(1) What got you interested in your line of work?
I was always interested in a career in cooking. In fact, I wanted to go to culinary school right out of high school but was discouraged since in those days, college wasn’t seen as the first choice for education in Canada. Instead, I got a degree in English Literature from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and then went to culinary school as a mature student.
(2) What are the advantages of your line of work?
In my role as head of new product innovation at Janes Family Foods I get to be creative every day and solve problems that, I hope, make a difference in people’s lives. For instance, we recently became not just the first frozen food company in Canada, but the first in North America to offer 100% sustainably caught line of wild seafood. I’m so proud to be part of a group that wants to make sustainable food part of everyday life and not just a luxury for people who can afford to eat regularly at fine dining restaurants.
I also get to meet fascinating people as a judge on Food Network Canada’s Recipe to Riches where home cooks compete to have their recipe turned into a grocery store product. Knowing what people cook at home gives you an amazing insight into what it means to be Canadian!
(3) What are the disadvantages of your line of work?
It sounds crazy but eating. It’s hard to stick to a diet and fitness regime when on any given day you may need to taste 20 fish samples to choose the right one to launch. Likewise, on a typical Recipe to Riches audition day, we meet between 100 and 120 people and we have to give each recipe a fair tasting.
(4) If someone wanted to do what you, what do you recommend?
My career has had a life of its own. Saying ‘why not?’ has been key to me getting to where I am today. I started out in the restaurant side of things working on the line and when a pal of mine was leaving the Canadian Living Test kitchen, I applied for her job and got it. That was the first of many times I said ‘why not’ and went for the adventure of trying something new in the food business. I’m curious and when new opportunities arise, I often jump at them. As a result, I’m constantly acquiring new skills and experiences that make me better at everything else I do.
(5) Is there a cookbook, food magazine, website that you feel depicts the food of your country accurately? Is there a key person in your culture that you can name?
Canada is an amazing country with a myriad of different culinary influences. For many people the person who has epitomized Canadian Cuisine in the last couple of decades is Elizabeth Baird, the now retired food editor at Canadian Living Magazine. The wonderful thing about Elizabeth is that her articles and books celebrate Canadian home cooking as much as they celebrate Canadian chefs so she really does encapsulate what Canadians actually eat very well.
(6) Can you suggest any traditional music or perhaps recommend some popular music that is native of your country?
(7) Is there a movie you can recommend that shows your country? Perhaps, one that was based on your local history, or one that was just filmed there.
Did you know that a huge number of the movies and TV shows Americans watch were filmed in Canada? Battlestar Galactica, the new Terminator remake, and Broke Back Mountain were all filmed here. (I think that’s why there is confusion and an assumption that Canada is the same as America – we are so similar in so many ways.) That said, we have our own wonderful movie culture that includes directors such as Atom Egoyan and Sarah Polley who make movies that showcase Canada in contemporary and truthful ways. Check out the Sweet Hereafter which, although based on an American novel, is set in small town British Columbia and Sarah Polley’s Away from Her.
(8) Can you recommend any travelogues or travel books that could better educate readers of your country?
Canada, like France and many other countries before us, is developing wonderful culinary tourism programs. In Ontario, where I live, the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance is a great resource. A Google search should find similar websites in other provinces, too.
Your name: Dana McCauley
© 2011 Jennifer A. Wickes All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from the author.