Blue Door Gala to open up job avenues for people in need

Inaugural gala in mid-November will support The Ottawa Mission's training program in food services

The Ottawa Mission has assembled a respected team of business leaders to head up its new charity gala happening Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Infinity Convention Centre.

Popular caterer Sheila Whyte, owner of Thyme & Again, and her managing partner – award-winning chef Michael Moffatt – along with respected lawyer Lawrence Greenspon, partner at Greenspon Granger Hill, are co-chairing the inaugural Blue Door Gala. It’s named after The Mission ’s front entrance, which is always open to those who are homeless and hungry.

The trio gathered Wednesday, along with organizers and supporters, to officially launch the fundraiser at Thyme & Again’s newest location on Carling Avenue. Organizers brought in a blue door just for the occasion. It made for a perfect framing prop for photo-ops.

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Blue Door Gala launch

The gala will be raising funds for The Mission’s life-changing food services training program that provides men and women with the opportunity to learn the skills required to work in a commercial kitchen. In 2017, some 18 individuals completed the program. There were three current students at the launch helping to prepare hors d’oeuvres. Whyte has another four former students who are now working for her.

“The only requirement to be in the program is a desire to want to change your life,” said chef Ric Allen-Watson, long-time food services manager at The Mission. 

Also there from The Mission were its executive director, Peter Tilley, and the head of its foundation, Sean Wong. Supporters included Michael Scrivens from Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions, Ottawa construction veteran John Westeinde and Chef Janik Quintal, corporate chef at the St. Albert Cheese and president of the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation. While there, he agreed to buy a table of 10 for the gala.

Jim Kyte, dean of Algonquin College’s School of Hospitality and Tourism, arrived sporting a minor abrasion on his forehead that, learned, was the result of a spill he took the day prior while cycling in Gatineau Park. He had nearly collided with a black bear.

Blue Door Gala launchBlue Door Gala launch

Alex Scholz shared his story of how he became a student of the five-month training program a couple of years ago after his life hit an all-time low. The former financial advisor had lost everything as the result of a drug habit that he’d been keeping secret for years.

“I don’t know if I’d be here today if I didn’t come across this program,” said Scholz, who credited it with helping to save his life. “It allowed me to look at myself in the mirror in the morning and not hate myself.”

Today, Scholz works at Kristy’s Family Restaurant on Richmond Road.

“I personally believe that it does change people’s lives,” he told the room.

Blue Door Gala launchBlue Door Gala launch

From the Infinity Convention Centre was its director of food and beverage, Tim Wasylko. He volunteered with The Mission’s program prior to his six-year stint as executive chef for former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Wasylko shared with the room details of the four-course dinner that will be served at the $175-a-ticket Blue Door Gala. Allen-Watson and students from The Ottawa Mission’s food services training program will be preparing gourmet hors d’oeuvres and a four-course meal, in partnership with Infinity’s executive chef, Jason Peters. Here’s what the menu will look like:

Blue Door Gala launchBlue Door Gala launch


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