Not only was it a meal fit for every Who in Whoville, but the 10th anniversary of the Grinch Dinner raised a considerable sum of money – $40,750 – for the Shepherds of Good Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving our city’s poor and homeless.
The fundraiser was held Tuesday night in the private dining room, Table 40, of Fraser Café in New Edinburgh. It sold out faster than ever, and even squeezed in a couple of extra guests, bringing the dinner crowd to 42.
The chefs from Fraser Café, Les Fougères, Sutherland Restaurant and The Whalesbone prepared the $750-a-plate, four-course gourmet meal. The food was paired with selections from the Stem Wine Group while Top Shelf Craft Distillers mixed up some Christmas Cosmo vodka cocktail drinks.
The room collectively donated an extra $10,000 in order to bring the 10-year total of money raised from the dinner up to $250,000.
The Grinch Dinner was started by John Peters and his friend Paul Turner, who are now business partners at Jaimac Risk Management, a boutique insurance brokerage for large companies in high-risk industries. They recruited well-known and respected chef Robert Bourassa, who used to run the iconic Café Henry Burger, to coordinate the dinner.
Not only does this particular gathering raise money over the holidays for the Shepherds, but it also boosts awareness of the services and programs delivered at the Shepherds and, ultimately, changes people’s perception of the homeless.
“Twenty years ago, I would drive down Murray Street and I would go, ‘Uch!’,” Turner sheepishly acknowledged what many motorists probably still feel today as they pass by the homeless shelter.
Peters’ connection to the Shepherds of Good Hope dates back to 1993. He served as chair of its board of directors and, for 20 years, chair of its foundation board. He and Turner are grateful to their friends for their goodwill and also dish out praise to the culinary community for its dedicated support.
“The people who never, ever hesitate are the chefs,” Peters emphasized. “They jump in and they throw their heart and soul into this.”
Chefs Ross and Simon Fraser, who own Fraser Café, took care of the cold canapés while Chefs Charles Part and Yannick LaSalle, of Les Fougères in Chelsea, Que., were in charge of the cured wild sockeye salmon appetizer.
The hot appetizer – a Jamaican-spiced warm duck terrine – was the work of Chef Warren Sutherland, from nearby Sutherland Restaurant. Chef Michael Radford from The Whalesbone provided the main course of seared Hokkaido scallops and bone marrow risotto.
Bourassa came through with the dessert: Bosc pear tartlets with Roquefort cream.
Shepherds of Good Hope president and chief executive Deirdre Freiheit and Neil Leslie, vice-president of its charitable foundation, attended the dinner. They both paid for their own tickets.
Dinner guests also included the organization’s board chair, Margaret Tansey, a nurse who worked at the executive level for the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group, and the foundation’s board chair, Ryan Kilger, a lawyer with Vincent Dagenais Gibson, as well as its vice-chair, community leader Melissa Shabinsky.
The Shepherds of Good Hope, founded in 1983, serves over 1,500 meals a day from its soup kitchen and provides shelter to both men and women. It also helps 800 individuals each month through its grocery and clothing programs.
It provides almost 200 people with a permanent place to live through its five supportive housing buildings, located from downtown to Kanata. As well, it runs a managed alcohol program and social enterprise day program.
Many of the people it helps suffer from severe and concurrent mental health challenges, trauma and addiction issues.
It also receives support from more than 400 volunteers each year.