Wellington West culinary benefit raises thousands for Parkdale Food Centre

Annual gala for local food bank held at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards

An Ottawa food bank, known for thinking outside the box, selected the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards — which is also about exploring new ideas — as the venue to hold its fifth annual Parkdale Food Centre Gala.

This year’s fundraiser was a sell out, with 300 guests filling the entrepreneurial hub to enjoy a night of eating, drinking and catching up with their Wellington West and Hintonburg neighbours. The tickets were $125 per person, or $100 each for those who were on the ball and bought early.

Returning favourites from the culinary community included: Absinthe, Allium, Bar Laurel, Dish Catering, Supply and Demand, The Urban Element, Thyme & Again Creative Catering, and Stella Luna Gelato, along with Beyond the Pale Brewery and two new joiners: Stofa Restaurant and The Table vegetarian restaurant. 

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Supply and Demand chef and co-owner Steve Wall with Karen Secord, manager of the Parkdale Food Centre, at the food bank's fifth annual food- and drink-tasting fundraiser, held at Bayview Yards on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Patrick Garland, chef and owner of Absinthe, was back participating in the annual Parkdale Food Centre Gala, held at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips 

Among the dishes showcased that night were smoked salmon, goat cheese and apple éclairs; mushrooms and escargot on toast; pig cheek tapas with rhubarb; lobster velouté; asparagus, radish and white anchovy bibb lettuce wraps; and poached pineapple, sour cream cake with salty meringue and nitro-frozen apricot.

The net total of roughly $22,000 raised will help the Parkdale Food Centre cover its summer grocery bills for the roughly 750 residents who visit the centre each month. The PFC also runs grassroots programs and activities to help community members gain better cooking skills and learn more about nutrition.

“We’re all about community,” Parkdale Food Centre board chair Len Fardella told OBJ.social at the gala. “Tonight is a good chance for people to get together. This is where everyone who works with the centre, supports the centre and volunteers at the centre has some fun.

“The centre is about bringing people together, around food, so the gala is the same idea.”

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From left, Len Fardella, president of job-search service Peter's New Jobs, with Wellington West BIA executive director Dennis Van Staalduinen at the the Innovation Centre for Bayview Yards for the fifth annual Parkdale Food Centre Gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Seen from the PFC was its award-winning community builder and manager, Karen Secord, along with such board members as Hilary McVey, who’s in charge of fundraising, and prominent businesswoman Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme & Again. The gala's two main sponsors were Jeff Hill from BMO Nesbitt Burns and RE/MAX real estate broker Susan Chell.

Also sighted was Frazer Nagy, co-founder and CEO of Transparent Kitchen, a local startup that gives consumers a behind-the-scenes look at which farmers and producers a restaurant is using, as well as the ingredients that go into their dishes.

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From left, Adam Weiss with Allium Restaurant executive chef Arup Jana, Frazer Nagy, and Michael Moffatt, managing partner of Thyme & Again, at the fifth annual Parkdale Food Centre Gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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From left, PFC board member Hilary McVey with sponsors Jeff Hill, vice president, managing director, branch manager and investment advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns, and RE/MAX real estate broker Susan Chell at the Parkdale Food Centre Gala held at Bayview Yards on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Doug Fyfe, a partner at Gowling WLG, with his wife, Alice, along with neighbours Arlo Litman and Meg Wilson at the Parkdale Food Centre Gala held at Bayview Yards on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Laryssa Korbutiak, owner of Oresta organic skin care apothecary, with Carley Schelck, CEO of The Urban Element, and Natalia Karplus at the Parkdale Food Centre Gala held at Bayview Yards on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Last spring, the Parkdale Food Centre also chose Bayview Yards to officially launch its Growing Futures social enterprise that works with children, using hydroponic growing systems to produce fresh produce that can be sold to the local food service industry.

The program has expanded to 53 systems at 37 different sites, including schools, libraries and community housing neighbourhoods. Bayview Yards is home to three units.

The garden towers grow green leafy vegetables and herbs. Once the plants are harvested, they can be sold to restaurants to be added to soups, stews, sandwiches and salads.

The program teaches children about food, including where it comes from and how it’s grown, as well as helps youth to understand how money works, through their partnerships with local businesses.

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From left, teacher Matt Herrington (Fisher Park Summit Alternative), Hazel Herrington, teacher Kelley Voros (Elmdale PS), teacher Dave Farley (Fisher Park) and teacher Michelle Richardson (Connaught PS) and their students are participating in the Growing Futures social enterprise through the Parkdale Food Centre. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa artist Russell Yuristy with Susan Thomson and her sister, Mayo Graham,  founding director of the Ottawa Art Gallery, were among the 300 to attend the 5th annual Parkdale Food Centre Gala. Photo by Caroline Phillips 
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Sue Hall, project lead of the Parkdale Food Centre's Growing Futures social enterprise, with one of the garden towers being run by 10-year-old Quinn Matthews. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca