‘Unique and famous delicacy.’ Councillor makes plea for donair to be named official food

HALIFAX – A passionate plea was made at a Halifax council meeting on Tuesday night, to have Halifax declare an “official food.”

That food item? The garlicy, spicy, sweet, greasy concoction popularly known as the donair.

“Mr. Mayor, we have many unique characteristics about Halifax, and many different foods that we eat, but the donair is the most unique and famous delicacy,” councillor Linda Mosher said Tuesday.

“It’s like a cult, people are obsessed with donairs here.”

Mosher originally put the proposal forward to have this “delicacy” be adopted as the official food on Sunday, calling it iconic, and a symbol of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

“The recipe was formed here, and many have tried to duplicate it, and it originated here on Quinpool Road,” she said.

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She added that Tourism Nova Scotia and the Downtown Halifax Business Commission have both marketed the donair to increase visitors to the area, and that it’s been featured in National Geographic and on Anthony Bourdain’s popular food travel show Parts Unknown.

READ MORE: Garlic, spice and everything nice – the donair could be Halifax’s ‘official’ food

The restaurant King of Donair has laid claim to the creation of the donair, which has been called one of eight delicacies of Canada.

Original donairs feature spicy donair meat, which is cooked on a large rotating spit and shaved to order, fresh tomato and onion, and sweet garlicy donair sauce all wrapped in a pita.

A fresh donair is wrapped up at the King of Donair restaurant in Halifax on Wednesday. Ray Bradshaw/Global News

“People rave about coming here and trying their first donair,” Mosher said.

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“I think it’s a great idea,” said Norman Nahas, owner of King of Donair. “We’re used to seeing a lot of tourism because of it and we always hear great stories of people coming back home to enjoy a donair.”

Councillor Brad Johns was quick to agree with Mosher, speaking about it’s popularity and the fact that Sackville has a King of Donair, which he thinks is great.

“Donairs are most certainly the one thing that are somewhat unique to Halifax,” said Johns.

Councillor Bill Karsten, though, wasn’t so overwhelmed by the idea, saying that as a level of government, regional council shouldn’t be discussing this “at random.”

“Let’s not get it confused and say ‘the donair’ was invented in Halifax,” he argued. “‘The Halifax Donair,’ as made by those in the business here is very, very special to Halifax, but donairs are being served in Turkey and Syria and in countries abroad for centuries, different version, but a donair none the less.”

“What’s done here in Halifax is a complete different mix of meat and spice, complete different sauce,” Nahas said. “And is unlike any other quote-unquote doughner or donair across the world.”

It was agreed that a staff report will be conducted into whether Halifax city council will adopt the spicy, unique treat of the donair as the city’s official food.

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With files from Ray Bradshaw.