This Saturday, June 14, Queen Street between East and Brock Streets will be alive with the fresh sights, smells, and sounds of a uniquely Algoma event.
Presented by the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), the first-ever Eat Algoma Local Food Festival celebrates the region's farm and food community from 3 to 8 p.m. as visitors shop from local producers, enjoy a variety of activities and live music, and put their tastebuds to the test during the Restaurant Food Challenge Competition.
For the Food Challenge, three Algoma farms have been paired with three Sault Ste. Marie restaurants and are tasked with creating the perfect pulled pork slider as judged by Eat Algoma visitors.
Sylvan Valley's Valleyfield Farm, owned and operated by Martti and Melanie Lemieux, has been paired with Embers Grill and Smokehouse for the competition.
"We raise Berkshire and Tamworth hogs, as well as a Berkshire and Tamworth cross," Martti Lemieux told SooToday.com. "These pigs are completely pasture-raised, and are 100 percent free-range."
What sets his pigs apart from others in the area, Lemieux said, is the hogs have a continuous supply of fresh pasture to graze on.
This means they'll not only eat grass, but also other legumes, clover, and the like.
"That hit of fresh pasture makes all the difference in the world in terms of the quality of the meat," he said.
Lemieux expressed his excitement at being paired with Embers and Chef Shayne Bell's authentic wood smoker for the Food Challenge.
"Getting that pasture-raise pork into an actual wood-fired smoker and having Shayne do his magic with it is going to be fantastic," Lemieux told us.
Curious as to what this Lemieux-Bell magic pairing will taste like?
The Restaurant Food Challenge Competition begins at 5 p.m. Saturday and also includes mouth-watering creations from Collholm Farm with Low & Slow, and Desbarats Country Produce with the Gnarly Bistro.
"The three restaurants involved are all very enthusiastic. They were chosen because they're either already sourcing locally, or they're enthusiastic about this type of initiative and we're excited to work with them," said event organizer Katie Filion during the Eat Algoma announcement in May.
Each $15 Food Challenge ticket gives participants three pulled pork sliders (one from each farm/restaurant pair), a side dish, and a ballot for the event's best entry.
A vegetarian ticket is also available for $15, and includes a hearty wrap from Café Natura and one side dish.
Food Challenge tickets are available only at area Scotiabank locations.
Eat Algoma agenda
- 3 to 6 p.m. - Local food and farm vendors, photo booth, kids zone, art exhibits, and live music
- 5 to 7 p.m. - Restaurant Food Challenge Competition (tickets required)
- 7 to 8 p.m. - Live music and the door prize draw for two round-trip tickets for anywhere Porter Airlines flies
For more information about the Eat Algoma Local Food Festival, please click here