Food lovers are a bit like birders – they will travel anywhere in pursuit of a new craft beer or wine, to find the perfect slice of pizza or the gooiest butter tart. They also tend to be passionate about local food and committed to supporting the growers, producers, and eateries who are doing great things when it comes to cuisine.
It’s to capture the interest of the folks who are passionate about food that the Culinary Tourism Alliance (CTA) created the Feast On® program, a certification program that recognizes restaurants committed to sourcing Ontario food and drink in their menus, and the purveyors who supply them.
“The Feast On® program is how we celebrate and recognize businesses that are truly committed to celebrating the amazing food basket we have here in Ontario,” said Nicole Brown, Marketing Director for the Culinary Tourism Alliance.
In 2019, Feast On® certified businesses spent more than $30 million with Ontario farmers, artisans, and distributors to source locally grown and made products. The amount of Ontario food on a menu at a Feast On® certified restaurant averages at more than 50 per cent, and is growing every year. Connecting chefs directly with farmers is a big part of this growth.
Naturally, the team at Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization (OHTO) was keen to partner with CTA to support the investment into marketing for Ontario’s Highlands’ food and drink focused tourism operators. As a stakeholder and partner with CTA, OHTO is able to provide support and assistance to operators as they invest in their own food and drink experiences and pursue Feast On® certification.
Through their website, ontarioculinary.com, the CTA highlights the excellent food and drink in Ontario, using their Feast On® program to really capture the interest of foodies. Of course, a focus on food doesn’t just start from the time it is plated and presented at the table, the CTA recognizes that connecting with the edible culture of a region begins with the farmer or artisan who grows or creates the products that are then enjoyed in restaurants, cafes, and specialty shops.
“When restaurants and culinary experiences work with their local farmers and producers, visitors have the pleasure of experiencing a true taste of the place they are visiting,” said Brown. “It's a connection to the land, to the culture of the region.”
Why Become Feast On® Certified
The Feast On® program offers businesses additional marketing opportunities to promote their experiences and access a wider market. CTA is there to help tell the business’ story and their journey to increasing Ontario-sourced edibles in their ingredients and on their menus.
To become certified, businesses must provide proof that 25 per cent of total annual food receipts and alcohol receipts for their business reflect Ontario grown and raised purchases. A few of the benefits of becoming Feast On® certified include:
1. Profile on the ontarioculinary.com website with a direct link to online booking.
2. Chef profile on ontarioculinary.com and feature in the Culinary Tourism newsletter.
3. The ability to use the Feast On® logo and promotional materials.
4. Certificate of designation as a Feast On® certified business.
5. Access to education and staff training.
“The advantages of becoming certified stretch beyond the feel-good benefits of connecting with local farmers and growers. Certification also comes with significant marketing exposure through our consumer channels - telling local food stories is kind of our jam,” said Nicole.
Beyond becoming a Feast On® certified destination, businesses can also engage with the Culinary Tourism Alliance through social media on their consumer channels @OntarioCulinary, or their industry channels, @CulinaryTourismAlliance.
Join the Club
Become Feast On® certified and you will be in good company with other Ontario's Highlands' food and drink operators who have seen the benefits of committing to supporting local growers.
Current Ontario's Highlands' Feast On® certified businesses include:
Ready to get started or looking for more information? Businesses interested in learning more about the program or becoming certified can read more on our website, or reach out to Astrid Di Paolo, Programs Manager at the Culinary Tourism Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org.