Archive » Arts and Entertainment

Authors in the Hills of Mulmur returns with cook book focus

August 11, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“It’s going to be a little twist this time,” said Nancy Frater, founder and owner of BookLore. “These authors are cook book authors in the theme of from the farm to the table, sustainable food and watching the industry [of food production].” 

On stage at the Foley Barn on Sunday, August 21, are Joshna Maharaj with her book, Take Back the Tray; Marilyn Smith, a regular feature on CityLife and an alumnus of Second City is bringing her book, Peace Love and Fibre.

Trish Magwood, a food presenter is ready with her book, My New Table and Deidre Buryk has to offer her new book of seasonal cooking in Ontario, Peak Season.

Mrs. Frater, always the generous host, told the Citizen, “There will be food from the books and local wine and beer.”

The afternoon is moderated by Bernadette Hardaker

Refreshments are included in the ticket price.

The Citizen had the chance to talk with Joshna Maharaj, food activist and regular contributor to the Jill Deacon show on CBC Radio One. As a food activist, this chef wants to shake up the way institutions feed their patients and inmates. 

Ms. Maharaj made the condemnation: “The food we give in institutions is a human rights violation.

“It’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand because people outside the system respond really well, finding allies is not difficult. The bigger challenge is actually is getting someone in medicine to sign on; to say ‘yes, let’s do this.’”

Joshna Maharaj does a Fall and Winter show, for people to phone in and ask questions about kitchens and cooking.

“I was listening to the gardening guy Paul Zammit and Jill [Deacon] share the column with him and I thought, ‘Why is there not a kitchen show and why am I not hosting it?’ So, I reached out to Jill just as she reached out to me to ask me to come and do a food segment on the column.”

Originally from India, her family was based in South Africa until they came to Canada when she was 18 months old. Now she is based in Toronto and she observed, “As a chef especially in a city, you need more than your own story.” 

Of her personal life, she went to George Brown College and her great joy in life as a single person, is that she is “a very happy, happy aunt; I really decided to help others raise their children.”

She wrote her book focussing on her life and politics: her work of overhauling food systems in public institutions, a hospital to re-think.

“Money is a challenge – there is a never enough. Nobody with any real power is interested; they don’t care at all. We can make a simple nutritious puree. The money is not connected and truthfully not a good enough reason for the level of food. 

“One of the most disappointing realities is trying to convince this government, who is not actually concerned about the most basics of needs for its citizens. Other little pockets of inspiration come from whoever has read my book and reaches out to say, what can be done.” 

This has been the point of her greatest focus. Where she was working at one time, she was focused on community nutrition. She explained there was a hospital that got some funding to improve conditions.

When they reached out to her, there was a long meeting about justice and how dieticians have been beaten up by the system.

“One of the most dismal reports that I got from a dietician, they said over and over, ‘we are so tired of apologizing to patients.’”

To some extent, Ms. Maharaja plans to “keep banging away. Years ago, I had a project at Sick Kids with the Minister of Health. They took a photo of me and a kid and a Greek salad and that’s the last we saw of her.

“We couldn’t blame her; she was dealing with the Orange helicopter scandal, which points out that it’s possible to siphon off millions of dollars from the medical system by private businesses, yet there isn’t an extra $2 per patient for nutritious meals. Why are we at the mercy of this – how the food is being handled at all?”

She made the point that, at some point in the ’90’s, schools surrendered kitchens for computer labs, saying “Show me a kid who doesn’t know how to use a computer but how many of them can make an omelette for lunch?”

Her other ambition, having applied to a grad school, is to introduce change about how cooking is taught.

“Fingers cross they’ll agree to my plan. I do a lot of teaching, re-thinking the culinary program itself. It’s an institute of colonization. We need to dismantle and rebuild the curriculum; remove the French method as the only authority. The real problem is chefs are forced through the French training, which is incredibly out-dated.”

Instead, she urges schools to talk about the fact that different parts of the world do things differently. Start with stock: the French want broth that is clear so we pull off the fat. With other cultures, the broth keeps the marrow off the bones to get that broth rich. 

Rather than staying with one culture as the gold standard, Ms. Maharaj wants to talk about it from a boarder perspective. She maintains that we can create a mode of education that includes a much wider perspective of cooking. Her culinary friends are saying, “Let’s do this.” 

Ms. Maharaja’s view is this is the imposition of corporate. 

This is her current ambition, to go to school first to learn about the pedagogy about how food is taught.

As a parting word on the matter of food, Joshna Maharaj said, “The single most important thing you can do for your family is spend more time cooking and eating together.”

Entitled “Get the Recipe,” for this author’s afternoon, tickets can be purchased at BookLore by calling 519-942-3830 or email More information can be provided by Mulmur Township and the Shelburne Public Library.

Foley Barn directions: north on Hwy 10 from Orangeville to Hwy 89 and cross straight on to Prince of Wales Road. Turn right on Sideroad 10, right on First Line, left into the driveway. Foley Barn is located on the corner of Sideroad 10 and First Line.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.