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Anna Olson  

Culinary Master and Host of the Food Network's Fresh with Anna Olson

Anna moved to Niagara in 1995, eager for change from her role as a chef in the fast paced restaurant life of New Orleans - Canada was calling her home.

It was here that she met her husband and business partner Michael Olson at Inn on the Twenty, in Jordan Ontario, considered Ontario's premier winery restaurant, located in the midst of prime Niagara farm and wine country. Anna embraced the bounties of the local growers, changing menus seasonally and using only the freshest ingredients possible in the role of pastry chef. A good friend of Anna's recalls her first encounter. "Anna was returning from a visit to a local grower, when strawberries were in season. She had this huge smile on her face, as she brought in the season's first strawberries, as excited as a child at Christmas." Anna's friend, Tracy expands, "It was at that moment that I realized how passionate Anna is about food, especially food that is grown locally."

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Anna moved to Toronto, Ontario with her family when she was six. Anna has fond memories of yearly trips from Toronto to New York State, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to visit her grandparents, aunts and uncles, traveling through Niagara's fruit belt and the orchards bordering the route. The family would regularly make stops at farmer's fruit stands to pick up fresh goodies for the relatives.

Anna's family is of Eastern European heritage and baking and cooking has always been at the heart of every family gathering. It is within these family occasions, respecting tradition, that Anna first gained a love and appreciation for both baking and cooking. These childhood memories and experiences invoke the inspirations we see today in so many of her recipes.

Anna comes by her creativity honestly; her Dad is a graphic artist who taught for many years at York University in Toronto. Using food as her creative medium, Anna starts with ingredients that "sound good" or "delicious", then works her way back, creating the components within the recipe body to get to the yummy end result. Recipe development is one of her great accomplishments, with six successful cookbook publications to her name and “Back to Baking” due out in Autumn 2011.  Entering a new realm of media, Anna & Michael launched the “Olson Recipe Generator” app for iPhone and iPad in spring 2011.

Anna embraces her artistic talents with every new challenge.
With her husband Michael by her side, Anna enjoys traveling and exploring other countries for exciting new ideas and flavors. Most recently, they had the pleasure to visit Italy and Southeast Asia. If you ask to see photos from any vacation be prepared to get hungry - they tend to take more photographs of their meals than of the sites!

The couple currently resides in a beautiful historic home in the heart of Niagara, dated back to the 1860's. It is here that she taped her successful program "Fresh with Anna Olson", tantalizing our senses and taste buds with each recipe she prepared.

Anna truly enjoys life, saying "the favourite part of my job is that it never feels like work". She spends any spare time she has with family and friends. She loves to shop with her mother Donna, while her step-daughter Mika keeps her young at heart. Anna and Michael's beloved beagle, Oscar gives her the quality lap-dog therapy that is just so relaxing at the end of a long day.

While people may think of Anna as a "celebrity chef", she is incredibly humble about her accomplishments, and is extremely generous and kind, giving back to many local charities, and enjoys visiting the local library of any new town or city she visits.

  1. A Culinary Adventure Close to Home

Celebrity Chef Anna Olson will share with you her culinary journey, sharing her personal story as she found herself through cooking for others.  Tales of people and places that inspired her are peppered with humorous anecdotes of challenges with the ultimate result of Anna finding her way back to where she started, appreciating and valuing what is in her own backyard.  Anna has a full inventory of recipe tips to provide, geared towards a common sense approach to shopping locally and cooking with the seasons.  The practical advice, recipes, and friendly conversation will have you feeling like you just spent some time with a good friend.

  1. PRESENTATIONS by ANNA OLSON

Anna Olson is pleased to customize any of her presentations to suit the group to whom she is speaking, and can happily consider break-out sessions, small session demos and other activities in addition to those listed below.

Anna has a AV support materials to make for rich presentations and also can offer signed cookbooks for guests, either by pre-order or on-site sales.

KEYNOTE SPEAKING

Anna likes to entertain and enlighten as she speaks to groups from 25 to over 400 guests. Her presentation, while organized and thematic, is very conversational, and Anna's approachable warms a crowd. Be sure to leave time for Q&A - Anna likes to answer questions on stage and off.

Such topics may include:

"In Good Taste" – a look at Anna's culinary journey, her initial inspirations, mentors as well as tales of cookbook writing and food television. This is the most popular topic choice, as it suits a wide demographic.

"A Tasty Brand" – Anna addresses the contemporary need to not just "have" a brand, but to "be" a brand, in any field. Since everyone enjoys eating, guests from any background can relate and connect with Anna's culinary analogies.

"A Balanced Plate" – Like most, Anna juggles a busy and varied schedule. She shares her insights for cooking and eating well during these busy times. She draws on endearing stories and real-life examples to make her point.

"Eat Fresh, Eat Local" – Anna speaks on the topic of local and seasonal cooking, drawing on the resources of her home region of Niagara. No matter where you live, there are innovative ways to support the local food movement in a reasonable, accessible and affordable way.

COOKING DEMONSTRATIONS

Anna is happy to perform cooking demonstrations where facilities permit and are available. Anna can create custom presentation to appeal the guests in attendance, and enjoys showcasing dishes that use ingredients of the season, and locally sourced when possible. She engages her group with fragrant smells, can facilitate sampling and often gets guests on stage with her cooking.

Anna has worked with catering operations to integrate the dishes she demonstrates into part of the event's meals, and can provide written copies of the recipes for the host's reproduction.

EMCEE/HOST SERVICES

Anna can well represent herself and your organization as host of your next gala, awards dinner or charitable event. She has hosted numerous events from casual to black tie, can keep an event on schedule, and also drum up enthusiastic bidding for live auctions.

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