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Okanagan author cooks up worldwide attention

Black Press Food and Wine Trails editor Jennifer Schell’s book won best local cuisine book in Canada.  - Submitted Photo
Black Press Food and Wine Trails editor Jennifer Schell’s book won best local cuisine book in Canada.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

Okanagan food columnist and author Jennifer Schell has won an International Gourmand Cookbook Award for Best Local Cuisine Book in Canada.

Schell, who writer for Black Press and is the editor of Food and Wine Trails magazine, published The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker in 2012 and now it will go on to compete against winners in the same category from other countries for the title of best in the world.

“I had no idea the book would go this far. It was my expression for my love for our food and wine here in the Okanagan, especially the farmers,” said Schell. “It is a Canadian best-seller now, so it has sold over 5,000 copies and they are continuing to go.”

Results from the next stage in the Independent Publisher Book Awards will be announced on May 20 to 21 at the annual Gourmand World Cookbook Awards which is being held in Beijing. The panel judging the competition includes people from Italy and Paris.

“The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards are often compared to by journalists as the Oscars of the cookbook world and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be included in this prestigious affair,” said Schell, who is on her third pressing of the cookbook.

The cookbook is a celebration of Okanagan chefs, farmers, artisans and winemakers and shares not only recipes but also the stories of all of the passionate people behind the dish.

“With Food and Wine Trails magazine I work with many of these people and it just came together. It is like a diary or scrapbook of all the people I know and the success has been so wonderful. I have even had orders for the book from around the world.”

Schell said she has plans to create another book using the same idea but focusing on the Lower Mainland called The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker by the Sea that will tie back to the Okanagan with the winemakers. She would also like to make a second edition featuring Okanagan chefs, farmers, winemakers and artisans.

“Our province is so rich with amazing, passionate people and there are so many stories I want to share. People keep saying you should do a Prairie one and an East Coast one and I think right now people are really interested in meeting the people who are creating and growing their food. People are looking to their local producers and trust the face of their farmer and in the book you actually get to see pictures of who is behind the food,” said Schell.

Schell said she further developed so many relationships with Okanagan producers including Osoyoos chef and business owner Jorg Hoffmeister who operated Dolci Deli & Catering. Hoffmeister died suddenly on Dec. 3 at the age of 49, leaving behind his wife and business partner Annina and daughter Jennifer.

“He was just so awesome, what a character that was so full of life. He was so funny and it is really heartbreaking. I met him a couple of years ago and it was an instant friendship. They were such a loving, amazing couple,” said Schell.

The author, who met the couple while writing her newspaper column said Hoffmeister  was always ready with a joke and Schell was honoured to share his story through the pages of her cookbook.

“He was so excited about this book. He took it with him a few months ago to London, Germany and with famous chefs in Germany and Paris. He was so thrilled about telling his story of his family in the book,” said Schell. Doli Deli & Catering makes their own smoked meats and bacon

“His big thing was bacon and he would wear this shirt with the slogan, ‘you had me at bacon.’ I actually have two of them myself. He was so fun and such a character,” said Schell.

Read his family’s story and those of many more of Okanagan producers in The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker which is available online at www.anokanagancookbook.com, or visit the website for a list Okanagan retailers who sell the book.

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