Onanole Cultural Hotbed of Things To Do Dec. 6 – 8, 2013

Onanole, Manitoba is the southern gateway to Riding Mountain National Park. It is becoming a cultural hotbed of artisans, restaurateurs, and innovative entrepreneurs who are creating new visitor experiences and services in four seasons. The national park ski trails are tracked and snowshoeing is already outstanding throughout the park. This weekend promises a lot of cool culture – A Christmas Show & Sale at Orion Studio  at 216 Orion Drive (please see poster attached for hours) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday also features the annual Crawford Park Craft Sale just west of Onanole. Saturday, Dec. 7 is the annual Harvest Sun fund-raising Dinner & Concert, which will take place at the Onanole Community Centre. Advance tickets are required. Greg MacPherson & Leanne Zacharias will be performing. Harvest Sun Catering will be provide a “locally sourced” dinner. Finally, all of these activities will be anchored by some of the best cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Manitoba. Snow conditions are fantastic – with over 15cm of fresh snow in the Wasagaming area, and 20+cm at Moon Lake. Trails are packed and many track set. This is a snowshoeing paradise!

Harvest Sun annual dinner and concert

Annual fund raising dinner and concert for Harvest Sun Festival

Orion Studio annual Christmas Show & Sale, Onanole, Manitoba

Orion Studios annual show and sale featuring Sue Davar Pottery and fellow artist

Clear Lake Golf Course offers new cuisine in 2009

I have had the opportunity to experience the cuisine of Executive Chef Ilse Mohn and Sous-Chef Chad Robinson on more than one occasion this year. As well, a number of other local people have been experiencing their flavors this summer. The verdict: very good quality, great service, new!

Bison carpaccio appetizer with Manitoba Bothwell cheese

Bison carpaccio appetizer with Manitoba Bothwell cheese

One group that we had here last week had requested a unique lunch menu as part of a customized GPS adventure quest that we created for their sales team.

I worked with the team at the Clear Lake Golf Course (Riding Mountain National Park) to create an imaginative and never-before delivered combination of flavours, textures and presentation that left our group not just satisfied, but clearly surprised and delighted.

I love this aspect of experiential tourism – crafting one of a kind experiences that under-promise mystery and intrigue, while over-delivering surprises, moments of delight, and in the words of one member of our group, “I’ve been here before several times, but never had this…It was great.”

Great cuisine is something that people will travel for long distances, to experience.  In particular, we featured local bison, Manitoba cheese, local herbs, local baking, local recipes, and local berries in the saskatoon tarts (that we made under the watchful guidance of Ilse herself).  Congratulations to Ilse and Chad and the entire team at the Clear Lake Golf Course restaurant.  Keep it up!

All for one – one for all

Students at Assiniboine Community College create lunch together

Students at Assiniboine Community College create lunch together

 

I had the privilege of co-creating and delivering a workshop yesterday at the Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts (MICA) on the campus of Assiniboine Community College (ACC) in Brandon, Manitoba.  In collaboration with faculty members Matt Otten and Joanne Canada-Somers and Kyle Zalluski, we provided about 50 students with opportunities to learn about climate change, and discuss the implications of what was learned in terms of their own lives and professions.  

We then engaged the students in crafting an interactive lunch experience making two soups, fresh and warm tea biscuits, a salad with freshly-made dressing, angel food cake with fresh strawberries, and WOW, was it good!  As much as possible, local foods from within a 100 mile radius were used.  During the morning and lunch experience, we began the process of engaging students to tell their own story of what they are learning, and why tourism marketing today is so dependent on Internet technology. Using a new WordPress Blog,  four students took photographs and wrote two articles that captured some of their learning, impressions, and their quotes.  Well done!

This new blog served as a useful tool to discuss the implications of Web2.0 in tourism.   We discussed how chefs in other places in the world are using blogs,  and how different websites can convey the essence of the “culinary experience” by using effective photographs, videos, or well-written blogs.   The afternoon discussion with our panel of student photographers and writers as well as the rest of the students and teachers reviewing the uploaded blog content was instructive and tangible – it was immediate feedback to everyone.

I provided a concluding presentation about experiential tourism including a few examples of the kinds of tourism experiences that Earth Rhythms is crafting.  A facilitated student sharing circle at the end was powerful with insights about the impact of the day.

This is a very important audience.  Students graduating from tourism and culinary schools today will be our leaders in restaurants and tourism enterprises in the future.  They will be creating food experiences for travelers to Manitoba over the next generation.  Being aware of the carbon footprint of food as part of the travel experience is one step towards developing food and tourism experiences that demonstrate sustainability.  We look forward to finding ways to partner in business, with the students and faculty of MICA, to create new Manitoba cuisine.  What a great introduction!  Thank you.