ABOKICHI SANDWICH SHOP - TORONTO                            COOKING DEMO - 3:00

The Abokichi Story
In the early years of the 11th century, the world’s first psychological novel, The Tale of Genji, was written by lady Murasaki-Shikibu in Japan. In the story about a scandalous playboy, Prince Genji, there is a scene where party goers are served egg-shaped balls of rice. This is the first historical account of this convenient handheld food. The widely read publication sparked a boom in eating rice balls. They became common-place and people started calling them onigiri, literally, "hand-formed."

In the 17th century, the Edo-Genroku era, people were still making onigiri  as a convenient, ready-to-eat meal. Around this time, a sheet of toasted nori was added as a wrapper for onigiri, offering added nutrition and to prevent the sticky rice from messing up people’s hands. 

About 350 years later, Jess Mantell, a student from Canada, living in Tokyo, encountered onigiri for the first time. Being busy and low on funds, she could always turn to onigiri as a healthy and convenient snack or meal by visiting the ubiquitous convenience stores in the megalopolis. 

After returning to Canada, she had difficulty finding healthy, natural, and minimally processed food to eat on the run. She decided to introduce onigiri as a healthy option for busy people in Canada.  

While sourcing ingredients for onigiri, she made a vow to use haiga-mai, even though it is more difficult to source, for her onigiri to give customers food that is not only delicious, but that is more nutritious too. And so began another chapter of onigiri. 

Aside from promoting lesser known foods, Abokichi is dedicated to sharing the creativity which can emerge when different cultures interact. Abokichi means "Fortunate Avocado," a coinage from abokado, a South American fruit which has found a place in cuisines all over the world, and kichi which means fortunate in Japanese, to express the blessing of the diversity of different cultures in the world.

Mushroom Recipe Demonstrations

Guest chefs from the region will be invited to participate. Chefs will be provided all the mushrooms required from W & T Mushroom Ltd. and given the challenge of creating and demonstrating a unique mushroom recipe. Other ingredients called for in these recipes will be supplied by growers within a 100 km radius of Rockwood. Prepared food will be available for public tasting. 

Paul Mattina

Mattina’s Cucina Ristorante, Georgetown              Cooking Demo: 12:00


My name is Paul Mattina and I am currently the chef-owner, along with my wife, of Mattina’s Cucina in Georgetown Ontario. We have been serving Italian food since 1999. I have always had a love for cooking since I was very young. Like most chefs I started in the family kitchens, ours had two, the upstairs for the soup, pastas and cold items, and the downstairs for the big proteins and starches. After completing high school I continued my studies in the culinary arts at George Brown College in Hospitality Management, then went on to the Ontario Apprentice program to complete my hours at Fenton’s and Scaramouche in the mid 80’s. I have cooked on boats, trains and automobiles, private golf courses and outdoor venues for 1 to 1000. I have catered for weddings, happy family gatherings, and sad ones, and many others in my career, but food always brought people together. This is why I jumped at the opportunity to take part in the First Annual Rockwood Mushroom Festival. I currently reside in Rockwood Ontario with my family and some will know me as Mr. Magic at Rockwood Centennial where I supply teach on occasion. I received my OCT last year to pursue a new chapter in teaching Culinary Arts at the high school level. I started demonstrating healthy eating choices using Canada’s food guide with my son’s grade and then eventually it spread to others. For me teaching culinary arts and making healthy choices is as important as teaching someone to swim. With the growing number of choices to eat out there it can be difficult to make the right choice especially with time restraints (living with kids). At some point in our life we are going to be responsible for ourselves. We need to learn to eat “outside the box.” Healthy eating with some treats should be followed by activities to keep your heart rate up. For example, family walks a game of tag with the kids or man hunt which seems to be the game of the day around my neighbourhood. This will aid in living a healthier lifestyle maybe even some less visits to the doctor in our later years. The big reality is that healthy food is all around us and we just need to pick it and wash it, not just tear open and serve it. These are my personal views on eating healthy; this is why I became a chef. So come on out and join us for a day of great eating conversation and just being Canadian. Taste what our little community has to offer. You’d be surprised. I was!

Roger Dufau

Drew House Bed and Breakfast, Elora                  Cooking Demo: 1:30


A noted restauranteur and chef, Roger Dufau has owned and managed 16 restaurants and eateries on three continents, including Maison Basque in Toronto and Panache in Hobart, Tasmania. In 1968, he and his mother established the popular Le Petit Gourmet in Toronto.

Originally from the Basque region of France, Roger feels it is not only important to nourish the body, but also the spirit. He is a regular contributor to the Faith page of the Guelph Mercury.

He lives with his wife, Kathleen, in Elora, Ontario. Together they operate Drew House, a popular bed and breakfast known for hosting spiritual retreats, seminars, cooking classes and community events. He has one son, Olivier, who resides in British Columbia.

His first book, We are What We Think and What We Eat,

an autobiography, was published in 2013. Copies will be

available for purchase at the Rockwood Mushroom Fest.

“After all, eating unloved food is like living an unloved life.”

Yasser Qahawish

Artisanale, French Country Cooking, Guelph         Cooking Demo: 10:30

Artisanale’s lead chef and owner, Yasser Qahawish, spent many years working his way through some of the best kitchens in France and Toronto.

But, perhaps his largest influence was Madame Bregeon, a home cook from a small village in the Loire. Here, Yasser learned the delights of simple cooking with the freshest ingredients: tomatoes still warm from the sun, freshly washed green lettuce with simple shallot vinaigrette, crispy potatoes just dug from the earth, steamed fish pulled from the water that morning.

Yasser’s sophisticated but simple style is built around his philosophy: “a good cook knows how to find the best ingredients and lets them shine in a way that can make your heart sing.”

Yasser is best known as acclaimed chef of Osgoode Hall Restaurant at the Law Society of Upper Canada, which he turned into a sought-after lunch destination. He is passionate about French food and culture and has trained with top chefs in Toronto, Montréal and at several Michelin-rated restaurants in Europe and the US.

Link to A Wealth of Food and Family, Edible Toronto, Spring 2014