Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop 2016

Okanagan Valley
Okanagan Valley

With writing deadlines pending, public trials at YYC Calgary’s new International terminal to attend, and a little Thanksgiving cooking and travel to enjoy over the past two weeks, I’m just now sorting through my notes from the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers Workshop held at the Manteo Resort in Kelowna Sept. 30-Oct. 2.

Jennifer Cockrall-King with Hank Markgraf
Jennifer Cockrall-King with grower/horticulturalist, Hank Markgraf

Those of you familiar with the workshop will know it’s the love’s labour of Jennifer Cockrall-King, author of Food and the City and Food Artisans of the Okanagan, who splits her time between homes in Edmonton and the Okanagan Valley (when she’s not on the road researching articles for various print publications).  This was my first appearance at the Workshop – now in its 7th year – but it’s safe to say I’ll be joining the ranks of previous alumni who return regularly to the event for more.

More of what, you ask?

More opportunities to meet the chefs, growers, and winemakers who’ve put the Okanagan Valley firmly on the map of North American oenophiles and food lovers.

More engaging workshops designed for food, wine, and travel writers, regardless of where they are in their careers.

Lunch at Manteo Resort
Lunch at Manteo Resort

Workshops like Timothy Fowler‘s interactive session on “The Pleasure and Discipline of Daily Writing”, complete with short-but-sweet writing exercises to stimulate the creativity in anyone.

Or “How to Find Great Stories in Food”, presented by Sunset Magazine‘s Food Editor, Margo True – who took us behind the scenes of her award-winning stories at Gourmet, Saveur, and Sunset, to share her own lessons learned  and sources of inspiration.

Jill Foran, Editor of WestJet Magazine, helped us hone our query skills in “The Art of the Pitch” and Jennifer Cockrall-King brought it back to the personal with “Authenticity and Connection in Good Writing”.

Summerhill oyster
Composed Oyster, Summerhill Bistro

Woven between these plenaries were bonus presentations by Tourism Vernon, Quails’ Gate Wines, and Carmelis Goat Cheese (replete with treats, I might add).

And then there were the field trips:  an orchard experience and hands-on galette-making with Hank and Darcel Markgraf representing B.C. Tree Fruits; a tasting of Kitsch Winery’s newly-minted award-winning 2015 Riesling with winemaker Grant Biggs; and Gabe Cipes’ sunset tour of the biodynamic gardens at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, followed by a 4-course gastronomic experience created by Summerhill’s new Executive Chef, Alex Lavroff and hosted by CEO Ezra Cipes.

Kitsch 2015 Riesling
Kitsch 2015 Riesling

Back at home base, the kitchens of the Manteo Resort and Hotel Eldorado took our fueling needs to new heights, with the Eldorado’s Vince Van Wieringen recreating a veritable flower garden on our lunch plates and the Manteo’s Marc Schoene and his culinary team pulling out all the stops with spectacular breakfasts, a seafood-inspired lunch, and a true Okanagan farm-to-table harvest dinner.

Kudos to you all for the generous sharing of your talents and passion.  And special thanks to Jill Foran and Margo True for your positive feedback on my own new work during our 1:1 Blue Pencil sessions.

I can’t wait until next year…

Hotel Eldorada salad
Roasted Apple & Spinach Salad, Hotel Eldorado

Text and photos © 2016 Catherine Van Brunschot

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