Ilona Daniel is originally from Hamilton, Ontario, where she grew up admiring her mother’s cooking and love for it. After high school Ilona completed her undergrad at McMaster University with the intent of attending Law School and becoming a lawyer. Instead Ilona had a change of heart and followed her dreams of becoming a chef. She studied at Canadian Food and Wine Institute in Niagara, and then was offered a full scholarship for the Applied Degree in Culinary Operations at the Culinary Institute of Canada in Charlottetown. Upon the completion of her degree, she loved the Island too much to leave. 12 years later she calls PEI her home and is building her unique successful career in the Culinary/ Food industry in PEI.
Name: Chef Ilona Daniel
Occupation: I wear a few different hats! I own my own hospitality consulting firm, I am a proud chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of Canada, I’m the Regional Feature Food Writer for Saltwire Network and a Feature Contributor for CBC Radio.
What does your job entail?
Everyday is different! The main thread which ties all that I do is my passion and belief in the powerful and positive impacts healthy food has on our lives! I help people minimize risk in their foodservice operations, develop recipes, food styling and marketing strategies and approaches for clients. I also utilize sensory evaluations to assess client’s product offerings. When I’m teaching, I think that’s when I learn the most. Working with culinary students reminds me to always keep my sense of wonder for the industry alive. It is that wonder that keeps you in innovation mode.
How long have you been involved in agriculture\food industry on PEI?
I have been a part of the food industry here on the Island for 12 years.
Are you involved in any extracurricular or community activities?
I am on the board of directors for the Tourism Industry Association of PEI and am the chair of their membership committee. I like to volunteer with various grassroots, community building non-profit organizations. I especially love scooping ice cream for Children’s Wish Foundation at Old Home Week.
I’m also an avid gardener; I believe you can never grow enough flowers!
What would you want consumers to know about your business and the agriculture/food industry?
The people who grow and cook the food you love are deeply passionate about their craft. Their expertise spans generations, lifetimes and beyond. It’s so important to recognize their wisdom and experience and compensate them fairly and equitably. Their skills and practice are priceless. Also, we love to talk about what we do! Don’t be shy to ask a producer or a chef about what drives their passion!
Why do you do what you do?
I want to do my part and help enrich the community I am a part of. I want to inspire good food conversations that encourage people who don’t cook often, to try to cook for themselves a little bit more.