Food & Wine Show cancellation a big loss for Fanshawe students

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: EMILY STEWART
Fanshawe students perform a culinary demonstration at the Food & Wine Show, 2017.

Earlier this month, the Western Fair District announced the cancellation of all its winter and spring shows. The Western Fair Association (WFA) has not held any of its traditional shows or events since March to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

This means the cancellation of several shows, including the Food & Wine Show.

Fanshawe College is usually well represented at the Food & Wine Show. The Fanshawe stage at the Western Fair event features demonstrations by chefs from the college’s restaurant, Chef’s Table. There are often also opportunities for performances by Music Industry Arts (MIA) students.

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Michelle Giroux, Associate Dean of the School of Digital and Performing Arts, said the show is a chance for the college to connect with the community.

“That’s one of the ways that we try to reach out to the London area marketplace to let them know what the restaurant offers,” she said.

She said the cancellation was disappointing, but not surprising.

“We’ll be disappointed not to showcase the Chef’s Table because obviously only being downtown and having a new facility and only being there for two years, there’s still lots of people who don’t know about us,” said Giroux.

Giroux acknowledged the health and safety of the community comes first and the decision made by the WFA was in the best interests of public health guidelines.

While the Food & Wine Show is a chance for the community to see what Fanshawe has going on, it’s also a chance for students to showcase their talents and engage with Londoners.

“It will be disappointing not to showcase their talent at the Food & Wine Show,” said Giroux. “Even before, not knowing this, we were looking for other avenues to give that same learning experience.”

In response, the program is seeking alternatives to keep students engaged with the community. The Chef’s Table has partnered with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) to help provide meals to youth in the shelter. Giroux said it has been a rewarding experience for the students involved.

“They are enjoying knowing that they are lending a helping hand to maybe a peer or somebody in their own age group that is going through a hard time right now,” she said.

hard time right now,” she said. Giroux said the culinary arts program is also looking at ways of partnering with the London Food Bank, to put donated ingredients to use to feed London’s homeless. One plan involves a community coffee cart that provides coffee and snacks to the city’s less fortunate population.

“How can Fanshawe produce maybe some of the snacks that go on that cart?” said Giroux. “That would be a wonderful way for our students to be involved within our community and help out even further.”

The WFA is also working on moving some of their shows to a virtual format, which could offer a new opportunity for Fanshawe’s culinary arts faculty.

“Could we do a virtual demonstration, or a mixology live class to showcase the students,” said Giroux.

She added that the WFA is working with the college to coordinate a way to make it happen.

“Nothing is off the table right now,” said Giroux.