What a marvelous, humbling and educational experience. I dragged myself home from a 9 hour shift in a professional kitchen and felt more elated than I’ve been in years.
It was hard work for sure, educational on many levels, with a built in sense of team work that I’ve rarely seen in business. And for a mere $100, you too can be rejuvenated by the experience while giving back to a good cause.
Food for Change
I’m speaking of the Food for Change program at The Stop in Toronto. The Stop in Toronto’s west end, is “community hub where neighbours participate in a broad range of programs that provide healthy food, as well as foster social connections, build food skills and promote engagement in civic issues.”
Food for Change is one of their monthly fundraisers where you have two opportunities to participate.
- You can dine in a spectacular setting of their greenhouse. You experience a 5 course meal created by one of Toronto’s top chefs, paired with specially selected wines.
- Or you can do as I did and join the kitchen crew, working side by side with the chefs Chris Brown, Scott MacNeil and Alex Tso for a real hands on experience prepping, cooking and plating these top dishes.
For anyone who loves food or loves to cook this experience is rare. It’s an inexpensive journey into a world we seldom get to see. It’s real, not cooking school, it’s intense as the clock ticks down to serving time and you’re conscious that this is a non-profit venture where these top ingredients are more than precious and the kitchen and cookware are not pristine (and not entirely functional). These top chefs are making do but that’s part of the charm.
The team work is amazing to watch as Chris sets the direction then bounces between demands of his phone, the staff, the kitchen and a photographer, Anna Prior, who happened to be there that day. Scott and Alex work steady, somehow in tandem with Chris while supporting us amateurs. Their patience is remarkable and you feel their comradery and passion for good food.
Support The Stop
So if you want to give back, go the The Stop and see what they offer. There are a many programs at their location, out in community and they even cater!
- Check the program calendar then instead of defaulting to your goto restaurant, grab a few friends or just take yourself for a unique dining adventure (only $75 or $120 with wine).
- Love to cook or know someone who does? Consider this a gift and spend $100 for a priceless experience.
- Take a team, help out at The Stop and get back to basics. I can think nothing better to give you perspective and re-engage your sense of purpose.
See this good photo essay: http://goodfoodrevolution.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/the-stops-food-for-change-dinner-series-a-photo-essay/