Donair

Donair named Halifax’s official food

"Everyone remembers their first donair, like their first kiss," says Tony’s Donair manager Leo Salloum

The audience of council chamber at City Hall gasped on Tuesday when Halifax regional council’s vote on whether to proclaim the donair as the city’s official food resulted in a 7-7 tie, leaving it up to Mayor Mike Savage to break the tie.

He voted yes, but said he didn’t see the need to think much over his vote.

“There are other things that are more pressing,” said Savage. “There [should be] nothing controversial about this. I don’t think people should overreact. Have a bit of fun with this, have your donair and good luck to the people who sell them.”

The meaty pita wrap has gained recognition across the country and beyond as a unique food, enough to be considered for the title of ‘Halifax’s official food’.

King of Donair owner Norman Nahas says the donair was first introduced in Halifax in the 1970s by Greek immigrant Peter Gamoulakos. It was inspired by the Greek gyro, but adjustments were made to the type of meat and spices used.

“The food is renowned throughout the country and it’s a big tourist draw,” said Nahas. “People take the food with them where they go and there’s many cities [that] have tried to replicate the food, but they can’t get it the same way as here.”

Delicacy vs ‘junk food’

IT consultant Adam Schofield said he doesn’t believe the donair is worthy to represent the city of Halifax.

“It’s just a junk food,” he said. “It’s delicious of course…but we’re by the ocean, any seafood would have been better.”

Provincial official Tatiana Morren Fraser believes there are other foods that could represent Halifax even though the donair is an iconic symbol of the city.

“Something Maritimey, but not a donair,” she said on Monday. “Something from the sea like lobster or along those lines.”

‘It’s a taste that never leaves you’

Tony’s Donair manager Leo Salloum said the donair is not just representing Halifax, but it’s culture as well.

“[The donair] hits a soft spot for a lot of people that go away and come back,” he said. “It stands out for many people that have come to visit and are still living here or even moved abroad for work. The donair is something that has stayed with their hearts. Everyone remembers their first donair, like their first kiss. It’s a taste that never leaves you.”