It’s not every day you compare fine dining with helping to eradicate the scourge of cancer — one delicious bite at a time
OCT 02 14 – 12:50 PM — It’s been said more than once (most likely by folks including me, in a particularly jaded moment) that chefs who take themselves too, too seriously should lighten up because it’s really just about dinner.
I mean, it’s not like they’re curing cancer.
Well, today I might take a few steps back on that account after chefs, caterers, one dedicated food aficionado, faculty and a gaggle of eager culinary arts students served a superlative meal at Restaurant International on the campus of Algonquin College, to a sold-out audience at $125 a plate. In what was billed as a Taste & Walk Exclusive Chefs’ Dinner, $23,000 was raise through ticket sales and auction items to support the Nordic Walk for Cancer Survivorship.
Not bad for Tuesday night out. And a great cause to boot.
To that end, Sheila Whyte of Thyme & Again Creative Catering had her chefs Paul Thompson and Jeff Charlebois prepare five hors d’oeuvres ranging from beef short rib to gluten-free salmon and tender vegetables.
Of course, photos of every morsel are posted here.
Chris Knight, cookbook author, founder and CEO of Gusto TV, Canada’s new food and lifestyle channel, made a killer (yet elegantly simple) chicken vegetable soup embellished with fresh thyme and crispy Seed to Sausage crumbled bacon, while chef Michael Moffatt of Beckta Dining & Wine, Play Food & Wine and Gezellig served a varied salmon appetizer. TV celebrity chef Rene Rodriguez of Navarra stepped up with the main of pig cheek confit and parsnip purée, while chef Marc Doiron of Town restaurant finished with chocolate shortcake with sautéed cherries and a most unique and refreshing oatmeal stout whipped cream.
The idea was the brainchild of chef and culinary instructor Scott Warrick, noted lawyer Lawrence Greenspon (who stood in as emcee and auctioneer for the evening) and Geoff Lalonde, board member on the Nordic Pole Walk for cancer.
“Sitting around the table over dinner one night, we realized each has had cancer strike friends and family dear to us,” Warrick says.
“Lawrence and Geoff both said this was a driving force behind their involvement with the Nordic Pole Walk. So it seemed to us that an annual dinner in support of the Nordic Pole Walk and the Maplesoft Cancer Centre was a no-brainer,” Warrick says.
School administration and faculty volunteers climbed on board. “As for the chef, my first call was to Chris Knight who in turn called chefs Rodriguez and Moffatt. I phoned Sheila Whyte, while Geoff Lalonde approached his friend chef Doiron.
“They all said yes without hesitation. In fact, this was without doubt a highlight of my 35-plus years as a chef,” Warrick says.
Of the chefs, Rodriguez and Moffatt are both Algonquin alumni (Moffatt also sits on the school’s community culinary advisory committee).
“It’s an opportunity for me to give back to the school,” Rodriguez says.
“I came to Algonquin 12 years ago and for me it’s an honour to be back to cook tonight. It brings back memories,” he says.
The event also gives Algonquin students a chance to work beside accomplished chefs with restaurants of their own.
“The thrill of working with these professionals is an evening they’ll never forget,” Warrick says.