The death of the home cook

This past Monday night, I had the opportunity to attend the Toronto Food Blogger Meetup at Edward Levesque’s Kitchen in Leslieville.

Sponsored by the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC), the menu naturally included a lot of chicken. (Yes.)

The Chicken Farmers of Canada are a lobby group whose mandate is to represent chicken trade, both inter-provincially and internationally, and particularly, to represent the interests of chicken farmers and their industry.

Kudos to them for putting together such an elegant and thoughtful event. High five to them for being so clever and getting a group of foodies and bloggers (and food bloggers) together.

They stuffed us with food and wine, but this was no mindless gathering. Theresa Albert, from Food Network Canada's Just One Bite moderated a panel of food experts as they discussed the disappearance of the home cook.

The subject of discussion came from Michael Pollan's recent article for New York Times Magazine, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, which asks why we prefer to fetishize chefs' experiences through shows like Top Chef, The Next Food Network Star, and Iron Chef rather than experience cooking ourselves. The rise of these shows has, as Pollan writes, "paradoxically, coincided with the rise of fast food, home-meal replacements and the decline and fall of everyday home cooking." Activity has become spectacle.

Pollan refers to the newer culture of Martha Stewart perfectionism as a contrast from the endearingly imperfect live television of Julia Child. He also mentions the evolution of cooking ingredients, the prevalence of shortcuts available to today's consumer. Combine these variables with women in the work force and longer work hours in general, the rise of consumer culture, and the corporate redefinition of what it means to cook.

The result is a lot less home cooking.

The panel included:
Each brought an interesting perspective on the subject matter.

Ryan and his wife have been conducting an experiment where they make everything (every bit of every meal) themselves. Anna had more of a health slant because of her nutrition background and her involvement with liver health. Amanda embodied a passion and curiosity for cooking, a play-like and excited involvement with food.

It was a great event with smart organizers, thoughtful panelists and a passionate chef: a perfect food blogger meetup. I can't wait for the next one.

The subject matter was grave, but the environment was merry. They fed us guacamole with sausage and cilantro, egg salad, rosemary frites, chicken liver terrine with onion jam, chicken satays with coconut-sesame dip, rustic chicken pizza and fried rice balls.
I soaked it all in plenty of red wine.



  1. Hi Jess - thanks for coming, and it was great to meet you, albeit briefly. Glad you had a good time, and I'm sure I'll run into you again, either at a food or PR event.

  2. Thanks for the comment, Ryan. I thought the event was really terrific and your comments on the panel were quite thought-provoking. It's always nice to meet foodie/PR people (a rare breed!) Looking forward to seeing you again soon- maybe in Ottawa next time.