Media Release

UBC hosts Canada’s first-ever plant-based culinary training and summit for food service professionals



May 29, 2017

UBC hosts Canada’s first-ever plant-based culinary training and summit for food service professionals

Vancouver – Chefs and food service professionals from across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and from as far as Winnipeg will be gathering this week at UBC for Canada’s first “Forward Food Culinary Training & Summit”. This workshop has helped over 1,100 food service professionals in the United States meet growing demand for healthier, more sustainable and cost-effective menu items.

Hosted by UBC Food Services, in partnership with Humane Society International/Canada, The Humane Society of the United States, and the Vancouver Humane Society, the two-day culinary experience will help chefs refine their plant-based cooking skills and will offer hands-on training, led by Chef Wanda White, former Executive Operations Chef at the University of North Texas who opened the U.S.’s first vegan university dining hall. Chef Wanda will instruct attendees on how to prepare delicious meatless, eggless, and dairy-free entrees that will appeal to guests of all dietary preferences.

“It’s wonderful to see the high level of enthusiasm for plant-based meals among chefs and food service managers in BC,” said Gabriel Wildgen, Campaign Manager for HSI/Canada. “We expect this event to be the first of many across Canada. Together with our partners in the education and nutrition, we’re creating healthier, more sustainable communities, all while providing delicious meals that cut costs.”

Following the May 29th and 30th culinary training will be a Forward Food Summit on May 31st, geared towards food service professionals and offering insights into the latest trends in both implementing and marketing plant-based menu items. The summit includes a series of speakers, a cooking demonstration, lunch at the UBC Farm (weather permitting) and opportunities for attendees to share skills in a peer-to-peer environment.

“UBC Food Services is passionate about this topic,” said Melissa Baker, Registered Dietitian and Manager of Nutrition and Wellbeing with UBC Food Services. “We know about the many health benefits of eating a primarily plant-based diet, including a reduced risk for chronic disease. Plant-based diets are also more sustainable. This event is an opportunity for our food services team and other institutions to raise awareness of these benefits and to better meet the growing demand for plant-based offerings in food service operations across Canada.”

UBC Food Services intends to incorporate some of the recipes being featured in the culinary training into campus menus, including at a dedicated vegetarian stations at all three residence dining halls starting September 2017.

Plant-based eating is gaining momentum throughout Metro Vancouver and beyond, with new veggie-based restaurants and meat-alternatives launching on a regular basis. Meanwhile, meat-reduction initiatives like Meatless Monday are being embraced by local students, who are helping add plant-based items to cafeteria menus with the help of the Vancouver Humane Society.

“We’re thrilled to be supporting eleven local schools with their Meatless Monday campaigns and the feedback so far has been very positive,” said Emily Pickett, Program Coordinator for the Vancouver Humane Society. “Students passionate about health and sustainability have been keen to introduce their peers to the delicious world of plant-based eating and Meatless Monday is a great way to do just that.”

In an effort to support the participating schools and to highlight the benefits of reducing our overconsumption of animal products, the cities of Vancouver, North Vancouver, New Westminster and Port Moody each passed proclamations earlier this month declaring Monday, May 15th as “Meatless Monday.”

All of this makes veg-friendly Vancouver the prime location for Canada’s first “Forward Food Culinary Training & Summit” and organizers are excited to help attendees get creative with plant-centred plates at this sold-out event.