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MARGARET PROUSE: The winners are…

Cookbooks cover a wide range of food with a topic for virtually every taste.
Cookbooks cover a wide range of food with a topic for virtually every taste. - 123RF Stock Photo

2018 Culinary Book Awards ‘reflect the richness of our heritage’

If you ever doubted the appeal of cookbooks, step into a bookstore and take a close look at the cookbook section.

You’ll find diminutive little gems and big flamboyant books covering various aspects of food and cooking, many of them written and published in Canada and, if you love to read about food and cookery, you may feel inspired to take a few home with you.

What’s the appeal of Canadian cook books in particular? I think that they reflect the richness of our heritage, the selection of foods grown and harvested here and the cultural diversity of Canadians better than do books written anywhere else. They tell our stories, help us to learn about cooking and also about our neighbours and our country.

Lindy Mechefske, author of “Out of Old Ontario Kitchens”, and “Sir John's Table: The Culinary Life and Times of Canada's First Prime Minister” (2016 Taste Canada Gold Award Winner for Culinary Narratives) puts it this way:

“When we write about food, we are really writing about humanity and community; about love and death and biological imperatives; and about the powerful connections and similarities between us.

“Food writing has been as undervalued as the actual work of food preparation. Taste Canada is the only body in the country recognizing the importance of the work of food writers. Food stories are after all, the real stories of our lives.”

On Tuesday, Oct. 30, writers, publishers, chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, industry, media and cookbook fans assembled for a gala evening as Taste Canada presented awards to authors of English and French cookbooks and food blogs. I’ve attended one of these galas and one of these years, I’ll find a way to get to another. They are open to the public; it’s only distance that stands in my way.

Here is a list of winners in the English language categories. You can find the names of winners in the French language categories at www.tastecanada. Canadians will look to these lists for inspiration when shopping for holiday gifts and even feel tempted to add some of the works to personal cookbook collections.

The blogs are available to anyone with an internet connection, without even leaving home.

The winners’ list includes chefs who have been in P.E.I. for Fall Flavours, television personalities, stars of the online food community, authors who have received Taste Canada awards for previous works, and some you will be hearing of for the first time.

After rising to the top in the Taste Canada competition, all of them are worth a serious look.

Culinary Narratives: This category may include books exploring culinary history, politics, social awareness, memoir or biography, all relating to food, and may include some representative recipes.

Gold: Vij, Vikram, “Vij”, Penguin Canada, Toronto

Silver: Phillips, Rod, “9000 Years of Wine”, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Markham

General Cookbooks: This category covers a general range of topics, offering a variety of options to the Canadian cook

Gold: Crawford, Lynn, “Farm to Chef”, Penguin Canada, Toronto

Silver: Wimbush-Bourque, Aimée. The Simple Bites Kitchen. Penguin Canada, Toronto

Regional/Cultural Cookbooks: These exemplify the cooking of a specific terroir or region in Canada, or the cooking of a specific ethnic group (in terms of race, nationality, or religious heritage) in Canada or around the world.

Gold: Anderson, Lindsay and Dana VanVeller, “Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip”, Appetite by Random House, Vancouver

Silver: Butters, Rod. “The Okanagan Table: The Art of Everyday Home Cooking”, Figure 1, Vancouver

Single-Subject Cookbooks: These feature a single topic in the culinary world.

Gold: Kohlman, Renée, “All the Sweet Things: Baked Goods and Stories from the Kitchen of Sweetsugarbean”, TouchWood Editions, Victoria

Silver: Gardner, Kristy, “Cooking with Cocktails”, Countryman Press, New York

Health and Special Diet Cookbooks: These are on topics related to health and/or special diets, with at least 50 per cent of the book dedicated to recipes.

Gold: Podleski, Greta, “Yum & Yummer: Ridiculously Tasty Recipes That'll Blow Your Mind, But Not Your Diet!”, Author/One Spoon Media Inc., Kitchener

Silver: Wright, Laura, “The First Mess Cookbook”, Penguin Canada, Toronto

General Food Blogs:

Gold: “Rhubarb & Cod”, Susan Keefe,

Silver: “The Lemon Apron”, Jennifer Emilson,

Health & Special Diet Blogs:

Gold: “Oh She Glows”, Angela Liddon,

Silver: “Joyous Health”, Joy McCarthy,

There you have it: the 2018 Taste Canada winners.

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at

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