Volunteer Profile

From Farms to Forks 10: Meet Chef Shobna Kannusamy

On October 6th, we are hosting our 10th annual From Farms to Forks harvest kitchen party at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Our guests will wander from kitchen to kitchen to watch chefs in action, meet growers, and enjoy delicious tasting plates - each paired with a different wine from Mission Hill Family Estate.

From Farms to Forks pairs some of the province’s BEST CHEFS with B.C.'s FINEST GROWERS AND PRODUCERS. From Farms to Forks is Growing Chefs’ biggest fundraising event of the year and we hope to raise $70,000 this year to support our 2019/2020 Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program.

One of these featured chefs is PASTRY CHEF SHOBNA KANNUSAMY of Soirette Pastry Boutique who is paired with Sapo Bravo Organics. She will be serving:

Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Macarons

Soirette is a magical jewel-box pastry shop in Vancouver specializing in macarons, cakes, and other desserts.

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What is your favourite seasonal vegetable?

“English Peas.”

What is your favourite local ingredient?

“Cherries.”

What advice can you give to a child who wants to become a chef?

“Always follow your heart!”

What is the one kitchen tool you couldn't live without?

“My immersion Blender”

What is your favourite food memory from when you were a kid?

“Mum's Creme Caramel.”

Why do you believe programs like Growing Chefs! are important?

“It introduces kids to the wonderful variety of whole foods and how awesome it is!”

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Thank you Chef Shobna, and thank you Mavreen David Photography for capturing these beautiful photographs for us!

See you at #FFTF10!

From Farms to Forks 10: Meet Chef Karen McAthy

On October 6th, we are hosting our 10th annual From Farms to Forks harvest kitchen party at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Our guests will wander from kitchen to kitchen to watch chefs in action, meet growers, and enjoy delicious tasting plates - each paired with a different wine from Mission Hill Family Estate.

From Farms to Forks pairs some of the province’s BEST CHEFS with B.C.'s FINEST GROWERS AND PRODUCERS. From Farms to Forks is Growing Chefs’ biggest fundraising event of the year and we hope to raise $70,000 this year to support our 2019/2020 Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program.

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One of these featured chefs is CHEF KAREN MCATHY of Blue Heron Creamery who is paired with Hazelmere Organic Farm & BRAD HENDRICKSON of Biota Fermentation. They will be serving:

Jalapeño Poppers
Blue Heron garlic scape cumulus cheese, Biota fermented jalapeño, savoury granola crisp

Blue Heron Creamery produces plant-based, cultured and aged products. They sell 100% dairy-free cheeses, butters, yogurt and preserves

Photo Credit: Mavreen David Photography

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What are your favourite seasonal vegetables?

“In spring, asparagus and nettles. In summer, tomato and B.C. kelp. In Fall/Winter, Brussels sprouts.”

What is your favourite meal to cook for yourself?

“Eating peas, radishes, fresh lettuce, tomatoes and more straight from the garden.”

What advice can you give to a child who wants to become a chef?

“Be willing to learn. Be willing to work hard. Be willing to challenge yourself and be challenged. Drink a lot of water.”

Why do you believe programs like Growing Chefs! are important?

“Connecting youth to how food is grown and produced is fundamentally important, and likely at some point to be revolutionary. The disconnect in urban populations around how food is produced and transformed is mind-boggling. Programs like Growing Chefs! provide an important opportunity to engage youth at a stage when curiosity is still rich and imagination can be stimulated.“

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Thank you Chef Karen, and thank you Mavreen David Photography for capturing these beautiful photographs for us!

See you at #FFTF10!

From Farms to Forks 10: Meet Bartender Amber Bruce

On October 6th, we are hosting our 10th annual From Farms to Forks harvest kitchen party at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Our guests will wander from kitchen to kitchen to watch chefs in action, meet growers, and enjoy delicious tasting plates - each paired with a different wine from Mission Hill Family Estate.

From Farms to Forks pairs some of the province’s BEST CHEFS with B.C.'s FINEST GROWERS AND PRODUCERS. From Farms to Forks is Growing Chefs’ biggest fundraising event of the year and we hope to raise $70,000 this year to support our 2019/2020 Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program.

In addition to chefs, two incredible bartenders are also participating in our event including award-winning BARTENDER AMBER BRUCE of The Keefer Bar who is paired with Long Table Distillery and Earnest Ice Cream. Along with the dessert course, Amber will mix:

Briar Patch Fizz with Long Table Gin
Earnest vegan blackberry juniper ice cream

What is your favourite seasonal vegetable?

“Yams!”

What are your favourite local ingredients?

“Kelp and honey!”

What is the one kitchen tool you couldn't live without?

“My veggie peeler.”

What advice can you give to a child who wants to become a chef?

“Taste, taste, taste! Expanding your palate will help you find new and exciting flavours and combinations.”

Why do you believe Growing Chefs! is important?

“Cultivating our next generation of chefs will enhance and strengthen our local food culture and identity.”

Thank you Amber and thank you Mavreen David Photography for capturing these beautiful photographs for us!

See you at #FFTF10! Cheers.

From Farms to Forks 10: Meet Chef Ken Nakano

On October 6th, we are hosting our 10th annual From Farms to Forks harvest kitchen party at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Our guests will wander from kitchen to kitchen to watch chefs in action, meet growers, and enjoy delicious tasting plates - each paired with a different wine from Mission Hill Family Estate.

From Farms to Forks pairs some of the province’s BEST CHEFS with B.C.'s FINEST GROWERS AND PRODUCERS. From Farms to Forks is Growing Chefs’ biggest fundraising event of the year and we hope to raise $70,000 this year to support our 2019/2020 Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program.

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One of these featured chefs is CHEF KEN NAKANO of Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel who is paired with Cherry Lane Farms. He will be serving:

Smoked Yarrow Meadows Duck
Belle de Boskoop confit, Vadouvan pumpkin espuma, puffed granola

When did you realize you wanted to become a chef?

“The lessons learned in my youth while foraging for wild foods with my family surfaced and inspired me to pursue a career that allows me to express myself by creating and recreating flavours from my various memories and experiences.”

What is your favourite seasonal ingredient?

“Matsutake mushrooms. I love them!”

What are your favourite local ingredients?

“Springtime local Bracken Ferns and Butterbur.”

What advice can you give to a child who wants to become a chef?

 “Taste everything; don’t be afraid to try different foods.”

What is your favourite meal to cook for yourself?

“Okonomiyaki. It is very comforting, easy, and delicious.”

 What is your favourite food memory from when you were a kid?

“Osechi-Ryori. The traditional foods prepared to celebrate New Year’s Day.”

 Lastly, what is something people may not guess about you?

“I am an avid motorcycle enthusiast!”

Thank you Chef Ken and thank you Mavreen David Photography for capturing these beautiful photographs for us!

See you at #FFTF10!

Happy Birthday to you and Growing Chefs!

This summer, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that classroom volunteer Vanessa Leung was fundraising for Growing Chefs! for her birthday! Thanks so much, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Vanessa!

Contact Jaydeen if you would like more information about how to donate your birthday! Read on to meet Vanessa!

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What about Growing Chefs resonates with you?

When I learned about Growing Chefs! my heart jumped out with a strong “YES!” I knew I had to get involved.

When I left home at 18, I only knew how to boil vegetables, pre-made dumplings and instant noodles. Years after, I still didn’t have the drive to learn how to cook a proper meal! My friends would have to bring cookware and utensils if they wanted to make dinner at my place.

For most of my life, I relied on and indulged in processed foods as a way to cover up hard emotions. It was not until my health took a toll, did realize that I had the ability to take care of myself and use whole foods as medicine! It was like diving into a black hole of self-healing and clarity. By then, I could only wish that I had this knowledge earlier in my life.

Growing Chefs! serves that very wish - My hope for kids of all ages to have access to tools to help them feel empowered to make healthy choices for themselves. Growing Chefs! curriculum cultivates curiosity, community and creativity for the kids PLUS it’s so much FUN!

What is your favourite Growing Chefs! lesson?

They are all my favourite, but if I had to choose one it would be vegetable sharing circle. I’ve always believed that sharing is empowering and in this class the kids get to share a sneak peak into their classmate’s favourite meals at home and get to learn about vegetables from all over the world.

I think just being in the presence of their pure excitement and joy over every class is moving to me. This year, the class sang “Here Comes the Sun” while we were cleaning up after a class. It was a perfect way to wrap up a Growing Chefs! class and a memory I’ll hold dear to me forever.

Do you have a garden at home?

Yes I do! I live in a condo and we have planter boxes surrounding the perimeter of our humble balcony. It does the job! We get a constant supply of kale, cilantro and herbs. Even my dog, Barley, gets to have his share of kale!

What's your favourite vegetable?

My favourite vegetable is broccoli! I love it as a salad with other bright coloured vegetables, stir-fried with loads of garlic or roasted with lemon juice. I eat EVERYTHING, right down the stems. The stems are the most nutritious part!

What's your favourite seasonal recipe?

My favourite seasonal recipe would be sea asparagus with pasta. I just stir-fry the sea asparagus, add fresh minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil and toss with brown rice pasta of choice. Super simple and delicious!

Last year your business, 80/20 Living & Company made a donation to Growing Chefs! Tell us a little more about the work you do?

80/20 Living & Company is a space where people would feel inspired and learn tools to live a conscious and intentional life full of abundance. Through coaching and training, I guide creative entrepreneurs to work through their fears and connect to their body mind and spirit so they can feel confident about who they are and what they do. They learn how to stop wasting time and energy so they can start focusing on loving and sharing their gifts.

My big vision is to start a life school for families where families can connect by learning and sharing together.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I’ve always been inspired by kids and their wisdom. All they require is the space to share their creativity and wisdom. I’ve learned so much from the kids over the past 3 years, it has been the root of my inspiration in starting the life school for families.

I think that the work that Growing Chefs! is doing is so monumental in the future for our community. Thank you for setting the path and being a leader for healing changes!

Volunteer Spotlight: Magnus Thomas

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And for our last volunteer spotlight during National Volunteer Appreciation Week we would like to introduce you to Magnus - a new volunteer in the classroom this Fall.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? Where are you from?
”I work as a cook in a Seafood Restaurant called Oddfish in Kitsilano. I'm from Germany and moved to Vancouver in 2017. “

How did you first hear about Growing Chefs!?
“I heard about Growing Chefs from the Half A Dozen Hospitality Podcast.”

Why did you decide to volunteer in the classroom with us? And why do you feel programs like Growing Chefs! are important?
“I decided to Volunteer, because I like the idea of educating people about food. There is not enough education about it in our society. We overall don't eat very healthy but it doesn't take a lot to be healthy. We just need to change our habits around food.”

What is your favourite seasonal vegetable?
”My favourite vegetable is broccoli.”

If you could cook and share a meal with anyone (living or dead) who would it be and why?
”If i could could cook and share a meal with somebody it would be my mother in law who was a passionate cook and we enjoyed cooking together. She always liked to tell me how i was supposed to cook it though.“

What is your favourite meal to prepare for yourself?
”I like to make simple Pastas. You can be very creative with it. It's different every time.”

Thank you to ALL our volunteers. Our program would not happen without you! It takes over 200 volunteers to bring our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program to schools throughout the Lower Mainland and Victoria.

Volunteer Spotlight: Krista Ettles

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To continue celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we would like to introduce you to Krista. She is a longtime volunteer who has taken the last few years off of volunteering in the classroom to build her food entrepreneur career via Nourished & Whole, but now she is back and ready to plant some seeds in the classroom.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? Where are you from?
My name is Krista and I’m an entrepreneur, cook, teacher, recipe developer, and food blogger. I teach people how to cook better at home and make food fun again! I’m passionate about food and love to inspire people to get back into their kitchens. Besides food, I love hiking, beach volleyball and anything outdoors really. I’m a born and raised local and grew up in White Rock.

Why did you decide to volunteer again in the classroom with us?
I’ve done the program before and absolutely love teaching the kids about food. It’s so great to see them get excited about growing their own food and trying different things. It’s such a fun experience!

What is your favourite seasonal vegetable?
There’s so many to choose from but I’d have to say asparagus for Spring.

If you could cook and share a meal with anyone (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Hands down Julia Child. I’d love to sit down and hear about her life in person. She was such a pioneer in the food world and as a woman. She’s someone I admire and is definitely a role model for me.

What is your favourite meal to prepare for yourself?
Again so many choices but I’d probably say some sort of salmon dish. I do a really good maple balsamic marinade. Simple but delicious! My brother is also a fishing guide so I’m lucky to get out and catch the fish myself!

Why do you feel programs like Growing Chefs! are important?
I think it’s so important kids are taught the importance of cooking and where our food comes from. It’s something that’s definitely getting lost in our world of fast food so I think cooking is a life skill that we need to be teaching kids…..and ourselves. Being conscious about our food choices and where it comes from has a huge impact on our health, our planet and our communities and I think it’s a must that we teach our kids this for future generations. 

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Thank you Krista, and thank you to all of our volunteers!

Volunteer Spotlight: Brennen Murray

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Our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program is 100% delivered by our wonderful volunteers. We literally could not do what we do without the generous support of our volunteers who not only donate their time but their knowledge. Since it is National Volunteer Week and we have the BEST volunteers, we want to highlight a few. First off is a first-time volunteer (with us), Brennen Murray.

Hi! Tell us a little about yourself.
”Hello! My name is Brennen Murray. I've worked in coffee and food for over ten years, am a barista and a cook at Renfrew Park Community Centre as well as with The Kidsafe Project. I am interested in food sovereignty, urban farming, and localized food systems. I live in a communal home on Victoria Drive where we work to build a closer, sharing community and learn more about growing things.”

We hear you're a worm guy. Tell us more!
”When I first moved to Vancouver and started becoming an urban gardener, I found container gardening to be inefficient and needing constant fertilizing and found myself wishing for the compost pile that was always rotating around the backyard I grew up with. A little bit of research brought me to the City Farmer Vermicomposting Program, which I recommend to anyone wishing to recycle their food scraps into healthy soil for growing things. My initial $25 dollar kit has grown over the years into several bins of worms feeding off the food scraps from a household of six and giving a welcome dose of organic soil every 6 months as well as compost tea (fertilizer) that can be used at any time.”

How did you hear about Growing Chefs?
”I came across Growing Chefs! in the fall while looking for ways to get involved in food security and food sovereignty.”

What made you interested in volunteering with us?
”With The Kidsafe Project, it is my responsibility to feed kids at my site during school breaks, but also to teach them about nutrition and the foods we eat. Growing Chefs! has a great curriculum that teaches kids all about growing food and ways to use it. I'm excited to watch kids interact with food in such a hands on manner and bring that excitement for food to the kids at Kidsafe.”

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What's your favourite seasonal vegetable?
”Summertime: cucumbers, for the crisp, juicy bite fresh off the plant. Wintertime: Brussels Sprouts, because they grow all winter and just keep getting better.”

What is your earliest food-related memory?
”Either walking down the tall narrow rows of strung up peas in my mother’s garden, harvesting thick pods into a colander and often opening the pods and eating the peas fresh; or tip-toeing in the strawberry patch, turning the berries over to see which ones had ripened all the way around and were ready for eating.”

How did your first lesson in the classroom go?
”It was incredible! We examined seeds and their full grown vegetable form, planted the seeds, and imagined and hoped for a beautiful growing garden. I was definitely just as excited as the kids and can't wait to get back into the classroom for lesson two.”

Thank you so much Brennen - we (and your class) are lucky to have you.

Stay tuned this week for more volunteer spotlights.

Volunteer Profile: Chef Jason

We love the enthusiasm that our volunteers bring into the classroom, and we’re especially excited when we get to support volunteers through their own professional growth. Thank you Chef Jason for all you have given us. Your future students are lucky to have you!

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Jason, how did you first hear about us?

I heard about Growing Chefs! on Twitter in 2014. I was just flipping through and a chef I follow had tweeted about it so I clicked on the tweet and link, and read up about it. After reading about it I thought it was something I’d like to help out with. 

When you’re not in the classroom role of “Chef Jason”, what are you up to?

Currently I’m in school to become a secondary school teacher, specifically a teaching chef in the cafeteria. As part of the Bachelor of Education program, we are to do a 3 week Community Field Experience where we can choose from quite an extensive list of places to volunteer at, with a focus on school-aged children.  When I saw Growing Chefs! was on the list I jumped at the opportunity to be able to work with them again as my previous experiences were awesome! 

What about Growing Chefs! makes you return as a volunteer?

The curriculum is so well thought out and easy to present and engaging, not just for the students but for volunteers also. The excitement of the students as you are walking towards the classroom and entering it is great. Teachers are always asking how to get it into their own classrooms and I think that’s a testament to their thoughts and feelings about the program and how it enriches the students' experience.

And the students are great. They have tons of questions and are truly interested in what we are looking to teach them. Seeing them excited about vegetables and trying vegetables that they normally wouldn’t experience is also a neat experience.

If someone is on the fence about volunteering, what would you say to them?

The program is extremely well set up. The Growing Chefs! team puts all volunteers through a training session where they give you the binder with the curriculum in it. It is all the lesson plans, materials, and tips and hints on working with school-aged children. It’s so well laid out and definitely, after going through the training session, I was set at ease.