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Anita Stewart, Visionary Leader on Canadian Cuisine

Anita Stewart with Alice Raine

Alice Raine, Director of Operations, and Anita Stewart at AFI's 2018 Food Day Canada celebration.

It is with profound sorrow that we learned of the passing of our dear friend, Anita Stewart.

A fierce and passionate advocate for Canadian cuisine, Anita always sought to ensure Canadians knew about and had access to the terroir that surrounded them. Key to her legacy is Food Day Canada.  Began in 2003 as a way of expressing solidarity with farmers suffering from the BSE outbreak, this advocacy grew beyond The World’s Longest Barbeque and into an entire movement that highlights the bounty produced in Canada each year. Through the Food Day Canadas that now follow on each Civic Holiday weekend and light up the Canadian skyline, farmers, harvesters, processors, chefs, writers, academics and families have been joined together from coast to coast to coast in shared celebration.

Her infectious enthusiasm for the food, which began in the kitchen, extended far beyond the dinner plate. While always focused on the joy of eating and preparing good, healthy, Canadian food, she was just as committed to issues of environmental sustainability, diversity, labour conditions, and the vibrancy of the sector writ large.

Anita wore many hats and one of them was as a supportive colleague of the University of Guelph, as well as of Arrell Food Institute since before its official founding. Many of us were privileged to enjoy her influence on the menus of our events, through the voices she elevated to the stage, and through the opportunities her advocacy for Canada’s Food University presented. Anita constantly challenged us to be excellent and we aspire to continue to meet her high expectations. Anita was an enthusiastic mentor to our team and students, and she has left a lasting impression on all our careers.

At Arrell Food Institute, we were lucky to call Anita our friend, and we fondly remember sharing meals with her, or being treated to her scones or fudge.

We are comforted that Anita’s legacy will live on through the reputation she built for the University of Guelph, and that the Anita Stewart Alumni Food Laboratory will be a place for generations of students to connect with Canadian cuisine.

 

Evan Fraser, Alice Raine, and the AFI team