Ottawa chefs remain 'unsung heroes' of Taste For Hope culinary benefit for Shepherds of Good Hope

Non-profit organization to open a brand new 42-unit supportive housing facility on Montreal Road this fall
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Warning: Reading this material on an empty stomach may make you very hungry.

Ottawa’s culinary community volunteered their time, talents, and oh-so-tasty ingredients to deliver one of the best food-tasting experiences possible at the eighth annual, sold-out Taste For Hope benefit, held Wednesday night at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne.

To top things off, Ideal Roofing joined this year as presenting sponsor.

"The chefs are really the unsung heroes," Deirdre Freiheit, president and CEO of the Shepherds of Good Hope, told OBJ.social. "They provide their staff, their time, their food. Everything is donated, and it's all to support the work that we do."

The evening raised $89,000 — and counting — from corporate sponsorship, silent and live auction proceeds, and ticket sales for the Shepherds of Good Hope, a non-profit organization that provides food and shelter, clothing and support services to thousands of men and women faced with living on the streets. The total is more than last year's record-breaking $86,000.

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The 8th annual Taste For Hope fundraiser for the Shepherds of Good Hope was held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Donna Chevrier, chef and owner of Ola Cocina in Vanier, knows what it means to get a helping hand when you most need it. She was ready to throw in the kitchen towel after her business was broken into, burglarized and vandalized last fall. What saved her, financially and emotionally, was the compassionate response from the community. Led by the Vanier BIA, it quickly mobilized itself to raise more than $22,000 to keep Ola Cocina open.

“It put the wind in my sails,” said Chevrier, who had her own George Bailey epiphany upon realizing how many customers care about her little restaurant. “Who would have thought, a white girl with Mexican food in the middle of Vanier.”

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From left, chefs Donna Chevrier (Ola Cocina) with Dominique Dufour (Gray Jay) participated in the Taste For Hope fundraiser for the Shepherds of Good Hope, held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Chevrier was joined at Taste for Hope by 17 other chefs, including Dominique Dufour, executive chef and co-owner of Gray Jay on Preston Street. She’s a rising culinary star and part of a talented new batch of chefs from across the country competing in season eight of Top Chef Canada. It begins airing April 13th on Food Network Canada. 

She can't spill the beans on how far she made it in the show, or whether she won, but she did share this: “I got to know some of the most talented chefs I’ve ever met in my life. It was very challenging but it was also a great learning experience about yourself, about how you work with others, and about your core values.”

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From left, The Westin Ottawa executive chef Geoffrey Morden with Kenton Leier, executive chef at the National Arts Centre, participated in the 8th annual Taste For Hope fundraiser for the Shepherds of Good Hope held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillip

Taste For Hope is as much of a networking opportunity for the participating chefs as it is for the hundreds of attendees. Last year, Jim Foster, co-owner of Pelican Seafood Market & Grill, got acquainted with well-known chef Ben Baird at the fundraiser. He subsequently brought him on board as Pelican's executive chef. They were working the event together this year, along with Foster’s general manager son, Emile Roy-Foster. In a humorous effort to keep up with all the hipster, tattooed chefs in the room, the three guys had their own elaborate body art going, in the form of removable tattoo arm sleeves.

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From left, Pelican Seafood Market & Grill's Emile Roy-Foster, Ben Baird and Jim Foster, looking like tattooed hipsters, participated in the 8th annual Taste For Hope fundraiser for the Shepherds of Good Hope, held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips

The participating restaurants were: Bar Lupulus, Black Tartan Kitchen, The Bridge Public House, Coconut Lagoon, Delta Hotels by Marriott, E18hteen, Embassy Hotel & Suites, Andaz Hotel/Feast + Revel, Gray Jay, Grunt, Heart & Crown, National Arts Centre/1 Elgin Restaurant, NH 44, Ola Cocina, Pelican Seafood Market & Grill, Riviera, Thyme & Again and The Westin Ottawa.

Sous vide lamb loin, maple-braised pig’s cheek, a pork belly and scallop combo, yellowfin tuna crudo, and roasted beet tartare were just a few of the dishes creatively and carefully prepared that night by a mix of both up-and-coming and seasoned chefs, with a selection of beverages to wash the food down.

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Chef Jason McLelland with his wife and business partner, Marie McLelland, at the 8th annual Taste For Hope fundraiser for the Shepherds of Good Hope, held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips

DJ Emily Jones was back to keep the perfect musical vibe going throughout the evening while Ryan Watson from Raising the Bid sold off chefs' dinners, soapstone artwork and a custom-made parka made by Inuit chef Trudy Metcalfe.

Taste For Hope is produced by Robin Duetta

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From left, Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market general manager Matt Graham with the hotel's executive chef, Stephen La Salle (Feast + Revel), and Taste For Hope producer Robin Duetta, at the Horticulture Building. Photo by Caroline Phillips  
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Chef Jordan Holley (Riviera) with Sheila Whyte (Thyme & Again Creative Catering) participated in the 8th annual Taste For Hope fundraiser for the Shepherds of Good Hope, held at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips

New to this year’s fundraiser was a VIP reception sponsored by global executive recruitment firm Boyden and hosted by one of its partner, John Caminiti. His practice focuses on the not-for-profit sector. He was, in fact, involved with Freiheit being hired for her top management position at Shepherds of Good Hope, six years ago. “There are few people I know who are as loyally dedicated to an organization and its cause,” he said of Freiheit.

The reception was held in the firm’s nearby office, which overlooks the TD Place Stadium sports field. The yummy bites at the reception were prepared by Bar Lupulus Chef Justin Champagne.

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John Caminiti, a partner with executive search firm Boyden, with Shepherds of Good Hope president and CEO Deirdre Freiheit, address their roomful of guests at a VIP reception Boyden hosted at its office at Lansdowne, as part of the Taste For Hope benefit for Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Andrea Laurin and her husband, Dennis Laurin, owner of Laurin General Contractor, with their son, Max Laurin, and his fiancée, Natasha Molnar, at a VIP reception hosted by Boyden as part of the Taste For Hope benefit for Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Guy Samson, corporate director of purchasing with presenting sponsor Ideal Roofing and Sandra Jean, an executive assistant at the firm, at a VIP reception held as part of the Taste For Hope benefit for Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From executive search firm Boyden are, from left, Cameron Morrison with managing partner Mike Naufal, Claire Leroux and Paul Marshall, at a VIP reception hosted by Boyden at its office at Lansdowne as part of the Taste For Hope benefit for Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Ian Shabinsky from sponsor Glenview was back to support the cause, joined by his wife, Melissa Shabinsky. She co-chaired last December's successful Grinch Dinner benefit, also involving local chefs, with Gowling WLG partner John Peters. He's been a staunch supporter of the organization for decades now.

Also helping out was Ottawa businesswoman Carole Saad, owner of sponsor LouLou Lounge Furniture Rental.

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Melissa Shabinsky with her husband, Ian Shabinsky, principal and vice-president with sponsor Glenview Management, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser held for Shepherds of Good Hope at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, John Peters, who's on the board of both the Shepherds of Good Hope and the Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation, with incoming SGH board chair Tom Burrow, a mortgage agent with Mortgage Brokers Ottawa, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Carole Saad, owner of LouLou Lounge Furniture Rental, with Lindsay Ventzke, events co-ordinator at 50 Sussex, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Sponsors also included Colliers Project Leaders project management firm, which is involved with the SGH’s construction of a brand new 42-unit, apartment-style supportive housing building on Montreal Rd, east of the Aviation Parkway. The place should be ready for occupancy this fall and will mark the organization’s fifth supportive housing residence in Ottawa. 

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From left, Colliers Project Leaders senior project manager Michael LeBlanc, with Shepherds of Good Hope president and CEO Deirdre Freiheit and Sam Murray, an associate project manager with corporate sponsor Colliers Project Leaders, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Mayor Jim Watson attended the benefit, as did city councillors Catherine McKenney (Somerset Ward) and Mathieu Fleury (Rideau-Vanier Ward), along with Stéphane Giguère, CEO of Ottawa Community Housing.

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From left, Ross Meredith, general manager of The Westin Ottawa, with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser held for the Shepherds of Good Hope at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Stéphane Giguère, CEO of Ottawa Community Housing, with Ottawa city councillor Catherine McKenney, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser held for the Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Robin Duetta, who produces the annual Taste For Hope fundraiser, with Steve Ball, president of the Ottawa Gatineau Hotel Association and a member of the board with the Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, retired Royal Ottawa nursing executive Margaret Tansey, outgoing board chair for the Shepherds of Good Hope, with fellow board members Laurel Johnson, a lawyer with the Department of Justice Canada, and Murray Knowles, who recently retired as an inspector with Ottawa Police Services, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation board member Kaveh Rikhtegar with Stephen Assaly, Mehrdad Azadeh and Greg Guy at the eighth annual Taste For Hope fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation board member Ryan Kilger, a lawyer with Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP, with Lucie Martin, Roundell Wealth Management's Jenna Roundell and Mark Roundell, who's also on the SGH Foundation board, at Taste For Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa city councillor Mathieu Fleury with Shepherds of Good Hope president and CEO Deirdre Freiheit and John Peters, a partner at Gowling WLG, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Ryan Watson from Raising the Bid was back as the live auctioneer at the Taste For Hope fundraiser held for the Shepherds of Good Hope. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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DJ Emily Jones, at the Taste For Hope fundraiser held for the Shepherds of Good Hope at the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne on Wednesday, March 4, 2020. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca