Foodie Adventure: Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassador!

I’ve been teasing some of you with a “new sponsored foodie adventure” and I’m excited to finally able to reveal what is up!

I have been invited to be one of Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassadors!

Along with Joel Solish of communityfoodist.com I will be getting an insiders view of Longo’s, their Taste Ontario program, their stores and their long standing relationships within the Ontario food community, and share it with my friends and readers.

What does that “sponsored foodie adventure” actually mean?

As I said, this is a sponsored foodie adventure, that means that Longo’s is giving me a $150 gift card for Longo’s stores every month.  Fruit @ Longo's

With that gift card I’ll be exploring their Ontario produce (peaches, corn, tomatoes), meats (lamb, pork, chicken), seafood (wild pickerel is available right now), some of the Longo’s specialty products (prepared and quick-to-prepare meals), and of course occasionally standard supplies because we all need that kind of thing (balsamic vinegar, toilet paper, Doritos.) Longo’s will also be paying for transportation to any Field Trips  I tag along on.

I’m also hoping to find some ways so you can try the products and produce I’m talking about too – this will hopefully include giveaways.

It’s important (to me) to point out that in the very first conversation I had with Longo’s PR agency I said I won’t be a shill and I will be honest about my experiences with full disclosure (read my Disclosure Statement here). I have been very clear that I’ll be writing about the stuff I see, taste and experience that I find interesting, remarkable and of interest to you.  I was told that this is exactly why they wanted me to participate and I know the same is true for Joel.

Why I’m excited about this:

Let’s start with the fact that I’m a fan of Longo’s.  I like the range and freshness of their produce and the fact that they always have something interesting and new for me to check out. Discovering new produce is a special joy for me, since I grew up on a farm & selling organic vegetables. (Though don’t introduce me to a new parsnip… that won’t go well.) Longo’s has a wonderfully stocked selection of Canadian cheeses and some very interesting solutions for prepared and quick-to-prepare meals for those of us who are in a rush.

Longo's Food ExpertsI’m a fan of the people.  I’ve met and chatted with some of their Food Experts at PR launches for new Longo’s locations in the core – Dundas & Elizabeth, Maple Leaf Square.

Those chats have resulted in a number of lively conversations (which we all know I like) as we talked about their departments, suppliers, backgrounds and love of food. I’ve always walked away learning about a new food or food in a new way.  I’m excited about the possibility of getting insider access to talk to them about food, trends and some of their favourite things.

Finally, I’m a fan of farms and food-focused field trips.  One of the cool things Longo’s does is send it’s staff on regular Field Trips to farms and manufacturers. I love the idea that any grocery store would send their staff to the fields so they can talk credibly about what they are selling. And not just senior staff but the people stocking the  shelves.  In fact, 3 summers ago I was at True North Salmon in Blacks Harbour for a tour of their salmon farm and I found out that just days later a big Longo’s contingent arrived for a multi-day tour.  I’m hoping that I will be able to join in on at least one of the Longo’s Field Trips.

Why they’re excited about this:

Longo’s is in the midst of their Taste Ontario program, highlighting the relationships they have with Ontario farmers and producers, some going back a couple of generations.

I think that the opportunity to give a deeper view of what they think makes Longo’s special is what is most exciting to them about having Joel and me involved in the Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassador program. (At least I hope that’s what it is.)  Obviously from a pure social media perspective, it’s a great content marketing initiative too. (That’s my geeky hat talking).

Some of the Cheese Selection

But honestly, every time I’ve talked one-on-one with someone from Longo’s I’ve walked away impressed with their passion for food and their business.  Last week’s tour of the Maple Leaf Square location with Rosanne Longo to kick this program off reminded me of this.  In each area of the store we met someone new and had enthusiastic discussions about food, family and Ontario products. (Sounds cheesy, but it’s true!)

How it could go horribly awry:

I could get super cheesy and start talking up Longo’s products without discrimination as “the best ever always”.  I could lose all balance and perspective, like a teenage girl with her first crush, and start talking non-stop purple-prose about Longo’s and all the amazing things they do, make and are.

If I do any of those things, please kick me in the ass.

What’s next?

This post marks the start of the 3-month Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassador program.

I’ll be blogging twice a month around my experiences, sharing tastes, adventures, recipes, insights, and disclosing all the way.    Both Joel and I have some ideas around opportunities to include you more actively in the experience, but more about that later.

I hope you enjoy the insider view I’ll be sharing, and please let me know if you have anything you’d like me to do, ask, share or find out more about.

10 thoughts on “Foodie Adventure: Longo’s Taste Ontario Ambassador!

  • August 15, 2011 at 2:40 pm
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    Very cool!
    Congrats Lex, and I hope you maintain your perspective 🙂
    I love farm tours, and talking with the people who are growing and creating the food that we eat.
    And GroceryGateway.com (owned by Longo’s) is totally awesome.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm
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    Congrats on the opportunity, Alexa. Personally, I think the connection between food bloggers/social media types and the food businesses that operate around us is important, and I know you and Joel will do a good job of letting people know what Longo’s is doing right (and perhaps what they can improve upon). I don’t have a particular allegiance to Longo’s since they haven’t opened a location yet in the east end of downtown Toronto. But I have always appreciated the fact they seem to focus on local produce and quality goods – something I wish more grocery chains would pay more attention to.
    And incidentally, I have the opposite opinion of Grocery Gateway as the previous commenter based on my limited experiences with it. So if you’re game to try and change my opinion of it through this venture, I’m all ears…

    Reply
  • August 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm
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    Thanks Pat, I expect perspective will be maintained, especially knowing you are out there waiting ;->
    re: GroceryGateway.com – yup, fan of that arm of Longo’s too. They used to be my regular grocery solution when I was working insane hours, and for my big BBQ & Sangria parties.

    Reply
  • August 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm
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    Neil, thanks. I didn’t have much experience with Longo’s (beyond GroceryGateway) until they opened their Dundas and Elizabeth store myself since I’m car-free. But now they are establishing a presence in the downtown core it’s getting easier to explore them, especially with the big location (48000 square feet!) at Maple Leaf Square at the foot of York.
    re: changing your opinion – well I’m not trying to convert anyone, just explore and share. We’ll see where that nets out.

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  • August 17, 2011 at 12:26 am
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    Can you find out if Longo’s plans to open a store in Ottawa? Oh lawd i wish we had some better supermarket choices!

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  • August 17, 2011 at 12:30 pm
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    Rocker, I will certainly ask but I think their focus is expanding within the GTA right now. We’ll have to go on a shopping excursion next time you are up!

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  • August 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm
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    What a fabulous opportunity Lex! I think you and Longos make great partners and are pretty much a perfect fit. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures in food!

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  • August 18, 2011 at 11:14 am
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    Thanks Andrea! It’s already a blast!

    Reply
  • August 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm
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    Longos: Unexpected Cupcakes Charity

    On Thursday I went into Longo’s with a clear vision of what I would be writing now. Planning to share a Day of Taste Ontario with you, I got my coffee sample from Raveesh, picked up a cream horn from the bakery (a delight I rarely allow myself) and hea…

    Reply
  • August 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm
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    Giveaway: Bag of Longos Goodies

    As part of the Taste Ontario Ambassador Series I asked Longo’s to make it possible for me to share my tastes and experiences with you guys through a monthly giveaway of some of the Taste Ontario produce and Longo’s products. Of course I don’t have enou…

    Reply

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