by Malcolm Jolley

Karen Gelbart will chair Taste Canada's new Food Writing Awards

The competition for the best cook book in English and French Canada, long associated with the University of Guelph announced it is changing its name logo and award categories to become Taste Canada – The Food Writing Awards. The Food Writing Awards are “an evolution” of Cuisine Canada’s Canadian Culinary Book Awards, new National Chair Karen Gelbart told GFR.

Gelbart made the announcement early in 2012 to take effect right away. A former senior executive at Shaw Media, which broadcasts Food Network Canada, Gelbart came on board to “build brand” and apply her media background to raising the profile of the awards, since she believes the work of Canadian food writers “deserves wider recognition”.

The 2012 awards will feature four categories, with winner for both official languages: General Cookbook; Single Subject; Regional/Cultural; and Culinary Narratives. Publishers must submit their books by February 1.

While Gelbart sees her job as “streamline and simplify” she also hopes to add some glamour to the Food Writing Awards ceremony and is currently looking for a new Toronto venue. She does not rule out future awards ceremonies being held in other Canadian cities in other years.

2012 will mark the fifteenth anniversary of the awards, which were founded by Anita Stewart’s Cuisine Canada in association with the University of Guelph’s Library. The library is noted for its extensive collection of Canadian cookbooks, dating back to before Confederation. Stewart was named to the Order of Canada on December 31, 2011 for her work as a champion of Canadian cuisine.

Gelbart is eager to maintain a “historical connection” between The Food Writing Awards and the former Cuisine Canada awards, telling GFR, “In our drive to attract a new audience, we must be respectful of our history”. Gelbart added that she has received “lots of goodwill” from Stewart and cited the author and fellow awards champions, Elizabth Baird and Rose Murray as pioneers in developing Canadian cookbook awareness and added they have been “nothing but generous” to her and the new awards.

The awards will be held and announced in Toronto in November 2012.

Malcolm Jolley is a founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Follow him at Photo: John Gundy.