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A high-end food lab that just opened at the University of Guelph carries on the legacy of a champion of Canadian cuisine.
The Anita Stewart Memorial Food Laboratory, which officially opened Oct. 7, is named for the late Anita Stewart, U of G’s former food laureate and founder of Food Day Canada.
“Anita was a huge champion of Canadian food as an author, food historian and culinary activist,” said Rebecca Gordon, a master’s student in the School of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management and part-time coordinator of the lab.
“The new food lab will help carry on her legacy and contributions and continue to celebrate all things to do with food in Canada.”
Renovation of the existing food lab in the Macdonald Institute was completed in early September. The project was enabled through a $1.33-million donation in 2019 from Michel Eric Fournelle, a 1992 graduate of the hotel and food administration program, now hospitality and tourism management. Whirlpool Canada donated top-of-the-line equipment to the lab.
About 20 students at a time can use the facility to learn innovative practices in food preparation, production and safety as well as food systems and science. Most are studying hospitality management or applied human nutrition and plan to pursue varied careers in food service, restaurants and a growing number of occupations in the food sector.
Elijah Jimenez, a fourth-year hospitality student, is using the lab weekly during his Understanding Foods course to prepare various recipes. He said the lab’s media setup, including three large AV screens, have been a boon for meeting physical distancing requirements this fall.
The facility’s state-of-the-art broadcasting and live-streaming equipment is intended to allow lab instructors to take their food demonstrations and lessons to global audiences.
“With COVID, it’s been easy for the prof to lecture and show recipes without all of us having to come close,” Jimenez said.
Gordon said the school plans to bring in researchers for food issue discussions to be aired publicly. The lab will also host a cooking demonstration as part of the annual Arrell Food Summit held by U of G’s Arrell Food Institute.
“It’s very rare for a university to have a high-end culinary food lab, especially one that’s able to share and broadcast its classes,” Gordon said.
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