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MARGARET PROUSE: Winners of this year’s Taste Canada Awards make great choices for gifts

Cookbooks are wonderful gifts for people who love cooking and people who love to read about cooking. SUBMITTED PHOTO
SUBMITTED PHOTOCookbooks are wonderful gifts for people who love cooking and people who love to read about cooking. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Cookbooks are wonderful gifts for people who love cooking and people who love to read about cooking.

Not everyone who likes cookbooks likes to cook. Many people love to pore through a good cookbook as much as they enjoy reading a novel, even though cooking isn’t one of their favourite activities.

I’ll be reviewing a number of new cookbooks in the weeks to come, but today’s column is about the awards that celebrate culinary writing in Canada. The Taste Canada Awards, established by Jo Marie Powers 20 years ago as the Canadian Culinary Books Awards, recognize books in a number of categories in both English and French every year, and now include blogs as well. The awards were presented on Oct. 30 at a gala celebration in Toronto.

If you’re thinking of giving cookbooks this Christmas, some of the Taste Canada winners could be good choices, and don’t be surprised if some of the titles make it to your own wish list, too. I’m also including notes about the top blogs, as food lovers will enjoy reading culinary writing on this platform as well.

This was a good year for people who love baking or those – myself included – wishing to develop a little more baking finesse. Both the Gold and Silver books in the Single-Subject Cookbooks Category, Daphna Rabinovitch’s “The Baker in Me” (Whitecap Books, Vancouver, 2016) and Anna Olson’s “Bake with Anna Olson: More than 125 Simple, Scrumptious and Sensational Recipes to Make You a Better Baker” (Appetite by Random House, Vancouver, 2016), are baking books. Not only that, but the blog that received the Silver award in the Food Blogs: General category, Kitchen Heals Soul,, is what the author, chemist Janice Lawandi, calls a “nerdy baking blog”.  

For travellers and people who love to learn about the food of various cultures, the Regional/Cultural Cookbooks are good choices. Veteran cultural cookbook author Naomi Duguid’s “Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan” (ARTISAN {Thomas Allen & Son}, Markham, 2016) received Gold in the category, and Pailin Chongchitnant was awarded Silver for “Hot Thai Kitchen: Demystifying Thai Cuisine with Authentic Recipes to Make at Home” (Appetite by Random House, Vancouver, 2016).

To learn more about food culture within Canada, the Gold winner in the Culinary Narratives category might fit the bill. In her “Food Artisans of the Okanagan”, (TouchWood Editions, Victoria, 2016) Jennifer Cockrall-King takes readers on a tour to introduce creators of artisanal food in BC’s fertile Okanagan Valley.

Bringing food production even closer to home, television personality Frankie Flowers (Frank Ferragine) and Shannon J. Ross received the Culinary Narratives Silver award for a book on food gardening, “Food to Grow: A Simple, No-Fail Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs” (HarperCollins, Toronto, 2016).


To learn about a wide variety of food ingredients (home grown or otherwise), their characteristics, and how to prepare them, a food-lover can find a wealth of well-presented information on Sean Bromilow’s “Diversivore” blog,, winner of the Gold award in the Food Blogs: General category.

Chefs inspire home cooks and share their recipes in the books that won Gold and Silver in the General Cookbooks category this year. Gold went to James Walt’s “Araxi: Roots to Shoots, Farm-Fresh Recipes.” (Figure 1, Vancouver, 2016), Silver to Jim Sutherland for “Earls the Cookbook: Eat a Little, Eat a Lot. 110 of Your Favourite Recipes” (Appetite by Random House, Vancouver, 2016).

Taste Canada recognizes the role that home cooking can play in healthy eating by offering awards in the Health and Special Diet Cookbooks category. This year’s Gold winner was Angela Liddon for “Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-Based Recipes” (Penguin Canada, Toronto 2016), and Liddon also received the Gold award in the Food Blogs: Health and Special Diets category for her “Oh She Glows” blog, Winning Silver for Health and Special Diet Cookbooks were Nettie Cronish and Cara Rosenbloom for “Nourish: Whole Food Recipes” (Whitecap Books, Vancouver, 2016).

Vegetarian and vegan cooks and those interested in learning more about living without animal products, will be interested in Nicole Axworthy’s “A Dash of Compassion”,, winner of Silver in Food Blogs: Health and Special Diet. 

Take your cue from Taste Canada, and celebrate Canadian culinary writing this year.


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 [email protected].


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