A recently launched hardcover cookbook filled with recipes and stories featuring the fishers and farmers of Prince Edward Island is already topping some book lists in Canada.
Canada's Food Island was developed by the Food Island Partnership, the Department of Fisheries, and various industry associations including the P.E.I. Potato Board and Lobster P.E.I.
It was launched Sept. 6 at the kickoff party for P.E.I.'s Fall Flavours festival.
"We really wanted to showcase to the world what makes us 'Canada's food island,' and really do something that every fisher, farmer, processor could be proud of," said Kaley Butler, executive editor of the book.
"We're so proud of our world-renowned food," said Crystal MacGregor, director of communications and marketing for the Food Island Partnership, calling the cookbook "a labour of love."
She pointed out that Prince Edward Island has the largest share of GDP coming from the food economy out of all the provinces in Canada. "We supply over 20,000 jobs directly and indirectly on the island."
'Eclectic' but user-friendly mix of dishes
Canada's Food Island contains stories and more than 100 recipes featuring the Island's main food products and exports— including potatoes, lobster, oysters, clams, mussels, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and sustainably raised beef.
Butler said the team worked with Island chefs, dietitians and recipe developers to come up with an "eclectic mix" of dishes — "everything from your turkey dinner or roast beef in the winter to potato chocolate cake to ... coconut Thai lobster tails."
They wanted to make the recipes as accessible as possible so that rookie chefs and seasoned foodies alike could enjoy the book.
"We tried to be very user-friendly," Butler said. "We spent a lot of time discussing with industries on the 'how to' pages, because not everybody's comfortable with shucking an oyster or a quahaug, or cooking a lobster at home or cooking a specific cut of beef, so we really wanted to give everyone the tools to be comfortable with our products in the kitchen."
We all know, being Islanders here, that everyone is welcome to our kitchen and everyone has a seat at our table. — Crystal MacGregor, Food Island Partnership
She said they also included a photo with every recipe, and kept the ingredient list as simple as possible — "stuff that you would for the most part have in your pantry."
Supporting P.E.I. food banks
MacGregor said the cookbook is really "a love story on Prince Edward Island," highlighting the Island's authentic and exceptional fishers, farmers and food products.
She also loves that royalties from the book will be sent to P.E.I. food banks.
"We know that there's a rising need for food security on the Island, and being Canada's food island, we wanted to give back and put food on people's tables," she said.
"So when you gift yourself this lovely book that's going to be treasured for years, you can also feel good that you're also giving back."
'Flying off the shelves'
So far, Canada's Food Island is a big hit.
"The first printing was over 5,000 books and they are just flying off the shelves," said MacGregor.
"We're delighted at how well it's going and at at this point we have to start looking at a reprint — already," said Butler. "In our first days, we were No.1 on Amazon for Canadian cookbooks and seafood cookbooks and top 10 for Indigo as well as part of Indigo's most anticipated Canadian releases list."
In addition to being sold at major retailers, some Island-owned shops will also be stocking the book, including the Bookmark and some decor stores.
Butler and MacGregor said they hope Canada's Food Island will prove to the rest of country, the United States, and the world that Prince Edward Island truly is a culinary destination.
"We all know, being Islanders here, that everyone is welcome to our kitchen and everyone has a seat at our table," said MacGregor.