Meet Toronto’s 2016 Terra Madre Delegates

July 12, 2016

Slow Food Toronto is pleased to be sending two delegates to the 2016 Terra Madre gathering in Turin, Italy this September. Terra Madre is an international gathering that brings together thousands of farmers and food producers from 150 countries in Turin to celebrate and learn about good, clean and fair food, as well as slow food movements happening around the world. The event features presentations, networking opportunities, a food fair and more. Slow Food Canada chose the Canadian delegates from across Canada.

Two delegates were chosen from Toronto: Nicole Pisarenko and Mina Bani. Slow Food Toronto is very happy to send these two individuals off to Italy, and we hope that what they learn and experience at this important international gathering will have a positive impact on their lives and careers. Here are Nicole’s and Mani’s bios, as well as whatt they hope to learn at the 2016 Terra Madre Salone del Gusto.

nicole-terra-madreNicole Pisarenko: My name is Nicole Pisarenko and I am a recent graduate of the George Brown College Italian Post Graduate Culinary Arts program. This program is designed for the students to learn everything involving Italian cuisine and then do a three-and-a-half-month Externship in a restaurant that is usually a Michelin -Star level. There I had my eyes opened to how easy it is to get good food. They don’t even have to think twice about checking labels and wondering what is inside their food or where it came from. Local, organic, heirloom, clean, good and fair: Italy truly does have the best food culture in the world. They preserve their heritage along with their species of food and traditional ways of farming/ processing. Living in Canada most of my life, it made me sad that we too, a country with more land and a smaller population then Italy, battle food sovereignty and cannot get it together with our food system!  With abundances of natural resources and native foods that grow on our land, most of us wouldn’t even be able to name half, not to mention know how to cook it. I strongly believe that changes are on their way in the new world, but we must fight for it. How do we do that? We inform ourselves and others. I would like to try and create a system in our schools, where children learn valuable life skills beginning with food. How to grow their own food, how to cook and even raise awareness about what it means to have good quality food. It begins with the children and ends with them too. This is why Terra Madre is exciting to me. I am a chef and a restaurant manager who is craving change in this wonderful country of ours. Terra Madre can help me lead the way.

Mina Bani: My name is Mina and this is my first year as a member of Slow Food Canada. I studied literature and Cultural studies in University, and after writing my thesis about the role of food in culture, I decided I needed some practical experience to supplement my theoretical notions about food. Two years of culinary school, several years cooking in kitchens in Toronto, and a year cooking in Italy have brought me to this point today. My passion for the preparation of food and for feeding people is a major creative force in my life; one which has brought me to some of the most distinguished kitchens in Canada and Italy. Yet my understanding of the problematic state of our food systems informs my desire to do more than prepare exciting plates of food in restaurants. Over the last year I have read extensively to educate myself on responsible approaches to food in the urban landscape and hope to bring my unique combination of skills and insights to a place where they can help achieve collective goals of food security and justice in the future. Knowing that Terra Madre is one of the largest gathering of like-minded people who share many of my passions and concerns, I am thrilled to be representing Canada in 2016, and to meet and network with the amazing food growers and workers from around the world. My writing can be found at an online project I have recently launched at, and I currently live, cook, and write in Toronto.

You can also read a write up Mina wrote about a recent Slow Fish event (hosted by Slow Food Toronto) here.


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