By Melanie Ormston

Normally quiet at this hour of the morning, Veritas Restaurant on King Street East was bustling with the sort of excitement and anticipation usually felt by hungry customers waiting for one of Chef and co-owner Brad Long’s dishes.

Today marked the launch of Canon Canada’s 5th annual ‘Other Side of the Lens’ photo exhibit and charity fundraiser benefiting Food Banks Canada. Canon reached out to chefs all across Canada, challenging them to create images that capture this year’s theme, “Food for Thought.” Thirteen high-profile Canadian chefs stepped up to the plate (think dinner, not baseball) – and with a Canon PowerShot SD890 IS Digital Elph camera and six months to shoot, tackled the assignment with the same creative flair they’re famous for in the kitchen. You can view their photos online at

While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of being surrounded by celebrity chefs (like Chef Michael Smith, host of Chef Abroad and Chef at Large on the Food Network; Chef Susur Lee of Lee’s and Madeline’s in Toronto; and of course Chef Brad Long, owner of Veritas), the real reason everyone was there was clear – to raise funds and awareness for Food Banks Canada. With a significant increase in the number of people using food banks across Canada this year (37% are children) and Thanksgiving right around the corner, Canon Canada’s $25,000 donation to Food Banks Canada couldn’t have come at a better time.

The donation was made on behalf of the 13 celebrity chefs who participated in the ‘Other Side of the Lens’ program – some of whom, as you can imagine, had their doubts about taking on a new role as photographers. Chef Michael Smith put it best when he said, “I’m a cook, I’m a dad; I’m not Annie Leibovitz,” and then added “You get a good frame and Canon takes care of the rest.” Is he in any Canon commercials yet? If not, they’d better get on that. Even Wayne Doyle, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at Canon Canada Inc., agreed that “this was perhaps the best crop of images they’ve seen” since launching the photo exhibit and fundraiser five years ago.

It was clear that these talented chefs were as thrilled to be offered the opportunity to raise funds around hunger as Katharine Schmidt, Executive Director of Food Banks Canada, was to accept them. As the cheque presentation and speeches wrapped up, attendees spent their remaining moments in Veritas soaking up the vibrant, inspiring images and daintily helping themselves to the exquisite breakfast spread. What a perfect way to start the day – though returning to the office was the last thing on my mind after this!