Skip to content

CHEF'S TABLE: Maple syrup has 'special place in my heart'

'Maple syrup is something that I think we can all get behind as a Canadian icon,' says food columnist

“I happen to know everything there is to know about maple syrup! I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit in my hair when I've had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick?” — Vince Vaughn

This week has been bittersweet for me.

Bitter because it seems that winter just won’t give up, but sweet because we are right in the middle of maple sugaring time.

I have always had a special place in my heart for maple syrup.

As kids, we had been known to knock back a can over a couple days: A swig here, a swig there and next thing you know it's gone. It's a habit that got us lots of warnings about losing all of our teeth.

We have a lot of great memories of spending time with our grandparents, friends and family back at the sugar shack in Muskoka. All those great memories come flooding back with the first whiff of the sweet smell of maple sap in an evaporator pan. It takes straight back to all those wonderful early spring days in the sugar bush and time spent with family.

Maple syrup is something that I think we can all get behind as a Canadian icon.

With deep traditions rooted in the communities that share a love of the sweet treat and a history older than Canada itself it has become synonymous with our identity as a country.

At Georgian College, we are into our second season of sharing these traditions with our students. It’s a team effort on campus. Staff, students and faculty in our department all get the benefit of having our very own maple syrup production right on site. It’s great to be able to see people discover their own love for such an iconic piece of our Canadian culture.

At this time of year, there are so many ways to see and taste what’s cooking in the sugar shacks in and around Simcoe County.

Here are just a few of the ways that you can get out and explore and celebrate your love of maple syrup.

Tap Into Maple

Tap Into Maple hits the sweet spot! This is the final weekend to get out and celebrate all things maple in Orillia and Lake Country. Running until April 2, Tap Into Maple is an opportunity to visit the region’s maple syrup producers, enjoy special maple-themed experiences and indulge in local maple-inspired cuisine.

This year’s program has 20 participating locations, including 10 maple producers offering an array of sugar bush experiences.

Self-guided tours will give you an up-close view of the maple syrup process. Additionally, experience the many ways maple is celebrated by shopping for maple products, enjoying a maple-infused craft brew or dining out on maple featured menus at one of the many locations participating.

Maple Weekend

The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association hosts Ontario Maple Weekend the first weekend in April every year. Maple Weekend is a great opportunity for you to get up close to a local maple syrup producer and see first-hand how maple syrup is made.

Participating producers can be found across the province, and they will be opening their doors to give consumers an opportunity to learn more about the craft of maple sugar making.

Producers are expected to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the traditions of maple sugaring and an opportunity to taste why pure Ontario maple syrup has long been a favourite springtime treat.

Check out their website for participating members listings to see what specific activities they are offering on Maple Weekend. There you will find links to a variety of festival events.

Spring Tonic Maple Syrup Festival

Hosted by the Rotary Club of Barrie, the Spring Tonic​ Maple Syrup Festival​ at the Tiffin Centre for Conservation is a tradition spanning more than three decades. ​It takes place April 1 and 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Take a trip back in time and explore how Indigenous people ​and pioneers made maple syrup. Then see how maple syrup is made today!

End your tour and stop by to say hello to the Rotary volunteers and enjoy the outstanding pancake and sausage breakfast with fresh maple syrup they put together​. ​

Other activities on site include horse-drawn wagon rides, ​the Zoo to You animal show and visits with firefighters.

So much to see and do in our region this weekend. I hope you get a chance to get out and find that sweet stuff.

And when you do manage to get yourself a bottle or two, here is a recipe from a friend of mine that I think you’ll enjoy.

Poor man's pudding cake (Pouding Chomeur)

This is a traditional French-Canadian recipe, serving six people, that's very common in Quebec. It's a syrupy "pudding" with a cake-like topping — very sweet and a great way to enjoy the taste of maple! Perfect for those cold early spring days, and even better served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.



1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup milk


1 cup maple syrup (I prefer the darker for this)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water, boiling

1/4 cup butter


1. Pre-heat the oven at 325°F.

2. Sift together the flour and the baking powder. Put aside.

3. In a bowl, cream the butter or margarine. Slowly add sugar until a smooth consistency.

4. Slowly add one-quarter of the milk with the sugar with the egg and the vanilla. Repeat until all is mixed.

5. Using butter or margarine, grease the 9x13 baking dish. Pour in the dough in. Put aside.

6. In a pan, mix all the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil for a moment.

7. Pour the sauce on the dough. Do not mix.

8. Cook at 350°F for 45 minutes.


Reader Feedback

Daniel Clements

About the Author: Daniel Clements

In his bi-weekly Chef's Table column, Daniel will be looking at everything from local crops and trends in the business to seasonal delights and the local restaurant scene
Read more