Volunteering at Cheese Festival: Memorable in many ways

Meet Mike and Helena Litherland, two of the many volunteers who help the annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival run so smoothly. It’s not too late to sign up as a volunteer for this year’s Festival next weekend. Just click here.

Questions asked, answers provided by Mark:

Do you like cheese?

Do we like cheese? No, we love cheese! I was (Mark) lucky to have been exposed to great Canadian cheeses when I worked for an Ontario winery in the 1990s. During that time I knew that Quebec produced a diverse range of cheeses but what I did not expect was the variety and quality of cheeses from other areas of Canada like Manitoba, Ontario and BC. When Helena and I have visited Europe, Mexico and North Africa, each time we have experienced new types and flavours of cheese. This exposure to cheese has encourage us to seek out equally great and diverse Canadian cheeses. In addition, I have taken a number of culinary courses and this in turn has broadened my experiences in cheese heaven.

Why did you volunteer?

I truly believe that Canada can and does produce great culinary treasures and the best way to experience these is by seeking out opportunities to be exposed, not only to the products, but the individuals who have produced them. Fine food is like a great book. There is always an interesting story to tell. Knowing the story increases my appreciation for the product and enables me to be a fellow ambassador. I am a proud Canadian who has a strong interest in all foods, cheese just happens to be one of my favourites. Volunteering allows me to be side by side with the individuals and companies that are creating this new found confidence and appreciation  of Canadian cuisine. Lastly, I always get more out of volunteering than I give and feel good that I have helped my community.

What tasks were you given?

Helena and I were assigned to assist with registration at the entrance initially. Before long, weassisted in the setup for lunch and seminars about cheese. There were three keynote speakers and we distributed their respective cheeses. Later on that day we each had the opportunity to help at an additional cheese seminar which had specific themes.

What did you get out of the experience?

I took away an increased sense of awareness, appreciation and education for Canada cheese, wine and the culinary capabilities of our chefs. The exposure to these great products only drives me to seek out additional quality products created right here in our own backyard of Canada. It is always great fun to meet similar-minded people.

The second annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival takes place June 1-3 in Picton, Prince Edward County, Ontario’s fastest growing food-and-drink destination.

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