PEI's Fall Flavours Festival Fails On Multiculturalism and Youth Participation
PEI's Fall Flavours Festival is a great concept and would be a fabulous opportunity to showcase cultural diversity along with new culinary trends like "street food", healthy dining alternatives and allergy sensitivity which is part of a youthful face to restaurants scenes right across Canada. These include the growing diversity and youthful energy of Charlottetown's own restaurant scene.
Unfortunately, it has become apparent that the Fall Flavours Festival in Prince Edward Island appears to be stuck somewhere between a nineteenth century and 1970's identity of the Island.
It is therefore no wonder that most of the events that I attended seem to have an average age of 60 for the attendees. And the one event that did have a youthful energy and was my favourite they managed to cancel. That was the Great Barbeque Event in which last year Chef Corbin and his team had a beer drink off and beat the competition [video above].
I have made fifteen hour drives to the PEI's Fall Flavours Festival and instead of seeing more innovation in the spirit of an evolution they seem to be going backward
This Event features an over repetition of Lobster, Mussels, Oysters and Potatoes alongside "shi-shi" sides with ticket prices of mostly $90 and up for every event reminiscent of the days when the Canadian dining pivoted on going to a restaurant with all men waitors dressed in "Penguin Suits".
Here's an example of "Lobsters overkill".
On August 30, Lobster is the main dish for the Acadian Event.
But for 30 more days you can repeat the experience of Lobster.
September 1-30: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 5:00pm you can go to a 'Lobsters Lovers' event for $95.
Oh.. but wait a second. From August 30 - October 6 at 12 pm. 5 pm and 8 pm in Cardigan you can go to an event titled 'Lobster and Mussel Shore Boil' for $115.
But just in case you missed these three Lobster events, no problem,
Why not go to the 'Lobster and the Beach' party on September 8th.
On September 19th you can have even more Lobster with Chef Michael Smith but this time for $172!
Or why not have some more Lobster September 20th, 21st, 22nd with Chef Lynn Crawford?
Or how about some more Lobster in North Rustico on September 27th?
On October 5th yet again, Lobster is front and centre.
Are you also getting the feeling of a complete lack of imagination by event organizers?
Does EVERYONE on the island mostly just eat Lobster?
After paying such a high price for one of these events where I got much less food than I expected, I had to go into Charlottetown in order to have a PROPER meal - so frustrating.
I hope that for 2020 this event begins to open up to the full diversity of the Island; gets in touch with modern food trends which have also reached the Island like "street food", and aim for $20 - $40 ticket prices like similar "upscale" but accessible food events like Winterlicious and Summerlicious in Toronto. Their events also need to begin to be more sensitive to gluten and other food allergies.
And please stop the apparent over-fishing of Lobster and start to better represent the cultural diversity and youthful energy that PEI has evolved into.
When I visited Charlottetown I saw the growing diversity of the Island. Places like Receiver Coffee in downtown Charlottetown is a café / bistro that I would recommend to visitors and expresses the kind of youthful and cosmopolitan energy missing from PEI's major food festival.
Surprisingly, I had the best butter chicken there that I have ever had prepared by a couple from southern India. Their butter chicken was better than any Indian restaurants that I have tried across Canada including those in Ottawa and Toronto. Ethnic diversity is apparent in Charlottetown's restaurant scene which include Middle Eastern, Chinese, Nepalese, Indian, Thai, European and other cuisine. First Nations are also a part of the Island's diversity along with new Amish migrants.
However, the only cultural identity that this PEI event has saw fit to recognize has been the historic Acadian community on the western part of the Indian.
PEI's Fall Flavours Festival attracts Chefs from Food Network Canada. But Event Organizers have shamefully not utilized these Chefs to present any ethnic or First Nations focused events other than one Acadian event.
A lack of ethno-racial diversity of chefs at the Festival is also notable and is consistent with the Festival apparent ossified and reactionary concept of the Island's identity within Canada.
Islanders have truly embraced cultural diversity and a youthful energy that Charlottetown represents and it's too bad that apparently event organizers have turned their back against it.
Event organizers need to expand their horizons from lobster and shellfish and begin to strive for events being more representative to the modern face of PEI