5 Things we learned in 2016

2016 was a year of change and transition for many of us.  Niagara Culinary Tours saw lots of change, growth and explored some new ideas but most importantly we learned a few things.

1. Niagara is filled with so many good things to do!

January brought us the Niagara Icewine Festival and with it a fabulous weekend with friends to look back on.

There are so many things to do during icewine, you can’t just pick one!  Twenty Valley has their Winter Wine Fest complete with bands and barrel rolling!  Niagara on the Lake for  the Icewine Village with an ice bar and culinary partners, and Niagara Falls for their indoor event at the Scotiabank Convention Centre .

Once summer finally joined us the  NOTL Supper Market became a favourite with its casual, kick back, summer feel and good local food. It was so nice to listen to music, chat with friends and enjoy a little Niagara wine and food.

In 2016 we visited so many restaurants and wineries that we have lost count.  Each one provided us with a new experience.  We found a couple of new favourites to add to our growing list.  Most of all we just felt so fortunate to be part of Niagara’s pretty impressive culinary scene!

2. Work can be fun!

In 2016 we learned that indeed work can be fun. We worked hard and found that although our job is tough we have to find time to get it done. 2016 saw Steven being invited to taste for a new menu at a local restaurant and boutique hotel, the Old Stone Inn.

Top of my list was getting a chance to attend a top secret dinner hosted by Chef Kyle Paton of Grow and The Black Lodge with guest chefs, Chef Brandon Baltzley and the CRUX Collective. It was evening filled with delectable surprises in a vacant downtown St Catharines apartment.


In March we hosted an Eat What You Shoot workshop at Stratus Wines.  Jen Chan from Foodpr0n taught us lots of tips and tricks and Chef Jason Dobbie of the Oban Inn and Spa and Chef Catherine O’Donnell from Willow Cakes and Pastries provided the creativity to inspire us and Stratus provided the space with beautiful lighting and some wonderful wine.  After we were done we ate our props!

In April we did a bit of research and checked out Buffalo Bites, their East Aurora Tour with friends and we had the best day!  The guide was fantastic, the early spring weather was warm and the food was delicious.  All in a day’s work.

In November we co-hosted a sold out event, Good Afternoon Vietnam with Smokin Buddha and had an absolute blast! Who knew that cooking could be so much fun.  The team at the Buddha created quite a tasty learning experience.

To end out year we went to the premiere of Maddy Goes which saw Maddy leave NOTL for the culinary romance of Italy but to then come back and recreate the flavours and tastes here in Niagara. Can’t wait to see where this takes Maddy next!

3. We love meeting new people

Okay we probably knew this before but we really got to meet a lot of people this year. We hosted a number of FAM tours which brought media, journalists and travel professionals from all over the world. We had visitors this  year from India, China, Germany, U.K., United States, Canada, Australia and Korea.

As the season went on we started to get full tours and we met lots more people.  Even though we were really very busy we managed to fit in a couple of getaways.  We never stopped meeting new people and learning new things.


4. Niagara has some of the best people!

This is a lesson we learn over and over. Some of these people grow grapes, some make wine, some host you for a night’s stay, some create food that is out of this world and some love Niagara and share their enthusiasm within the tourism and hospitality industry.

They made us laugh and gave us themselves.  Whatever talent and magic they bring we love them all!!

Chefs Jason Dobbie and Catherine O’Donnell having a bit of fun in the kitchen at Stratus Wines during our Eat What You Shoot Workshop



5. We have learned to take better photos!

Although we don’t have a professional career in our future we can say that a new Nikon and the food photography workshop helped us a lot. This was a goal for us to try a little harder and produce some better images.  I am happy to say we did succeed.

Although 2016 is over, we take with it its’ teachings and hope that we can only continue to learn and explore Niagara in 2017.

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