Behind Every Great Cook Is a Great Mother

In May 2020, the Culinary Historians of Canada celebrated Mother’s Day with a series of live webinars titled “Behind Every Great Cook Is a Great Mother”. Hosted by John Ota, author of The Kitchen, and engineered by Julia Armstrong, they assembled a roster of notable chefs, cooks and culinary authors to talk about their mothers’ influence on their careers.

This project was supported by Employment and Social Development Canada, Service Canada through the New Horizons for Seniors program.

Episode 1: Elizabeth Baird

Since publishing Classic Canadian Cooking: Menus for the Seasons in 1974, Elizabeth Baird has become one of Canada’s best-loved and most prolific cookbook authors. For 20 years, she served as food editor for Canadian Living magazine, and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, such as “Canadian Living Cooks” on Food Network Canada. In 2013, Elizabeth was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to the promotion of Canada’s diverse food heritage. She writes a weekly column, “Baird’s Bites,” for the Toronto Sun and SunMedia and is a volunteer historic cook at Fort York National Historic Site.


Episode 2: Marion Kane & Doris Fin

Chef and teacher Doris Fin has made it her mission to help people rediscover their love for real cooking. After more than two decades of cooking and over a decade of travelling, teaching hundreds of people, and feeding thousands, Doris is currently working on her first cookbook, weaving her knowledge and the history of food to reawaken people to the endless possibilities of their birthright: gathering, cooking, and feasting; all innate necessities that have become to many as exotic and foreign as making bread. 

Seasoned food journalist Marion Kane has been a leader in the world of food journalism for several decades. For 18 years, she was food editor/columnist for the Toronto Star. In 2007, Marion resigned from The Toronto Star to pursue the medium of audio podcasts with her lively series “Sittin’ in the Kitchen®.”


Episode 3: Karon Liu & Anne Lindsay

Anne Lindsay has written about food for numerous Canadian publications, including Canadian Living (since 1980), where she was nutrition editor for 10 years. She appeared regularly on Cityline for a decade. Anne has written six award-winning best-sellers: Smart Cooking (with the Canadian Cancer Society), winner of the General Foods Award for Excellence in Nutrition Communication; The Lighthearted Cookbook and Lighthearted Everyday Cooking (Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada); Anne Lindsay’s Light Kitchen (Canadian Diabetes Association); Anne Lindsay’s New Light Cooking (with the Canadian Medical Association & Denise Beatty, RD), and Lighthearted at Home. Anne was awarded the Order of Canada in 2003.

Karon Liu is a food writer, recipe developer and recipe tester based in Toronto. His work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Maclean’s and Sharp Magazine,  and on Food Network Canada, among other outlets.


Episode 4: Joe Thottungal

Joe Thottungal is the executive chef at the Coconut Lagoon Restaurant in Ottawa. Born in the State of Kerala in South India, he worked in India and Saudi Arabia before coming to Canada, where he has cooked at Toronto’s Centro Bar and Grill, the Royal York Hotel and Annona Restaurant at the Park Hyatt Hotel, as well as at Café Cache at Casino Windsor and the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa.


Episode 5: Dana McCauley & Susan Musgrave

Dana McCauley is the founder of Blue Unicorn Innovation, as well as a recipe writer, cookbook author, food consultant and chef. As a leader in her field, Dana has developed a reputation as a food trends expert and explores food fads in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia. She has made hundreds of television appearances on shows such as “Canada AM,” “Breakfast Television,” “The Today Show” and CNN; she was an on-air judge for two seasons of reality TV show “Recipe to Riches.” She has written for many publications, including Canadian Living, Chatelaine and Elm Street magazines; she is the former food editor of Homemakers and Style at Home magazines.

Susan Musgrave has published more than 30 books and received awards in six categories—poetry, novels, non-fiction, food writing, editing and books for children. She has received multiple awards, including the Matt Cohen Award, the B.C. Book Awards, and Taste Canada Awards. She lives on Haida Gwaii, where she owns and manages Copper Beech House and teaches poetry in the University of British Columbia’s Optional Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program. Her most recent book, A Taste of Haida Gwaii: Food Gathering and Feasting at the Edge of the World, won the 2016 Taste Canada Award for Regional/Cultural Cookbook.


Episode 6: Selwyn Richards & Julie van Rosendaal

Born in Jamaica, chef Selwyn Richards studied at George Brown College in Toronto and has worked in a variety of prestigious restaurants there, including the Skyline Hotel, the Island Yacht Club, the CN Tower (as sous chef) and the Earl Of Whitchurch in Whitchurch-Stouffville. He played a crucial role in the opening of the SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) as head chef. He serves as corporate chef for Grace Kennedy. He owned and managed Pepperpot Café for many years, and is currently CEO of The Art of Catering, which he operates with his brothers Lennox and Travis. He published Art of Cooking: Soul of the Caribbean in 2014.

Julie Van Rosendaal writes about food for many publications, including the Globe and Mail, where she serves as contributing food editor, and, since 2008, her own blog Dinner With Julie. She also posts regular podcasts and talks about food trends, recipes and cooking tips weekly on the CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener and co-hosted three seasons of the how-to cooking show “It’s Just Food” with chef Ned Bell. Author of 11 best-selling cookbooks, her most recent is Dirty Food: Sticky, Saucy, Gooey, Crumbly, Messy Shareable Food.


Episode 7: Daphna Rabinovitch, Simon Thibault & Jennifer Cockrall-King

Daphna Rabinovitch, pastry chef, former Test Kitchen director at Canadian Living magazine, and freelance consultant has loved cooking and baking for as long as she can remember. She has been in the food industry for over 25 years, and co-hosted, along with Elizabeth Baird and Emily Richards, one of the first cooking shows in Canada. She won her first Taste Canada Gold Award for the book Canadian Living Step by Step, and her second in 2016 for The Baker in Me.

Simon Thibault is a journalist, food writer, editor, and radio producer based in Halifax. His work has been featured on CBC Radio, in the Globe and Mail, and on the Huffington Post, the Southern Foodways Alliance’s podcast, Gravy, Vice, and more. He is also the author of Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food (Nimbus Publishing). As a developmental editor at Nimbus Publishing, he has focused on titles that deal with culinary, Acadian, and LGBTQ+ themes. Simon has a great love for all things whole grain, apples and all things pomological, and collecting cookbooks.

Jennifer Cockrall-King , who is based in Naramata, in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, writes about food, drinks, cooking and nature, and is a contributing editor and columnist for the magazine Eighteen Bridges.  Jennifer examines issues such as food culture, food security, urban planning and urban agriculture. Her first book, Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolution (Prometheus Books, 2012), was followed in 2016 by Food Artisans of the Okanagan: Your Guide to Locally Crafted Fare (TouchWood Editions, 2016), which won the 2017 Taste Canada Gold Award for Culinary Narratives. She also co-authored Tawaw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine with her friend chef Shane Chartrand (House of Anansi Press, 2019).


Episode 8: Michael Olson, Naomi Duguid & Vikram Vij

Michael Olson is a chef, educator, vintage deli slicer collector, BBQ aficionado and bon vivant. He lives in the Niagara region of Ontario with his wife, Anna. He is a constant and enthusiastic student of food in addition to his role as a professor at the Niagara College Canadian Food and Wine Institute. He has been recognized for his contributions to the Canadian culinary scene and has co-authored three bestselling cookbooks: Living High off the Hog – “a carnivore’s love letter to one of the most versatile, affordable and tasty types of meat, pork” – Inn on the Twenty Cookbook and Anna and Michael Olson Cook at Home.

Curious about the world and an insatiable asker of questions, Naomi Duguid is a writer, photographer, storyteller, traveller. Her books include Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, & Kurdistan (winner of the 2017 IACP award for best book of food and travel); the award-winning 2012 cookbook Burma: Rivers of Flavor; and co-author of six other award-winning books of food and travel, including Flatbreads & Flavors and Hot Sour Salty Sweet.

The chef, author and TV personality Vikram Vij was born in India and grew up in Amritsar and Mumbai. He studied hotel management in Salzburg, Austria, before moving to Canada to work at the Banff Springs Hotel. He is the co-owner of Vij’s restaurant in Vancouver, which opened in 1994 with a menu that would change the landscape of Indian cuisine in Canada. He is also co-owner of Rangoli, opened My Shanti in South Surrey in 2014 and also runs Sutra in Victoria. Vikram Vij is the author of Vij: A Chef’s One-Way Ticket to Canada with Indian Spices in His Suitcase, which was awarded the 2018 Taste Canada Award for Culinary Narratives. He is the co-author with Meeru Dhalwala of Vij’s Indian: Our Stories, Spices and Cherished Recipes, and has published two other cookbooks.

Episode 9: Julian Armstrong

Episode 10: Rose Murray

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