Eating through The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair 2

From locally-made salt-water taffy to hand-pulled pork shoulder, visitors are getting more than a taste of the lives of Canadian breeders, growers, and agricultural exhibitors.

“Five years ago, one would have never imagined ‘Cowboy Fries’ offered for sale at The Royal,” said Frank Caputo, vendor and owner of Toronto food truck, “Hank Daddy.”

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, taking place at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place until Nov. 11, is quickly becoming a destination for lovers of all things food.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair - Chefs Competition

Courtesy Scott Vivian, Beast Restaurant – https://twitter.com/BeastRestaurant

Vendors on hand are highlighting out-of-the-ordinary food items – often available only in specialty shops – and you can sample your way through a plethora of vendors serving up everything from succulent barbequed meat, to gourmet confectionary, to fresh-to-order hot apple dumplings.

Caputo’s number-one offering, the “Pulled Pork Parfait,” is made with crispy sweet potato fries, soft-pulled pork, and a crunchy cabbage slaw – a dish he and his daughter created four years ago.

For Caputo, this is only the first step in bringing more gourmet food trucks to the streets of Toronto.

“Demonstrating the passion we put into our food to the thousands who come through The Royal – even if it’s served from a food truck – is crucial in changing the way Torontonians consume street food.”

Jordan McLelland and his seven-year-old daughter have visited The Royal for the past three years.

“I’ve never seen so much focus on the show for ‘foodies,’” McLelland said.  “I knew there was a ‘food truck revolution’ happening all over the U.S. and Canada, but seeing so much food highlighted at The Royal this year is surprising.”

New this year to celebrate the show’s 90th anniversary, Food Network celebrity chef Curtis Stone will be hosting the Chefs Competition taking place Saturday at the Royal Culinary Theatre.

Food Network personalities Bob Blumer (World’s Weirdest Restaurants) and Kevin Brauch (The Thirsty Traveler) hosted the Royal Mixology Competition Monday, pitting local mixologists against one another in a competition for top cocktail made with Ontario ingredients.

“Food is a large part of The Royal’s history, and business is booming,” said Carl Marquardt, a confectioner who has been at The Royal for 30 years.  “The new competitions and wild culinary offerings this year only solidify what is already an exploding ‘foodie’ culture.”

U R What U Tweet: 5 Steps To A Better Personal Brand – Fast Company

If you take a look at the top 10 Twitter users you’ll see a list of famous men and women, from Justin Bieber to Selena Gomez, who have used the popular platform to further expand their personal brands. Perhaps more interesting, however, is how everyday people are investing more time and energy into social networking for professional purposes.

A couple years ago, a local student emailed me out of the blue, proposing that he join me as a guest on a TV show I host. Winston Sih didn’t send along a resume, but instead included links to his websiteTwitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. While there are plenty of examples of teens jeopardizing their digital reputation, with bullying and threats on friends’ walls or late-night “I hate my job” tweets, Sih is a perfect example of someone who has learned how to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive personal brand before he even reaches his adult years (months into his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech TV expert and blogger).

While few of us will ever have the celebrity factor to drive our online networks (or a PR spin team to protect us if we post something stupid), there is a lot we can learn from Sih and other personal brand-builders. In 2012, if you have a plan in place, smart social networking is the key to taking control of your professional life. Here are 5 steps to building a better personal brand online.

1. Have a home base online.  While Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are excellent destinations to promote what you do, make sure that you also invest time and energy into your own personal website. Whether you take advantage of easy-to-use tools such as Squarespace or WordPress, a simple and clean online home for all your professional information and social streams is a necessity. Not only is it critical to build this home base, but it’s also important to drive traffic back to this site to further educate visitors about what you do (or want to do) for a living. Finally, use a professional headshot on your site to give you that competitive edge (sorry–a cropped Facebook photo just won’t do!).

2. Be a better blogger.  Although online pundits regularly declare that blogging is dead, such as Jason Calacanis did at a tech conference towards the end of December, blogging has simply become much more diverse. It’s no longer necessary to write multi-paragraph posts, but instead services such as Tumblr make it easy for individuals to share shorter entries or snippets of text that often include photos and other multimedia. A weekly blog update (or more frequent if you can afford the time) that includes some shareable content is a useful way to drive traffic back from social channels to your website (and to establish yourself as an expert on a topic).

3. Avoid mobile mistakes.  In April 2009, we often referred to Ashton Kutcher as the King of Twitter. This past November, the actor posted a tweet defending Penn State’s Joe Paterno (without realizing the sex abuse controversy surrounding the coach) that inspired a “hailstorm of responses” from Kutcher’s many followers. Once again, this was an example of how 140 characters or less can immediately damage someone’s reputation. Moreover, with more people posting from mobile phones, it’s far too easy to make a real-time mistake like this–whether it’s updating your status with an inappropriate comment or letting auto-correct do some digital damage. In other words, when networking on the go make sure you carefully review what you’re about to push live or, perhaps a better idea, wait until you have a few minutes to review the update without so many mobile distractions.

4. Never stop networking.  For non-celebrities who build themselves into well-known brands online, take a look at how frequently they interact. For example, social media author Scott Stratten has tweeted more than 80,000 times. If he’s not sharing digital wisdom across his many online channels, he’s responding to messages and reaching out to people to keep the web conversation going. If you don’t know where to start, whether it’s on LinkedIn or Twitter, find five new people to follow or connect with every day. Make an effort to share something these people have posted or, a simple task, reach out and say hello.

5. Adopt new services.  When it comes to personal branding, there is a lot of emphasis on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but there are plenty of other channels to tell your story. Take a look at how well author Timothy Ferris has used short YouTube videos to promote his 4-Hour mantra and other activities. Google+ is a solid new service for building a personal brand and apps, such as Path, will also allow you to network with people you care about connecting with on a professional level (keep in mind that the latter has a 150-friend limit). While it’s not critical to jump on every newly launched service, it can help to choose two or three of the most popular services and then every few months try a new platform on for size.

Read more from the Work Flow series

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[Image: Flickr user Joshua Hoffman]

Repost from FastCompany.com via Amber MacArthur

The Digital (Foodie) Life – Untourist App (Part 2 of 5) – The Digital Life

The truth is, I’ve always had a secret passion for food.I’m often cruising through cook books, trying new restaurants, and discovering new cooking shows!  This CityLine blog has often been very technology-oriented, but living “The Digital Life” doesn’t always have to be “geeky.”

We live in a world of blogs, apps, smartphones, and there’s literally something for everyone!  In my online travels, I stumbled upon Andrew Dobson, a self-proclaimed “Professional Foodie,” based out of Toronto.  In the last installment of the five-part series I call “The Digital (Foodie) Life,”  I got the opportunity to chat with the founder of the dobbernationLOVES blog, and talk about what inspired him to create it!

Continuing with our food and tech theme, I spoke to Dobson about one of his top recommended apps when it comes to traveling and dining abroad.

“This past weekend I spent my Saturday afternoon using the ‘G Adventures Untourist’ App on my new iPhone 4S.  As you can imagine, I am borderline obsessive about the restaurants I visit when on vacation.”

Dobson isn’t kidding when he refers to himself as “borderline obsessive.”  He tells me he typically sets up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet outlining each day of his trip, and slots in well-researched recommendations for each day’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and late evening watering holes.

“‘The Untourist App’ is on my list of “go to” resources before departure,” he adds.  The application is built on recommendations from the “G Adventures” Worldwide network of CEOs.  The term, “CEOs” refers to “Chief Experience Officers.”

Untourist highlights over 1700 must-try culinary experiences and off-the-beaten path restaurants that make travel worthwhile.

Dobson boasts its friendly user experience.  “Just tell it where you are, and Untourist will plot location-specific suggestions on a local map for you. Whether you’re preparing for your next adventure abroad, or just window-shopping from the comfort of your couch, Untourist puts the whole planet at your fingertips.”

From there, you are able to read reviews of local restaurants submitted by the globetrotting travel experts at G Adventures.  The application features several of Dobson’s own reviews from around the world.  Whether you are on a business trip, planning a family holiday, or sitting at home with a craving for the best restaurants around, use the Untourist App to satiate your cravings.

In the next installment of “The Digital (Foodie) Life,” we’ll explore the trend of “restaurant video-blogging,” and how you can hop on the bandwagon.

Have a question for the blog?  Send me an email, me@winstonsih.com, or send me a Tweet, @WinstonSih is the place to go!

Repost from CityLine.ca

The Digital (Foodie) Life – Introduction (Part 1 of 5) – The Digital Life

The truth is, I’ve always had a secret passion for food.  I’m often cruising through cookbooks, trying new restaurants, and discovering new cooking shows!  This CityLine blog has often been very technology-oriented, but living “The Digital Life” doesn’t always have to be “geeky.”

We live in a world of blogs, apps, smartphones, and there’s literally something for everyone!  In my online travels, I stumbled upon Andrew Dobson, a self-proclaimed “Professional Foodie,” based out of Toronto.  In this installment of the five-part series I call “The Digital (Foodie) Life,”  I get the opportunity to chat with the founder of the dobbernationLOVES blog, and talk about what inspired him to create it!

“I graduated from the University of Guelph’s Hotel and Food Administration program at the top of my class, was awarded 18 Provincial and National scholarships, and I felt at this point in my life I had a spotlight burning on my forehead. Everyone with bated breath was wondering, ‘What will he do next?’”

Dobson had a desire to wander off the beaten path.  University not only taught him the essential academics, but it also taught him that he had a new-found passion for travel.  He tells me that he caught the wanderlust bug in his 3rd year of studies when he found himself backpacking through 17 countries in Europe for his 4th year dissertation on “Global Culinary Tourism.”

“It was during this solo backpacking trip that I started to become obsessed with documenting everything I ate, every art gallery I visited, and the exact minute my train left the station. It was in the summer of 2007 that I realized I was a naturally-born blogger.”

He realized that his travels over the past three years documenting culture and food would easily translate into a lifestyle blog showcasing the best that Toronto has to offer.

“I eat out at restaurants up to seven times a week and visit as many showy events in the city that catch my eye. I view the city as an ever-evolving foreign space, and my goal is to showcase all of its odds and ends in its entirety!”

From there, the blog dobbernationLOVES was conceptualized – “Dobber” being his nickname; and “nation” being the inspiration to create an online community.  In his words, it is now “an encyclopedia of everything that I love. It features all of my travel writing and photography, over 300 local restaurant reviews, events, food and beverage reviews, as well as odd ramblings.”

Dobson is an everyday Canadian who empowers the web and social media space to showcase his passion for lifestyle, food, and travel.  Twitter plays an integral part as he reaches out to his audience to gage what interests them, and what or where he’ll be reviewing next.

When Dobson first went backpacking in Europe, he wrote in two paper journals.  Today as a professional food blogger, he takes his MacBook Pro and smartphone to document his journeys.  Using the Wi-Fi connections readily available, he posts blogs, Tweets, and shares his reviews on Facebook.

He tells me that Twitter enables him to ensure that “the conversation goes both ways and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how handy it can be, for example, to have a travel and food expert at your fingertips.”

In the next installment of “The Digital (Foodie) Life,” we’ll dive right in and I’ll talk to Andrew Dobson about his iPhone app suggestion to find great restaurant reviews all over the world!  

Have a question for the blog?  Send me an email, me@winstonsih.com, or send me a Tweet, @WinstonSih is the place to go!

Repost from CityLine.ca