Taste for Hope a yummy success with record-breaking $270K raised

Sold-out night of food, drink, live music and auction bidding held in support of Shepherds of Good Hope and its goal of creating more supportive housing for Ottawa's homeless population
Editor's Note

OBJ.social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark Motors and Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties. Read their stories here.

Really, the only weather warning needed Thursday night was for when Taste for Hope returned to take taste buds by storm.

After a pandemic-imposed hiatus, the popular food and drink fundraiser for Shepherds of Good Hope made a delicious comeback, welcoming hundreds of attendees to the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne to raise a glass to help raise a roof. 

The non-profit organization has been working hard to create more supportive housing for Ottawa's homeless population, recognizing that people do better when they have some stability.

“You can see the difference in people,” Deirdre Freiheit, CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope (SGH) and of SGH Foundation, told OBJ.social at the VIP reception catered by Essence Catering. It was hosted by executive recruitment firm Boyden at Mark Motors’ Audi City Ottawa location, also at Lansdowne. “Their health gets better. They reconnect with their families. They’re not out in the community panhandling. It’s a safer environment.”

The road to healing and recovery isn’t without its setbacks, she acknowledged. “We’re Shepherds of 100 chances because people need, sometimes, more than one opportunity.”

At the VIP reception was Boyden partner John Caminiti. He was involved in the hiring of Freiheit to lead Shepherds eight years ago. The pair has been friends ever since. “It means a lot to me, personally,” Caminiti said of being able to support Taste for Hope and its cause of alleviating homelessness.

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From left, Boyden partner Paul Marshall, Shepherds of Good Hope CEO Deirdre Freiheit, and John Caminiti, partner at Boyden, at a VIP reception held at Audi City Ottawa just prior to the Taste for Hope food and drink fundraiser for Shepherds at the Horticulture Building on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Richard Sachs from Urbandale Corporation with his wife, Michelle Sachs, at a VIP reception held at Audi City Ottawa prior to the main event, Taste for Hope, a food and drink fundraiser for Shepherds of Good Hope, at the Horticulture Building on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Heather Linton and Ottawa serial entrepreneur Bruce Linton with their guests, Shail Paliwal and Tina Paliwal, at a VIP reception held at Audi City Ottawa prior to the main event, Taste for Hope, a food and drink fundraiser for Shepherds of Good Hope at the Horticulture Building on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Justin Schurman, regional V-P at RBC, with RBC regional president Marjolaine Hudon, Janet McKeage from RBC Wealth Management, and Matt Brearey, senior group consultant at RBC, at a VIP reception held at Audi City Ottawa prior to the main event, Taste for Hope, a food and drink fundraiser for Shepherds of Good Hope at the Horticulture Building on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The sold-out evening was co-chaired by Liza Mrak, executive vice president of Mark Motors Group, and her husband, Gary Zed, founder and CEO of ESG company Canada’s Forest Trust. The presenting sponsor was Ideal Roofing.

It was the most successful Taste for Hope yet in the event’s nine-year history. The event raised $270,000 — three times more than the last time the fundraiser was held in early 2020. 

New this year was the addition of live music performed by Dave Kalil, Tyler Kealey and Todd Huckabone of Ottawa's Dueling Pianos, a popular fixture on Ottawa's music scene for many years. 

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From left, Taste for Hope co-chairs Gary Zed and Liza Mrak, along with David Gourlay, vice president at Shepherds of Good Hope, and Deirdre Freiheit, CEO at Shepherds of Good Hope, reveal the amount raised at this year's fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Dave Kalil, Todd Huckabone and Tyler Kealey from Ottawa's Dueling Pianos played at this year's Taste for Hope in support of the Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Dave Kalil performs as part of Ottawa's Dueling Pianos at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips

A gavel-swinging Ryan Watson from Raising the Bid got the audience fired up for a live auction that sold off unique culinary experiences. Chef Raghav Chaudhary offered up a private dinner for four with wine pairings at his restaurant, Aiana, that sold for $3,000 to Ottawa IP lawyer Natalie Raffoul. Shepherd's Champion Table member Sofia Santiso Borsten donated a rooftop dinner for 15 at the new Starling restaurant in the heart of the ByWard Market, with music from the Dueling Pianos. It went to Ian Davidson for $7,000.

Chef Joe Thottungal offered to host a reception for up to 15 at his Coconut Lagoon restaurant, which is finally reopening this summer after being damaged by fire two years ago. The package sold twice for $7,500 to the two highest bidders — with one of them being Ottawa serial entrepreneur Bruce Linton. The award-winning chef also threw in another package, and it was a doozy: a culinary tour of India next March.

Pelican Seafood Market & Grill donated a Maritime’s night to the auction with a 10-person backyard barbeque bash. It sold for $9,500.

There was also an Ottawa Jazz Festival and Lord Elgin Hotel music, dining and hotel package.

Watson raised further money through a Fund a Need direct-ask that called on attendees to help Shepherds with its annual groceries bill of $550,000. It serves 700 meals a day in its community kitchen and currently has four supportive housing residences.

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Ryan Watson from Raising the Bid led the live auction of unique culinary packages in support of Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The fundraiser involved community-minded local chefs, many of whom remember the Taste for Hope held in early March 2020 as the last fundraiser they participated in before the pandemic hit and turned their industry upside down. Stephen La Salle was among the chefs who donated to Shepherds all the food from his hotel restaurant after it was forced to shut down due to restrictions.

"It's like coming full circle," said La Salle, who was back at Taste for Hope this year as the new executive chef at The Metcalfe Hotel, which has been undergoing major renovations. 

Sheila Whyte of Thyme & Again said her business has been “crazy” since the petering out of the pandemic. “We’re so busy we can’t see straight, but that’s what’s so fun and fabulous about it,” said Whyte, whose catering company is now booked solid again.

The fundraiser attracted numerous philanthropists and business leaders, including Minto Group and OSEG executive chairman Roger Greenberg, who’s just welcomed his first grandchild (a boy!), InterRent REIT executive chairman Mike McGahan and CLV Group president Oz Drewniak, and Richard Sachs from Urbandale Corporation. Also spotted were JP Gladu, former president and CEO of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. He's now chair of Canada's Forest Trust. RBC regional president Marjolaine Hudon was there. So was Terlin Construction owner Terry McLaughlin, Howard Fine Jewellers co-owner Stephanie Appotive, and Janet McKeage from RBC Wealth Management. She’s just stepped into the role of chair of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation board, making her the first woman to do so.

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Chef/owner Joe Thottungal of Coconut Lagoon with Stephen La Salle, new executive chef of Cocotte Bistro at The Metcalfe Hotel, are both long time supporters of Shepherds of Good Hope's signature food and drink fundraiser, Taste for Hope, held Wednesday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, John Jessup and Sandi Goldberg with Ian Shabinsky, principal at sponsor Glenview Management Limited, and his wife, Melissa Shabinsky, a long-time supporter of Shepherds of Good Hope, at its signature fundraiser, Taste for Hope, held Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Orléans MP Marie-France Lalonde with Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association and board member with the Shepherds of Good Hope, at the non-profit organization's signature food and drink fundraiser, Taste for Hope, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Terry McLaughlin, owner of sponsor Terlin Construction, with his wife, Catherine McLaughlin, and GAB Communications president Ginger Bertrand with Stephanie Appotive, co-owner of sponsor Howard Fine Jewellers, at Shepherds of Good Hope's signature food and drink fundraiser, Taste for Hope, held Wednesday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Roger Greenberg, chair of The Ottawa Hospital's new campus development campaign, with The Ottawa Hospital Foundation's new board chair, Janet McKeage, along with Tim Kluke, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, and Cameron Love, president and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme & Again Creative Catering and Take Home Foods, with Charlie Part and Jennifer Warren-Part, right, from Chelsea, Que.-restaurant Les Fougères at the Taste for Hope fundraiser for Shepherds of Good Hope, held Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Krista Kealey, vice president of communications and public affairs for the Ottawa International Airport Authority, with Mary Taggart, publisher of sponsor Ottawa At Home Magazine and her VP of sales, Jennifer Tackaberry, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Oz Drewniak, president of sponsor CLV Group, with his wife, Lysa Drewniak, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, JP Gladu, chair of Canada's Forest Trust, with Hillary Thatcher, senior director of project development Indigenous infrastructure at Canada Infrastructure Bank, and Clint Davis, CEO of Nunasi Corporation, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Michael Williams, partner at sponsor Odgers Berndtson and member of Shepherds of Good Hope's Champions Table, with his wife, Claudia, at the Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Jayne Watson, CEO of the National Arts Centre Foundation, with her husband, Peter Froislie, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Marc André Way, Sarah O'Connor and Claude Thivierge from sponsor Capital Taxi with Liza Mrak, co-chair of Taste for Hope in support of Shepherds of Good Hope, held at the Horticulture Building on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa radiologist Dr. Adnan Hadziomerovic with Sandra Assaly and Pawan Dilawri, president of Dilawri Auto Group, and his wife, Meera, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Shepherds of Good Hope board vice chair Mark Roundell with board treasurer Kaveh Rikhtegar and his wife, Caroline Rikhtegar, at Shepherds of Good Hope's Taste for Hope fundraiser, held Thursday, June 16, 2022, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Hundreds gathered in the Horticulture Building on Thursday, June 16, 2022, for the Taste for Hope fundraiser for Shepherds of Good Hope, presented by Ideal Roofing. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca