Meredith Erickson’s new podcast explores the flavours of Canada


Host and author Meredith Erickson serves up a culinary adventure with the Field Guide to Eating in Canada.

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Meredith Erickson wouldn’t call herself the Stanley Tucci of Canada.

But, if the comparison were to be made by someone else? Well, she would happily take it.

“I’m not going to say no,” Erickson says with a raucous laugh. “And, if I see it in print, I’m not going to be angry.”

Interestingly, Erickson harbours a tie to Tucci. The actor wrote a “blurb” for her cookbook, Alpine Cooking, after a chance meeting at a party in London, England, saw her send him an advance copy of the book.

“It was really amazing,” Erickson says.

Much like the Hollywood actor’s hit TV show, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, which sees him traverse the cities and towns of the country searching out the best spots for delicious dishes, Erickson’s latest project sees her doing much of the same.

But in her home country of Canada.

Titled Field Guide to Eating in Canada, the new Canadian Audible Originals podcast takes listeners on a cross-Canada road trip in order to meet some of the country’s most innovative food producers.


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“The idea is that if your best friend … were to say to you, I have a limited budget and I want to go from St. John’s to Salt Spring, and I want to meet the key people along the way where I can have the most delicious road trip of my life, I want you to be able to send them this podcast for them to have that information,” the Montreal native explains.

Speaking from Milan, where she’s living with her partner, is eight months’ pregnant and is finishing up a book about northern Italy — “I’m a productive person,” she says with a laugh — Erickson explained how the project came about.

After wrapping up her time living in the Alps for her previous book, she was contacted by the Audible team to see if she had any ideas for a podcast series.

Turns out, she did.

“I was like, ‘I want to do what I did with the Alps — but with Canada,’ ” Erickson says.

The process, she imagined, would take years. Much longer than a podcast production timeline might allow for.

“Canada is massive. And, the only way to attack it is one, digestible piece at a time and we need to be strategic,” Erickson recalls thinking, noting that she created a list of the places she would want to visit and the people she would want to focus on. “I didn’t want the focus to be on chefs and restaurants, but rather farmers and a lot of agriculture, fishermen, bakers, winegrowers, etc. These people deserve that focus and deserve that time.”

No stranger to the restaurant setting — Erickson started her career in the industry with Joe Beef in Montreal — she was eager to shine a light on other areas of the Canadian food scene beyond that realm.


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“I think we are an agriculture country. We are built on farming. We have a lot of land, and we have fewer people,” Erickson says. “And … getting people — especially with COVID, which was a complete byproduct — to start thinking about food security for ourselves, was something that I really wanted to focus on.”

The Audible team responded to her idea with a resounding, ‘Yes’.

So, Erickson flew back from Italy and planning commenced for a Field Guide to Canada in February 2020. Then, the global pandemic happened.

Rather than halt the planning process entirely, Erickson began doing “reconnaissance” for her upcoming cross-Canada culinary adventure. It was a step that, in retrospect, she says was “really needed.”

“It enabled us to tighten the focus and laser in a little bit on where we wanted to go,” Erickson recalls.

As soon as restrictions eased, Erickson and her team hit the road.

“It wasn’t like a beginning-to-end, three week thing,” Erickson says of the trip that consisted of mostly driving and one round-trip flight to Vancouver. “It was all about restrictions and doing what was safe.”

Her travels took her to a handful of B.C. establishments including HK BBQ, Jade Seafood, Wu Fung Desserts, Salt Spring Sea Salt and Francis Bread, each of which is featured in the two B.C. episodes: Richmond: Just Don’t Call it China Town, which explores the “endless” options for Chinese fare in the coastal city; and The Makers of Salt Spring Island, B.C., a nod to the unique finds one can discover on the Gulf Island.


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“I came to Richmond, not knowing at all what to expect, and I was like completely blown away by that community. By HK BBQ and the people that run it. By that hard-working ethos,” Erickson says. “And then, a day later, going to Salt Spring — completely different energy.”

Her brief experience in B.C. left her eager to return to the province for another season.

(Left to right): Meredith Erickson, David Chung and Alex Chen at David’s restaurant Jade Seafood.
(Left to right): Meredith Erickson, David Chung and Alex Chen at David’s restaurant Jade Seafood. Audible Canada

“There’s so much diversity with what you have there in one province that I would love to do a season of 10 episodes up-and-down,” Erickson says.

That affection for each destination, and a resulting desire to explore it in more depth, was a constant theme during her travels.

“Every place we went, I was like, ‘This is my favourite,’ ” she says. “After I finished, I feel more in love with Canada, as a Canadian. But also like, holy s–t, I have so much more to learn.

“The more people you meet and the more places you go, the more humbling an experience it is. You really feel like you know nothing.”

Another common thread discovered throughout the experience involved the attitudes of the diverse personalities that she interviewed along the way.

“Kindness and openness was the thread of continuity throughout,” Erickson says. “People were so excited to share their story. Because, I don’t think there are a lot of knocks on those doors.”

The chance to share their unique perspective through a medium that’s new to Erickson played perfectly into her passion for storytelling, and food, but most of all — for people.

“For me, it’s about the food, but it’s always about the people. I love a great meal in a beautiful restaurant — but it’s nothing without the people that you’re with,” Erickson says. “There’s something about people who work in the restaurant and food industry and in agriculture that I just relate to. It’s really salt-of-the-earth.

“These are tangible people and stories with very real ups-and-downs. And that’s what I’m drawn to.”


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