Chef Austin Clement, chair of the P.E.I. Culinary Alliance, chats with John Catucci of the Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here!" shortly before the Le Festin Acadien Avec Homard in Abram-Village Friday night. The event was a preview of the month-long Fall Flavours festival. Guardian photo
The combination of Prince Edward Island's talented chefs and local produce results in tastes and flavours unsurpassed anywhere else on the planet, says the chairman of the P.E.I. Culinary Alliance.
Which makes it no surprise this year's Fall Flavours Festival, a month-long celebration of Island produce and chefs, is expected to be the biggest one yet.
"People looking for tickets should look quickly," said chef Austin Clement, who is also program manager of Holland College Culinary Institute of Canada, and noted that some of the key events such as the Feast and Frolic have already sold out. "It (Fall Flavours) is a phenomenon and has really taken off this year."
The festival will see three major new events this year and eight food Network Canada celebrities in the province.
While the festival officially begins with the P.E.I. International Beer Festival on Sept. 6, an early preview was held Friday night (Aug. 30) during Acadian Feast Le Festin Acadien Avec Homard Abram-Village.
The feast saw Food Network personality John Catucci of "You Gotta Eat Here!" as the host.
"I'm going to be made an honorary Acadian," said Catucci with a laugh during an interview with The Guardian. "They'll be making me do a few things, teaching me a few words and sayings and eating all the right food.
"I'm there to enjoy it and just soak in all of the Acadian culture."
Cattuci, who has previously filmed episodes in P.E.I., said he loves the food scene in the province.
"I love coming. I live in Toronto so all our seafood is getting flown in," he said. "It's amazing to be where your lobsters and mussels have been taken out of the water an hour before eating them.
"That freshness and attention to local product, I think that's pretty awesome."
New events this year include A Taste of the North Shore on Sept. 21 in New London,
Toe Taps & Taters on Sept. 27 in O'Leary, and the Mussel Muncheon on Sept. 29 in Charlottetown.
Cattuci said he has noticed the growing trend of eating local, which Fall Flavours is a testament to.
"People want to take part in it and feel connected to their community and connected to the food that's close to them and the people who are producing it," he said.
"From a chef's perspective, we've always been 'localvores'," he said. "But I think over the last 10 years or so our food culture (on P.E.I.) has really come to life."
Clement pointed to some events as having brought a lot of attention to P.E.I.'s food scene in the past five to six years.
That includes the Regis and Kelly broadcast three years ago, which saw a lot of focus on local foods, as well as the Food Networks chefs and personalities who attend events like Fall Flavours.
"We're getting more visible outside of our regional boundaries and becoming more of a national destination," said Clement. "It (P.E.I.) has always been a great food destination but now it's about promoting it and people being aware of it.
"These Food Network chefs and the followers they have are now followers of Prince Edward Island."
Tourism minister Robert Henderson said the festival continues to grow and shine a light on Island food.
"The Island's culinary scene has become a pillar of the Island's tourism product over the last number of years and Fall Flavours is a big reason why," said Henderson. "It is one of the best events for foodies anywhere in the country and we are proud to be a major sponsor."
With well over 30 events held in venues across P.E.I., the festival wraps up on Sept. 29 with the Fortune Feast.
A complete schedule and more information on events can be found by visiting www.fallflavours.ca or calling 1-866-960-9912.