IN­FLU­ENCER: Ar­lene Stein, Food Com­mu­nity Builder

DINE and Destinations - - CONTENTS -

Adam Wax­man A mod­ern day Pla­tonic Sym­po­sium, Ter­roir gath­ers in­ter­na­tional in­dus­try lead­ers over food and wine to share ideas about the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. With this Toronto-based event, you’ve har­vested in­tel­lec­tual seeds that have ger­mi­nated crit­i­cal thought on sus­tain­abil­ity, com­mu­nity build­ing and global food is­sues, gar­ner­ing at­ten­tion and in­flu­ence across Canada and around the world. Was that your aim? Ar­lene Stein The Sym­po­sium it­self has al­ways been about pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment in the field of hos­pi­tal­ity. Ter­roir was cre­ated as a metaphor for all the el­e­ments that com­bined to­gether to make up this in­dus­try— whether it’s a chef, a som­me­lier, a front of house man­ager, or a sup­plier, pro­ducer, or even the mar­ket­ing/ PR end of it. Our logo, the colour wheel, is em­blem­atic of all of th­ese pieces com­ing to­gether to cre­ate a nu­cleus, an in­dus­try.

A.W. What was your im­pulse to cre­ate this? A.S. When we cre­ated Ter­roir 10 years ago, peo­ple didn’t share in­for­ma­tion. At that time if you wanted to meet up with your col­leagues it would typ­i­cally be at wine tast­ings. For my­self, work­ing in the front of house, it was frus­trat­ing, be­cause I wanted to see more of a se­ri­ous­ness placed on the busi­ness, and I be­lieved the way to do that was through ed­u­ca­tion, net­work­ing and shar­ing. We should be think­ing about train­ing our­selves and be­com­ing more in­vested and more ed­u­cated. There isn’t an­other fo­rum in Canada where peo­ple con­vene this way.

A.W. To what do you at­tribute its suc­cess? A.S. Com­mu­nity. As we’ve grown, all the peo­ple we’ve en­gaged over time have be­come more in­vested. They feel an own­er­ship. It’s been a true grass roots evo­lu­tion. Ter­roir has brought in­dus­try peo­ple to­gether as a gath­er­ing point; helped cre­ate real busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for those who at­tend—and that’s why peo­ple come, be­cause they know those con­nec­tions get made dur­ing the con­fer­ence—and it’s been in­spi­ra­tional and ed­u­ca­tional. Cana­di­ans from ev­ery prov­ince are com­ing. They say, ‘We come be­cause this is the mo­ment ev­ery year where we can con­nect with our friends, our col­leagues; where we get to share what we’ve done over the past year.’

A.W. What is the theme for Ter­roir’s 10th? A.S. For 2016, it’s Arts, Cul­ture and Tech­nol­ogy. The event will hap­pen through­out the Art Gallery of On­tario. Tech­nol­ogy is be­com­ing very preva­lent, and this is the mo­ment to in­cor­po­rate it.

A.W. Ter­roir caters to the in­dus­try, not to the con­sumer. A.S. Our be­lief is that we im­pact the in­dus­try, and it im­pacts the con­sumer. We’re strictly a busi­ness-to-busi­ness event. That said, this year we ex­per­i­mented with con­sumer col­lab­o­ra­tive din­ners. The rea­son was twofold: we can touch the con­sumer with our con­tent providers, and cap­i­tal­ize on at­ten­dance by giv­ing the speak­ers an­other out­let to ex­press their ideas and philoso­phies. It was su­per-suc­cess­ful, and we’re con­tin­u­ing that next year with an­other five din­ners. I’m plan­ning one with a chef from Is­rael who will work in col­lab­o­ra­tion with folks in Toronto to put on a cul­tur­ally sig­nif­i­cant din­ner at Frank [in the AGO] im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing the sym­po­sium.

A.W. Where do you see Ter­roir headed? A.S. Smaller one-off events in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions; delv­ing into deeper is­sues that are con­sis­tent in the food in­dus­try—not un­like a con­cept we just com­pleted in New­found­land, where we worked with a part­ner or­ga­ni­za­tion, Chefs for Oceans, in­vited a small group of in­dus­try peo­ple, ex­am­ined one par­tic­u­lar is­sue through the lens of that net­work, and cre­ated a story for a broader au­di­ence. For 2016, my plan is to do some­thing sim­i­lar in Nor­way, Min­neapo­lis and Mon­treal.

A.W. Your mis­sion seems to be global in that you are con­nect­ing lo­cal move­ments around the world. A.S. We all share the same con­sid­er­a­tions and chal­lenges with re­spect to our food sys­tem and dis­tri­bu­tion is­sues, and I think we learn from each other by shar­ing in that way. Through th­ese events we’re not only bring­ing con­tent providers to­gether to have con­ver­sa­tions and to cook, but to really think about one par­tic­u­lar is­sue in a way that we might not have be­fore, and learn some­thing from dif­fer­ent ex­perts. We all have dif­fer­ent ex­per­tise de­pend­ing on where we’re com­ing from in the world. Bring­ing to­gether dif­fer­ent points of view al­lows peo­ple to grow.

Our logo, the colour wheel, is em­blem­atic of all of these pieces com­ing to­gether to cre­ate a nu­cleus, an in­dus­try

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