Here we will profile people in this province who have helped to shape the way we eat, cook and think about food.
Rebecca LeHeup-Bucknell, connector
Rebecca is the Executive Director for Ontario Culinary Tourism, in this role she is responsible for building relationships with farmers, communities, chefs, brewers, vintners, bakers and fishers all over the province. From a cranberry bog in Ottawa to a rustic lodge in Elmhirst – Rebecca connects media, chefs and producers with Ontario’s food sources.
Where did you start out in the food world?
My career with food began as a bus girl out west â€“ in Kelowna. I moved on to be a server and then a bartender in Prince Edward County (at the Waring House Barley Room Pub), then went on to do licensee and LCBO deliveries for Grant Howes at the County Cider Company. We (Grant and I) ended up going into business and restored a 1860â€™s pig barn into a tasting room and retail store. I owned and operated the retail space that featured artisanal Canadian foods and unique giftware.
What changes have you seen over the years in how the people you meet feel about local farmers and food?
In my work with Taste the County in PEC from 1998 to 2008 I saw a remarkable shift in peopleâ€™s interest in farming. I have seen an increase in small scale farmers that are growing heirloom varieties, growing biodynamically or organically and raising rare breed animals. I have witnessed a new wave, a sense of pride for our agricultural community, a desire for people to be more connected to the land. Now I realize this wave was not spreading just over my home County of PEC but across the province â€“ itâ€™s wonderful and makes me very emotional.
What is your favourite vegetable?
I love asparagus but will only eat it when itâ€™s in season (and then I eat it almost daily!). Then the first spring greens and sweet peas follow and it really seems like there could be nothing better but WHAM! corn, tomatoes, carrots and other the other seasonal goodies come on. I guess what Iâ€™m trying to say is my favourite veggie shifts with the season. Iâ€™m really digging beets and roasted root vegetables right now.
The pig. I love pork. What more can I say?
The fall is my favourite season â€“ it always has been (I was born in the fall). I love the harvest season, the colours, the crisp fresh air. I will say though that I will always enjoy the fact that we have four seasons in Canada (even if I donâ€™t like being cold!). Change is good. It makes us appreciate what has been before and what we have to look forward to come.
Where are some of your favourite places in Ontario for food/drink?
I am constantly falling further in love with Ontario. It is a diverse and interesting place to live. I do my best to NOT frequent the same places over and over again because there is so much to explore. Of course, I have a very soft spot for PEC because I have spent most of my life connected to it. Some favourites of mine include:
Bar â€“ The Drake (T.O.) and Down the Street (Stratford)
Restaurant â€“ Amuse Bouche (T.O.) Â and Harvest (PEC)
Family dining â€“ Buddha Dog (T.O., PEC & Collingwood)
Coffee â€“ Ms. Lilyâ€™s Cafe (PEC) and the Dark Horse (Spadina location in T.O.)
Farmerâ€™s Market â€“ Stratford (during Savour Stratford)
Picnic Spot â€“ Sandbanks Provincial Park (PEC)
Farm gate â€“ The Good Sheppard (Niagara) & Vickiâ€™s Veggies (PEC)
Cheese Dairy â€“ Fifth Town Artisan Cheese (PEC)
Brewery â€“ Â Beauâ€™s (Ottawa)
Winery â€“ Norman Hardie and Sandbanks Estate Winery (PEC) and Stratus and Southbrook (Niagara)
Ice Cream â€“ Mapletonâ€™s Organic Dairy (Elora & Fergus)