Food writer Andrew Coppolino loves eating and cooking. No big surprise there, but he also likes thinking and talking about where food comes from, how we consume it and how we can make our food culture more sustainable. His philosophy is that everyone has to eat and food can help build a better community.
For several years, Andrew wrote restaurant reviews for The Waterloo Region Record and Echo Weekly, but took an atypical approach. Seeing beyond the meal served to him and the service he received, he focused on the restaurant’s niche, how a particular dish was made and why it was important to its cultural origins.
Buoyed by the positive feedback he received, he embraced his role as a local food ambassador and became a “culinary correspondent” for TV and radio. He hosted food shows on both 570 News and Rogers TV, giving a behind-the-scenes look at local chefs and food producers to showcase where our food came from and how it was made.
Now on his website Waterloo Region Eats, Andrew writes reviews, profiles farmers and food artisans and posts illustrative videos (such as the best way to chop up a chicken—thanks for those visuals) to engage people in a conversation about food and food culture.
Taking Waterloo Region Eats to a more literal extension, he and community activist James Howe, created an informal community dining group, Kitchener Eats. They take eager diners to culturally diverse restaurants to help people experiment with different kinds of food. As an added bonus, Andrew gets the owners or chefs to tell the diners what they love about the food they prepare and why it is important to their culture.
Andrew is a passionate guy, seeing opportunities and connections at every turn. And now he is focusing his energies on a new project: Rare Republic. He hopes this grassroots, online community will bring together farmers, producers, suppliers, restaurateurs, chefs and people who like to eat (hey, that’s everyone) to have meaningful conversations about safe and healthy food. He believes Waterloo Region is uniquely positioned to be a food culture leader in Ontario and is optimistic Rare Republic will help create a robust and sustainable food system in our community.
P.S. Andrew’s favourite topic of conversation: cooking.