Four hundred years ago, when Samuel de Champlain arrived on the scene, he found more than green mountains and lapping water. The natives offered novel fare that appealed to French palates, and the resulting fusion gave birth to new Vermont and Québecois cuisines. From July 8 to 12, as part of Burlington’s quadricentennial celebration, the Taste of Champlain Food Festival will celebrate unique local cookery and the traditions that influenced it.
On the evening of July 9, The Essex will host a dinner featuring French and Vermont chefs “collaborating on seasonal créations culinaires.” The same evening, Chef Shannon Reilly of Magnolia Bistro will keep things decidedly more homegrown with a Native American community dinner showcasing wild edibles. On Québec Day, July 10, organizers hope to lure a superstar Montréal chef to town. Other scheduled events include specialty-foods markets, lessons on the gardens of the Abenaki, and forums on the future of Vermont food.
That same week, a handful of local chefs will cross the pond — that is, the Atlantic — bearing ice cider, maple syrup and a selection of Vermont’s wild foods. In Dijon, France, they will participate in the “4/14” festival, celebrating both the U.S. and French days of independence. Of the 10 cuisiniers representing America, half — Peter Pryor and Michael Gunyan of NECI, Kirk and Katie Fiori from Sugarsnap and Amy Chamberlain of The Perfect Wife — are from Vermont.