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Hitting them in the stomach

By Bob Vrbanac

Eat Waterloo Region sounds like something a lot of us have already been doing, as we visit local restaurants and farmers’ markets to taste the best of local produce.

But it’s also a new initiative launched by the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation to promote the trend of culinary tourism as a way of attracting new visitors to the area.

There’s a movement out there toward experiencing the culture of an area through its food.

In other words, the way to a tourist’s heart is through his or her stomach.

Waterloo Region is uniquely positioned to be a part of this movement with its strong link to locally produced food.

We already have Foodlink Waterloo Region, an organization that publishes maps and hosts events to highlight the fresh food options available.

The local festivals we have celebrate our agricultural heritage as well.

Oktoberfest put a new emphasis on food this year, in recognition that it is, traditionally, a harvest festival as well as a beer festival. Stein and Dine featured a multi-course Bavarian menu.

To better promote all the possibilities, the Waterloo Region tourism body launched a new website called Eat Waterloo Region Wednesday and highlighting certain culinary packages that will appeal to out- of-town visitors.
The website kick-off event took place at The Culinary Studio in Belmont Village.

“We’ve always heard about Toronto and Niagara as places for culinary tourism, but a lot of people haven’t heard about what Waterloo Region has to offer,” said Tracey Desjardins, general manager of Waterloo Region Tourism.

“There are a lot of options and we’re here to boast about that.”

They’ve already softened the ground by inviting influential food bloggers into the region and taking them on a tasting tour.

More foodies were invited to the kick-off to get a sampling from the Charcoal Steakhouse, Rushes Restaurant, The Walper and new chef Terry Salmond.

It also included the jewel in the local culinary crown — Langdon Hall,  which is internationally recognized in the Michelin Guide, one of the bibles of culinary tourism.

Kitchener Post food columnist Andrew Coppolino is involved in the online initiative,  hosting  video tours of some culinary stops.

Attracting people to Waterloo Region through food makes sense. We’ve all gotta eat, so we might as well do it well.

So check out eatwaterlooregion.ca, and bon appétit.

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