Sampling sandwiches are from left, Emily McKeown, chef and co-owner of FiveElevenWest restaurant in Credit Union Place in Summerside; Paul Larsen, director and chairman of the P.E.I. Hog Commodity Marketing Board; Agriculture Minister George Webster and Ambyr Macdonald, owner of Red's Corner Restaurant in Pooles Corner.
Paul Larsen is hoping Porktoberfest does for the Prince Edward Island hog industry what Burger Love did for Island beef.
The director and chairman of the P.E.I. Hog Commodity Board said it's great news to hear that 32 restaurants, from Mill River to Georgetown, will participate in P.E.I. Porktoberfest this month.
Those 32 restaurants will be serving gourmet pulled pork from P.E.I. as the main ingredient in a wide variety of sandwiches. Each chef will try to come up with the one sandwich that will crown them Best P.E.I. Porktoberfest Chef.
Larsen says it gives Island pork producers another market.
"With this campaign all the pork is guaranteed to be P.E.I. pork so that's nice,'' Larsen said. "It will be good to move more of it locally. The vast majority (of P.E.I.) pork will still be going out of province but . . . every hog that can stay here and be utilized on the Island is a plus for everybody.''
After a successful pilot campaign last year, P.E.I. hog producers, the Department of Agriculture, P.E.I. Flavours, P.E.I. Restaurant Association, Hometown Pork and Fresh Media have geared up for an even bigger culinary campaign.
Last year, P.E.I. Porktoberfest launched with the sausage as being the featured pork dish at 15 participating restaurants, which sold more than 2,800 sausages during the month. This year, it's gourmet pulled pork.
Pork certainly hasn't traditionally been a common item found on restaurant menus on P.E.I. The hog industry is hoping that will change.
"I can see it staying (on menus), especially if it does well and people enjoy it and are asking for it. with a lot of restaurants, pork is not a part of menus so it's nice to see it makes its way into the restaurants,'' Larsen said.
The hog commodity marketing board is putting its entire promotional budget into this campaign.
"This was a no-brainer. We can't think of any other way to do it this effectively. It's just one month but it's super charged and it gives a lot of power to those dollars that we're able to put in there.''
To view the full list of Porktoberfest creations and the restaurants participating in the campaign, go to www.peiporktoberfest.ca. The campaign runs until Oct. 31.