Here in Stratford the last couple of weeks have been full of great fundraiser meals! I love nothing more than eating incredible food and knowing that the proceeds are going to a good cause.
Remember when I accompanied Paul Finkelstein's Screaming Avocado Cafe crew (the culinary arts class/alternative cafeteria at Stratford Northwestern Secondary) when they traveled to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut a couple of years ago (I wrote about it on my blog as well as in an article published in the November, 2011 edition of Canadian Living magazine)?
Well, the Avocados returned to Nunavut in April, this time to the town of Cape Dorset.
To help pay for some of the expenses for their trip and for when the Nunavut kids come to Stratford next week, Fink's Culinary Club had a fundraiser dinner featuring an entree of perfectly cooked steak, crispy polenta fries, and seasonal wild leeks.
Youth For African Sustainability is a Stratford-based initiative that provides opportunities for the next generation of activists to make a difference on an international level. Giza Wordofa (above, next to Nathan McKay) was born in Ethiopia, where the group will be travelling this summer to help build water wells.
Giza and his organization thought the best way to celebrate international cooperation was through a multicultural meal. And I have to say the food at this event was PHENOMENAL - I love Ethiopian food and there were also great dishes from Russia, India, Korea, and Thailand featured. The challenge was getting it to all fit on your plate!
On Thursday I was nominated for the Personal Excellence Award at the Stratford Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. To even be mentioned in the same category as Antoni Cimolino (the Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival who spearheaded the recent community- development-through-theatre initiative in Suchitoto El Salvador), Kimberley Payne (Executive Director of the Stratford Chefs School), Trevor Exner (from Black Angus Restaurant), and the winner David Blackburn (recognized for his outstanding work with Junior Achievement and much more) was a extreme honour.
The United Way of Perth-Huron was nominated in the Community Service category. Lisa and I joined UWPH Resource Development Manager Lesley Spencer-Cooper and Executive Director Ryan Erb at the Arden Park Hotel where the awards event took place.
On Saturday the Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Stratford House of Blessing was held at Knox Church. The first thing was to pick out a bowl from among the dozens of hand-painted creations.
Chef Jordan Lassaline (from Revel Caffe and Stratford Chefs School) coordinated the event, which featured dishes from all sorts of great restaurants like Pazzo (that's Pazzo's chef Yva Santini alongside Jordan above).
Slow Food Perth County Co-Chair Phil Phillips and Slow Food exec member Ingrid de Martines (from Perth Pork Products) were serving up bowlfuls of all-local seasonal soup (Slow Food Market returns to Market Square tomorrow alongside Food Truck Eats, blog to follow...)
Phil created a Wild Leek and Jerusalem Artichoke soup with a Fiddlehead garnish (fiddleheads donated by yours truly after a recent successful foraging outing). In June Anita Stewart is coming to Stratford to contemplate Canada's culinary heritage - if she's wondering what a truly Canadian spring dish would look like, she should check out this pic!
After he stocked their shelves at Christmas, millions of fans now know that Stratford House of Blessing is Justin Bieber's favourite charity. Unfortunately there was no Bieber piece among the celebrity-painted bowls for the silent auction. But Celtic music star Loreena McKennit created a whimsical vessel (above on top) while Mayor Dan Mathieson painted a bowl in the Stratford tartan (above on bottom).
When it's time to raise funds in Stratford the food community is there to support those who are doing great work. Giving back never tasted so good!