Sunday, October 16 is World Food Day, a day of action against hunger on a global scale. It celebrates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), whose core mission is achieving global food security. World Food Day is a day where people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime.
Growing Chefs!‘s vision is a world with healthy, sustainable food practices and our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Programs are designed to teach children and their families about these practices. We stand with many other organizations working tirelessly to do the same, at all parts of the food cycle, and we believe that every day should be World Food Day, as no one should have to go hungry.
This year’s theme is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too,” focusing on the impact of a changing environment on food security.
Farmers are already dealing with climate change-related challenges, such as higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, shifting growing seasons, and extreme weather events. Agriculture is at the center of climate change-related issues; being the most impacted by climate change while at the same time being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. However, this means food production can also play a major role in reducing the effects of climate change and as such we are already seeing a shift in farming practices and consumer sourcing.
We can all do our part – growing our own gardens, sourcing from local, sustainable farms, and making informed food choices.
To recognize #WorldFoodDay, and to inspire you to think more about where our food comes from, we have put together this list of a few food documentaries to check out this weekend.
Who it’s for: Those that really want an inside look at food production in the US.
About: An Academy Award-nominated American documentary film that examines corporate farming in the United States. Its focus is on the environmental, social, economic, and health impacts of agribusiness. While jarring at times, the film does offer a surprisingly hopeful message: Making informed food purchases really does matter.
Note: Sequences of this film do show industrial animal farms and practices that may be disturbing to some viewers and may not be suitable for small children.
Who it’s for: Those interested in food security issues.
About: Not just talking to experts about food security, this film goes to the source visiting different “food desert” communities, such as the urban streets of Philadelphia and a rural town in Colorado. The filmmakers talk directly with the families there who live on extremely limited incomes with poor access to food. Not only focusing on the issues, this film also highlights local food heroes and many inspiring individuals who are working to help.
Who it’s for: Anyone interested in the fascinating networks and impacts of bees.
About: We’d be remiss not to include a film about the impact of bees on food production. The bees are disappearing, and if they go the impacts on our world food supply would be huge. The cinematography in this film is simply stunning as the filmmakers draw you into the intimate world of the bees while describing the plight they face.
Who it’s for: Those with an interest in the growing local food movement.
About: Growers, restaurateurs, and consumers across the United States share their insights and methods for growing the local food movement. If you love thought leaders of the locavore movement like Alice Waters and Peter Hoffman you will enjoy this film as they discuss their experience with local food while drawing attention to the dangers of America’s industrialized food system. A beautiful film about how we can bring our food production back home.
Who it’s for: Anyone interested in food waste issues and solutions.
About: An award-winning, B.C. produced film that emerged after the producers discovered that while one in ten people in North America go hungry, collectively we are throwing out nearly 50% of our food. Expiry dates, perfect produce, portion sizes, Just Eat It brings together farmers, organizations, and consumers to reveal the issue of food waste and its sources while examining its devastating consequences around the globe.
Growing Chefs! Program Coordinator
On Sunday, October 2nd we held our annual Harvest Kitchen Party, From Farms to Forks 7! We were once again joined by an amazing group of local chefs, growers, and vineyards to welcome 150 guests to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts to enjoy great food and drink and help raise funds for Growing Chefs!
We invite you to relive the evening with us thanks to our wonderful photographers Olivia Sari-Goerlach of OSG Photography and partner Ben Goerlach. Additional photos provided by Michelle Sproule of Scout Magazine.
Our guests were welcomed to the party with sparkling wine and canapés including Turmeric Panisse by chef Alessandra Quaglia of Provence Marinaside and Covert Farms, as well as Pulled Jackfruit Steamed Buns by chef Rob Clark from the anticipated soon-to-be-opened restaurant, The Arbor by The Acorn, made with fresh vegetables from Klippers Organics.
Our friends, chef Morgan & chef Edison, from Pier 73 offered an incredible ice block Ploughman’s Table full of pickled & preserved vegetables from Hazelmere Organics, smoked Golden Ears Cheese Crafters cheeses, seafood ceviche, jerky, and foie gras with quince jam thanks to Gelderman Farms.
Mixologist Dylan Williams of Bambudda and Ms. Better’s Bitters created an impressive Scarlet Sour cocktail with concord grape puree from Stoney Paradise Farms and Sin Gin from Gillespie’s Fine Spirits.
Emcees Fred Lee & Margaret Gallahger joined us again this year in welcoming our guests, leading the nights events, and introducing our Growing Chefs! Charles Dickens Elementary school students who shared their love of participating in our Classroom Gardening & Cooking program. The speeches portion of the evening also included Growing Chefs! founder, Merri Schwartz, who shared another amazing thank you poem dedicated to everyone that helped make our night a huge success. Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’ Executive Chef & Program Director, Julian Bond, announced the doors were open and everyone could be released into the kitchens!
Chef Gilles L’Heureux of Los Cuervos Taqueria & Cantina created a wonderful new favourite this year of Choripapa Taco using Helix Farm potatoes. Looks like he got some help in the kitchen from an extra special chef!
Guests were offered an assortment of amazing desserts including Ginger Cake with sungold tomato sorbet & vanilla ice cream by Chef Rhonda Viani of West made with produce from Mighty Pitchfork. Pastry chef Wendy Boys baked Classic Apple Pie with aurora golden gala caramel & vanilla chantilly using apples from Parsons Farm Market. Bella Gelateria arrived with their gelato cart offering three different hand-crafted gelato and sorbet flavours including a Seasonal Berry Vegan Sorbet thanks to Krause Berry Farm. All desserts were paired perfectly with fortified and ice wines and delicious teas from Namasthé.
Our guests were gifted decadent East Van Roasters cacoa nib toffee to take home.
Wine pairings were generously provided by Constellation Canada, and included:
Black Sage Vineyard Pipe
Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon
Inniskillin Discovery Series Chenin Blanc
Inniskillin Reisling Icewine
Jackson Triggs Reserve Shiraz
Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay
Sumac Ridge Pinot Noir
See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir
See Ya Later Ranch Riesling
See Ya Later Ranch Rover Shiraz
Beer was kindly provided by Moody Ales
The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts were once again wonderful hosts and we are always grateful for the amazing venue space. Our teams of chefs, restaurants, growers, volunteers, sponsors, media, emcees, producers, silent auction donors, and of course all of our guests, are what make From Farms to Forks the fabulous fundraiser it is. An extra special thank you to our sponsors Whole Foods, Pedersen’s, Artona, Scout Magazine, Edible Vancouver Magazine and Daily Hive.
We want to thank everyone who helped us make the evening a success. With your generous support, we raised over $20,000 in funds for our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program. This means we are able to give hundreds of B.C. kids hands-on experience growing and cooking their own healthy, nutritious food in the upcoming year.
We hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did and we look forward to seeing you next year!
View the full From Farms to Forks 7 Flickr photo album here.
Photo credit: OSG Photography
WOW! What an incredible night of canapés and cocktails, of wining and dining, and great fun for a great cause! We hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we did and all of us at Growing Chefs! send a huge thank you to everyone that helped make the night a huge success!
*Stay tuned for our photo essay to relive the night’s culinary adventures.
It’s our seventh gala, it’s our seventh poem,
We’ve stood here at PICA so long it’s our home.
So before I begin to thank every and each,
A quick round of applause for our hosts, I beseech.
Year in and year out, Chef Darren, Chef Julian,
Are here to ensure that the stews are a stewin’,
Their students are helpin’, their pots are a-boil,
So thanks above all for your help and your toil.
And what can I say, about our chef superstars?
We’re honoured to have you at an event such as ours.
You come out each year, to help with our vision,
And execute each dish with skill and precision.
But before chefs can work, someone grows all that food!
Our growers, our farmers, they all set the mood.
With their hands in the dirt and their hearts in the land,
This event is for them, it’s for them that we stand.
Our fabulous friends from team SVP,
Nick and all staff—Dara, Gina, Dempsey.
You come out in droves with support and with care,
It’s become that it wouldn’t be right weren’t you there.
Our Board of Directors, who are meeting and greeting,
You shape us and make us, the pot always sweetening.
And on that sweet note, Moody Ales, thanks for beer!
Your generous keg ensures our good cheer.
Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, for your gin we are grateful,
And Dylan, from Bambudda, in your hands oh so able.
From Natural Pastures our cheese, and from Terra our bread,
With you make sure each last mouth has been fed.
To Isabelle, “Namasthé” for your tea and your sodas,
You always supply delicious non-alcoholic quotas.
To Westjet for donating our sweet raffle prize,
Our media sponsors: Scout, Edible Vancouver, and Daily Hive.
Huge thanks to Paul, for your professional eye,
When things all work out, we’ll know that you’re why.
For our servers, and pourers of wine, and our kitchen,
Chris, Grace, and team it’s with you that we’re smitten.
To Ange and to David, l left you near last,
Without you here last year, it just wasn’t a blast.
Our students and dishwashers, you keep us together,
Thanks for your help, in fair or foul weather.
To the many whose gifts to our auction were donated,
You set the bar till the bids are abated.
I cannot wait till you meet Finn and Jade,
From Charles Dickens Elementary, these kids will AMAZE!
To Helen, for guidance, you came when we called,
You hands full with Nico, you still stayed involved.
Jaydeen, for your leadership, for stepping on up,
That’s it, that’s the last one! Now go fill your cup.
– Merri Schwartz (Growing Chefs! founder)
Zucchini Leek Pancakes
I love growing zucchini in my garden. It grows so well and is abundant. I also love that these pancakes are dairy free and easy to make. They contain 4 main ingredients: zucchini, leek, eggs and flour. I have added other ingredients to the recipe to add flavour!
2 medium zucchini
1-2 to 3/4 of a leek (or 1 1/2 cup green onion)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp dill
Pinch of cayenne powder
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp turmeric powder (optional)
Coconut or oil of choice for frying
- Grate the zucchini (I like to cut it and put it in the food processor using the grater blade) and put the grated zucchini in a large bowl. Add at least 2 tbsp of salt. This will pull the water out of the zucchini. (When the salt is squeezed out the pancakes are less wet). Leave the zucchini and salt to sit for about 20 minutes so the water is drawn out.
- While waiting for the water to draw out of the zucchini, finely chop the leek or green onion.
- After 20 minutes, use your hands to squeeze the water out of the grated zucchini. Do this in little handfuls at a time.
- When you have drained all of the zucchini, add it back to the large bowl and add the eggs, flour, and the rest of the spices. Mix well.
- Heat up a large frying pan to medium heat. Once hot, add spoonfuls of the batter at a time. Flatten out to about 1 cm thickness. Fry about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
- Enjoy with dairy free or regular Parmesan cheese or tzatiki, or by themselves.
Photo credit: OSG Photography
Back to School means Growing Chefs! is heading back into the classroom! This fall we are sending more of our amazing chef volunteer teams into grade 4-6 classrooms to deliver our Intermediate Cooking & Gardening Program.
One of our favourite Intermediate activities is around Food Miles; the distance that food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased/consumed. The more food miles, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is.
We try to encourage kids in our classrooms to think about where their food comes from, and hope they encourage their families to do the same. To help you make some local choices this September, we have partnered up with Two Rivers Specialty Meats and SPUD.
Two Rivers Specialty Meats – Click and order. Pick it up from their North Vancouver location on October 13 or 14 and 15% of your order will be donated to Growing Chefs!
SPUD – Click and create an account. Order from the selection of produce boxes (we suggest the local box). It can be delivered to your home or office and 25% of your produce box order will be donated to Growing Chefs!
THANK YOU! Happy back to school!
Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips
This recipe came about after planting way too much kale in my garden. I was putting kale into my smoothies, salads, stir frys and more. I had so much kale I didn’t know what to do with it. So I decided to try making kale chips for the first time. Now I wasn’t going to be satisfied with just any kale chips. I wanted to make them taste delicious, indulgent, and cheezy! This recipe meets all of those standards, and is truly a crowd pleaser.
1 large bunch of kale
1 cup cashews soaked for several hours
½ cup nutritional yeast
½ of a lemon juiced
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic
- Set your oven on the lowest setting (180 degrees) or use a dehydrator.
- Wash and cut the kale into chip size pieces. Dry in a salad spinner (easiest way).
- In a blender, blend the cashews (drained after soaking), nutritional yeast, lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic until smooth. (I don’t use any water but if your blender is not very powerful you may need a few tablespoons of water to get it going).
- Put the kale in a big bowl and pour the cheeze mixture over top. Mix until all of the kale is covered.
- Line the oven pan with parchment paper, and layer the kale on it so that it is not overlapping.
- Dehydrate for about 4 hours, until crispy. Kale chips can be stored in a large ziplock bag for a week or more.
- Enjoy your delicious, healthy snack!
It’s summer and a perfect time to reflect on the incredible time we had this school year! If you missed our mid-program check-in in May we reported on the first half of our lessons in the classroom this spring.
Please join us now in reading our photo recap below to see what the students learned in lessons 4-7 and our volunteer appreciation farm party.
Lesson 4 began with introducing students to different varieties of leafy greens – spinach, watercress, mustard greens and more! The kids were very excited to taste all the different flavours, including some of the greens from their own gardens.
The class then read the book, How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods by Saxton Freymann, which illustrates how vegetables can be used to express emotions. Students then had the chance to create their own vegetable characters to express their emotions and even our volunteers got in on the fun!
In Lesson 5, students learned all about the health benefits they gain when they eat vitamin-filled veggies!
The chefs demonstrated how to make a tasty salad dressing and taught students how to follow a recipe. Students then harvested greens from their garden to make their very own vitamin-packed healthy salad.
Some students harvested what they had grown in their gardens, while others shelled peas, shred spinach, broke broccoli, and set up for our in-class picnic.
After preparing all the ingredients, the class watched the chefs make a soup and helped make a stir fry. Everyone then got to enjoy the food during their in-class picnic. Being able to harvest, prepare, and cook their own food was what the classes had been building up to all year, and it was a truly rewarding experience for all of the students, teachers, and chef volunteers!
Thank you to all the teachers and schools who participated this year and especially to our amazing volunteers! If you’re interested in volunteering, find out more and sign up on our website today!
This year at Growing Chefs! we were so lucky to be joined by amazing teacher candidates from UBC’s Faculty of Education as part of their Community Field Experience program. For 3 weeks, these students join us in the classroom and in our office to help us coordinate, deliver, and improve our classroom gardening and cooking program. We are pleased to introduce student teacher, Isabel Trzcinski, below!
Hi, my name is Isabel Trzcinski. I’m a student at the University of British Columbia currently working towards my Bachelor of Education to become an elementary school teacher.
I joined Growing Chefs! as part of my community practicum experience. Right when I read what Growing Chefs! was about, I knew I wanted to spend my practicum with them. Over the last few years, I have devoted myself to health and nutrition. A few years ago I made a commitment to eat only raw food. This was such a powerful experience for my health, and I’ve learned healthy habits that will last me a lifetime. I started a raw vegan Youtube channel called Bela Rawfood, and an Instagram account called @bela_plantfood where I have the opportunity to share raw vegan recipes that I’ve created.
My family and I also take a lot of pride in our garden. Every year we enjoy growing tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, kale, beets, and much more. It is such a wonderful feeling to be able to pull a variety of vegetables from your garden and make a meal out of it. I hope that through my blog entries I can share my love of cooking, gardening, and healthy eating.
I hope to apply some of the knowledge shared through the Growing Chefs! program in my classroom when I am a teacher. I look forward to anything that I can contribute to this wonderful cause. I believe educating children about health and nutrition at an early age sets the stage for a lot of their lifestyle habits later on. As we see fast food and processed junk increasing, it is vital for children to be as informed as possible about healthy choices.
Thank you, Isabelle!
In the 2015/16 school year Growing Chefs! created our Adopt-a-Classroom program that allows supporters to directly fund the entire cost of one or more classroom. This way of support allowed us to connect them directly to a class and see the difference their gift truly makes. Whole Foods has supported Growing Chefs! over the years in a number of ways, including their 5% Day, and were the first to commit to adopting classrooms for our spring 2016 program. This year they sponsored Mount Pleasant Elementary in East Vancouver where they generously chose to support two classes. We want to thank them for their continued commitment to our program and helping to create life-long healthy eaters!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and Whole Foods and why Whole Foods wanted to get involved with Growing Chefs!.
My name is Grant Daisley and I am the Associate Marketing Coordinator for Whole Foods Market in Western Canada. I began working for Whole Foods Market in 2012, and I’m thrilled to share my passion for local, natural food.
Whole Foods Market is a company that believes in making a difference in every community where we do business. We have three non profit foundations that are part of Whole Foods Market. Of the three, the Whole Kids Foundation allows us to offer grants in three areas: school and community garden grants, salad bars, and healthy eating education training for teachers. Growing Chefs! is such a great compliment to these areas!
Why do you think a program like Growing Chefs! is important in a community like Vancouver?
Food is a vital part of our lives, and educating kids at a young age about where food comes from, the work involved in producing it, and what to do with it once it’s harvested, sets the stage for a positive relationship with food and the environment.
Why do you personally choose to support Growing Chefs!?
I grew up pulling carrots from the ground and eating them – it’s a taste that I can remember like it was yesterday – and it’s an experience that every child should have, however, not everyone will.
Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn about growing and cooking their own food?
Two reasons: First, the more that kids understand food; where it comes from, how to prepare it, different options, etc, the more likely they are to try new things. Second, food isn’t just about sustenance, it can be a journey into new cultures and traditions, an experiment in the kitchen, or something that brings different people together.
What stands out to you the most about the program?
I love that Growing Chefs!’ partners with the chef community, which makes the impact twofold – Kids get the education, and the volunteers get to make a difference in their local schools and communities
What’s your favourite vegetables to grow, cook, and/or eat?
It’s always been Snaps Peas.
With the help and support of the Island Chefs’ Collaborative, Growing Chefs! has had the wonderful opportunity of bringing our Classroom Gardening and Cooking program to Vancouver Island. This spring was our fourth year on the island and we were able to offer our program to three Victoria elementary schools.
During the week of May 30th to June 3rd, 2016 all three Growing Chefs! classes in Victoria had the opportunity to go on an rural and urban farm tour thanks to the generosity of Meat and Bread, who covered the cost of the buses and provided a tasty lunch to students, volunteers, and staff.
All three classes started their tour at Roost Farm Bakery, a 10 acre farm located out in North Saanich. The students learned about growing, harvesting, storing, and milling wheat. They got to see the grapes and blueberries also growing on the farm. We got to look at the golden pheasant and all the chickens, and met a turkey named “Knobbie” who has quite a checkered past. Our host, Denise, arranged for a neighboring farm to bring over one of their horses and all the kids got a chance to help groom and pet the horse. One of the highlights of the tour was firing a rubber chicken out of the “chicken cannon” across the farmyard. Our trip to Roost wrapped up with a delicious cookie made with some of the wheat from the farm.
The next stop for the kids from Quadra Elementary was at the urban farm Topsoil. The kids were amazed by the huge variety of vegetables being grown and harvested for local restaurants. The highlights for the students were picking and eating their own baby carrots and learning about the zero emission methods the farm uses to deliver their just-picked produce. Our host Chris was a wealth of information on the growing practices used on the farm and hopes to work with Growing Chefs! in the future. The students were amazed that so much food could be grown in such little space. They were very proud to tell Chris about what they were doing to grow food in their own urban spaces!
The two classes from Victoira West Elementary stopped at Mason Street City Farm. Theirs is a market farm that is a more traditional farm but in an urban setting – and on just a quarter acre! They have beautiful ponds full of Koi and Goldfish. Our host, Steph, was a wealth of information which was a good thing as she had lots of questions to answer.
In true Growing Chefs! spirit all of the kids tried something new to eat when we visit Meat and Bread. There were lots of full tummies and happy faces as the kids headed back on the bus for the trip home!
We would like to thank all of the individuals and companies that helped make these amazing experiences possible for our students. Meat & Bread, Roost Farm Bakery, Topsoil, Mason Street City Farm, the P.A.C’s from Victoria West Elementary and Quadra Elementary, the bus drivers from Garden City Transport, our amazing teachers who bring us into their classrooms, and of course the fantastic volunteers that make the program possible. A HUGE SHOUT OUT to you all!
Chef Andrew Paumier
Growing Chefs! Program Assistant, Victoria & Island Chefs’ Collaborative Director