Posted: Tuesday 23rd October, 2012

Pumpkinpalooza in Barrie

“Pumpkin Soup, the best you ever tasted”, this line from a favourite children’s book, has been replaying in my head since attending the first annual Pumpkinpalooza Family day event, presented by the Muskoka and District Chefs Association and the Escoffier Society of Toronto, in honour of International Chefs Day, which is observed yearly on October 20th.

Chappell Farms on Penetanguishene Road, Barrie was the inspired site for this fall family festival. We often think of pumpkins as mere jack-o-lanterns, or perhaps for the adventuresome, those brave and patient souls, willing to untangle the mass of seeds from the inner guts of this rotund gourd for roasting, but with inspired talent, the chefs at Pumpkinpalooza were able to tantalize our taste buds with offerings inspired from this humble veggie. The Pumpkin Bistro was the place to be to try the aforementioned Pumpkin soup, a substantial Vegetarian pumpkin curry, Pumpkin Beef Chili, and perogies, along with more traditional fall fair menu items such as hot dogs and sausages. Presenting the sweet with the savoury, they included shortbreads, cupcakes, and apple cider too.

I found the pumpkin soup delicately seasoned, whereas the pumpkin curry awakened my taste buds with a hefty bite of spice, both were most enjoyable. I nibbled on some buttery rich shortbread cookies, forgoing the “eyeball cupcakes”, and my sweet tooth was satiated.

As I wandered across the site, making my way to the small yellow barn to admire the pumpkin carving contest submissions, I was delighted to overhear a saxophone serenade to pumpkins, competently played by Georgian College culinary student Erica Bos.

Prizes were to be awarded to professional carvers and youngsters.

Pumpkinpalooza was a joint project of members of CCFCC, (Canadian Culinary Federation), with chefs from CCFCC branches in Toronto, Muskoka, Hamilton and North Bay taking part, as members of WACS (World Association of Chefs Societies), a global network of chefs associations, first founded in October 1928, at the Sorbonne in Paris. WACS is a non-political professional organization, dedicated to maintaining and improving the culinary standards of global cuisines.

Concurrent events were occurring October 20 across Canada, and throughout the world. This humanitarian partnership was designed to bring focus on the 2012 theme chosen by WACS of
“How to feed the planet in the future”, to give exposure to the Chef’s trade, and to benefit the community and various charities.

Funds from this event will support; WACS World Chefs without Borders Program, (International Humanitarian Aid), The Leprosy Mission of Canada (providing treatment to impoverished peoples), and the Muskoka and District Junior Chefs Association (supporting culinary educational opportunities for the next generation of local chefs).

If a group of geese is a gaggle and a flock describes a bunch of flying birds, what does one call a gathering of Chefs? Chefs David Jones and Daniel Clements suggested a “brigade” would be apt terminology.

Whatever we may choose to call these professionals in chefs’ whites, I felt they displayed altruism and immense culinary talent at Pumpkinpalooza, creating tasty food and raising funds for
worthy causes. That to me makes a great event!

Mark October 20th on your calendar for next year and make Pumpkinpalooza a tradition for your family.

-Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie; follow her tweets at @penelopejmorrow

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