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Réseau d'entraide collective kitchen canning group

Every year at the harvest I go pick what’s left in the fields of D-Trois Pierres and come back to Montreal to can part of the harvest left-overs with the Réseau d’entraide and the other half with my dinner club. This year D-Trois Pierres didn’t have any surplus in the fields, so my whole model was thrown off kilter a few weeks before the end of the growing season. I have also been working part-time at Chez Doris (a day centre for homeless women) and giving cooking workshops once a month with CFAD (Continuité famille auprès des détenues). That meant that I had more partners to make preserves with and less produce to make it with!


I started by sending an e-mail to Lufa and thanks to the wonderful Erica Dancose who contacted their partners we received: cucumbers, peppers, carrots, beets amongst other things!

The Goods- Thank you to the farms that donated!

The Goods- Thank you to the farms that donated!

Then I got in touch with my close friend and celebrity organic urban farmer Judith Colombo and she hooked me up with La Ferme Belle Roche and La ferme co-op des Champs qui chantent in Lachute. We drove out with my mom who was visiting and picked parsnips, carrots, kale, herbs, swiss chard, green tomatoes, sorrel and hot peppers! Heather from Le co-op des champs qui chantent even had a hot bowl of soup for us! I think it was colder at the beginning of November than it is now!

Here is Judith Colombo farmer extraordinaire, my Mom (Chemical engineer)  and Dina Honke blogger (and lawyer) at all on the Montreal Living Table: healthy and sustainable food tour (on the roof of Santropol Roulant)

Here is Judith Colombo farmer extraordinaire, my Mom and Dina Honke blogger at all on the Montreal Living Table: healthy and sustainable food tour (on the roof of Santropol Roulant)

This year was bigger and badder. Changing farms and enlarging the different benefitting organizations allowed me to involve more wonderful people in the activities!

Me and Simon

Simon from La Ferme Belle Roche and fresh herbs and hot peppers!

Our first day of canning with fresh, local, organic produce took place at the Réseau d’entraide de Verdun. We did it with Gabriel’s collective kitchen group, plus some of the former participants in my workshops, Suzanne Bruneau and Maxime Gaboriault from the dinner club and the esteemed secret weapon Sébastien Bureau of Mannanova who is also the food scientist of RISE kombucha. People left with a super garlicky and spicy kale kimchi fermenting, a ruttabega, cabbage and carrot kraut fermenting, salted herbs and a green fruit relish. There was 15 of us and it was such a heart-warming and pantry-filling experience.


Sébastien Bureau- food scientist and fermentation guru...getting turned on by the turnip, carrot and cabbage kraut by the looks of it!

Sébastien Bureau- food scientist and fermentation guru…getting turned on by the turnip, carrot and cabbage kraut by the looks of it!

Gabriel- collective kitchen co-ordinator at the Réseau d'entraide who so kindly welcomed us in his fold to make preserves!

Gabriel- collective kitchen co-ordinator at the Réseau d’entraide who so kindly welcomed us in his fold to make preserves!


Heather: farmer and co-founder of Le Co-op des Champs qui chantent! Thanks for the beautiful vegetables!

Erica Dancose who managed to snag us a variety of veg to preserve from some of Lufa's numerous partners!

Erica Dancose who managed to snag us a variety of veg to preserve from some of Lufa’s numerous partners!












The second preserve session was with ladies from CFAD and from Chez Doris at CFAD. We made chow chow and pickled carrots. We also had a nice time together and the staff from CFAD pitched in too.

Dinner Club represent!

Dinner Club represent!

Kale kimchi- spicy and garlicky being joyfully mixed!

Kale kimchi- spicy and garlicky being joyfully mixed!

Kale Kimchi ready to ferment

Kale Kimchi ready to ferment

I’d like to sincerely thank Le Co-op des champs qui chantent, Lufa and La Ferme Belle Roche for contributing fresh local, organic, in-season vegetables towards those who have less instead of the usual processed non-perishables, and also contributing to an experience where people learn about canning, salting, pickling and fermenting. Preserving is a highly social activity and it was nice to see people from each organization rubbing shoulders with each other, with dinner club members and even with Sébastien the food scientist! Thank you also to the organizations that housed the activity and contributed to cover the cost of the other ingredients and the mason jars! See you next year!

Green tomato fruit relish- Catsup aux fruits de tomates vertes

Green tomato fruit relish- Catsup aux fruits de tomates vertes

Turnip, carrot and cabbage kraut ready to ferment for 6 weeks!

Turnip, carrot and cabbage kraut ready to ferment for 6 weeks!

End of the season at le Co-op des champs qui chantent

End of the season at le Co-op des champs qui chantent

Chef Lily of ChuChai: Awaiting battle

On June 15th, 2013 for the Vegan Rumble & Shake ChuChai backed by: D-Trois Pierres, Les Douceurs du Marché, 4 Corners of the Table, Majiza Phillip Rhythm’n’Groove and Mélanie Dusseault Photographe; faced-off agains:

Chef Luis of Green Panther: Ready to Rumble (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Green Panther backed by Carya and Zephyr farms, Truffe Import, Brutalimentation, GOA pilates and Jean-Phillippe Cousineau Illustrator; and against

Stéphanie Audet of Crudessence battling in the Corners (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Crudessence backed by Lufa Farms, Prana, Sportera, Midnight Poutine and Rachel et Michel Video Productions. This was my experience of it as an organizer….

Haim Shoham and Catherine Riendeau on team Green Panther in a pilates struggle! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

The Vegan Rumble & Shake felt like having two brides and a groom (vegan ones, of course) and their respective and eclectic families under one roof. There was the food, dancing, confrontation, emotion, the ceremony that was a little drawn-out, couples were formed, people let loose and the guests from different spots in society coming together.

One of the Rumble & Shake Love Stories (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

For myself, I felt like the over-zealous mother-in-law in adrenaline-land worrying if everything was going to come together…. until the moment actually arrived and then it all whirled by. Like a wedding, you plan and plan for a day that goes by quickly and when it gets there, you try to just relax and hope nothing goes seriously wrong.

Yours Truly enjoying the wily festivities (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

When it went down, it was inspiring to see what comes out of combining so many talented people, their products and  getting them to strut their stuff.

Chef Lily of ChuChai Recruiting soldiers (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Really, with all of these fine-tuned professionals, nothing could go wrong, they just had to do their thing.

Haim Shoham the owner of Green Panther with a fresh truffle from Truffe Import (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

The Weapons (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:



From the wild mushrooms, that were supplied to the sprouts and unconventional herbs, like chocolate mint and anise hyssop, kale, fresh garlic scapes, rhubarb, arugula, maple syrup and strawberries from the farms,to the raw decadence of Crudessence Stéphanie Audet’s dessert,

Stéphanie Audet's "Perfect Plate"(Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Chef Lily of ChuChai’s tightly crafted rolls,and Chef  Luis of Green Panther’s fun and festive felafels, the deliciousness and freshness was off the charts.

Catherine Riendeau from Truffe Import trying to get Chef Lily's salad roll in one bite! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Chef Lily eating Green Panther's felafel (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:


Crudessence took the trophy for bravado with Stéphanie Audet being hoisted like a championand David Côté’s Rocky-style boxing training,

Crudessence on top of the world! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

David Côté Crudessence's Founder and Champion (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Green Panther did their muscle flexing and red carpet cameos, but Chef Lily had the quiet assurance and grace of a ninja. The variety was the most resplendent aspect of the night to me, and I could have crowned different players for different things, but the combination of all of the creations seemed to over-shadow the unicity of a winner: each contender was a champion in their division.

Haim Shoham lovin' it! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

The old-school hip hop dancers,

Tisha Breaking it down for team ChuChai. Man, "That Girl is Poison!" (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

GOA’s pilates’ crew

Mariano and Véro from GOA: Making pilates a game! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

and Sportera rocked the house.

Gary Pillu and girlfriend Valérie of Sportera (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

It was nice to see good and healthy food linked to energy, participation and unconventionality. When I planned this aspect, I wanted it to be like a scene from Westside story where the crews face-off by dancing and singing.

Feet moving! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

I didn’t want passive observers waiting on the sidelines for what comes next, but to get in the Rumble and get their hands dirty with the chefs. This was the second biggest thrill to me.

Chef Lily and recruited soldiers in battle (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Tisha, Makeda and Suzanne really killed it, finishing their Bell Biv Devoe choreaography of “Poison” with an up-in-your-face ass smacking aimed at the competition.

You want some of this- Suzanne Rigden- representing team ChuChai, winner of $200 in organic vegetables from D-Trois Pierres (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

They called out “When I say Chu, you say Chi, Chu- Chai, Chu-Chai” They even said “Crudessence, Green Panther- pssshh, who are they?”

Bad Mamma Jamma- Suzanne Bruneau- body and soul united on the dance floor! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

They rocked the dis as it can only be done in the old school. Makeda even had the hot pants and halter-top- shazam!

Bring it on! Makeda hip hop dancer extraordinaire from team ChuChai (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

GOA’s Dana, Véro and Mariano surprised us, and showed the versatility of pilates; people were having fun and playing and I saw many legs shaking with effort for their teams.

Having fun with pilates (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

A soldier almost down! Pilates is tougher than it looks! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:


Sportera was the best match with Crudessence in sheer oomph and pep and the competitors moved around double-time with David Côté and Stéphanie Audet seriously scouting the most die-hard soldiers from up-above.

Never felt so alive! Sportera work-out (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Sportera Creative coacing: tight-fit with the creative Crudessence team (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

The food at 10:45pm was a welcome reward,

HMMMM! GOOOODD! Organic, fresh and spontaneous! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Erica Dancose manager of Les Douceurs du Marché team ChuChai enjoying the Crudessence creation (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:


and the buzzing around the tables from station to station and chef to chef,

Proud helpers! Great creations! Sporting the Green panther hat! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Soldiers helping their chefs (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:


tasting and chatting created a cloud of sighs, satiation and sheer pleasure.

All helpers, all winners! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Michael Mooney- Ecstatic winner of Lufa's $200 vegetable prize! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:


Many of the winners of the prizes came to me bubbling with joy and thank you’s. The mutual gratitude that flowed between the businesses and the participants was unbelievable. From bi-weekly CSA baskets over the season given by Carya to shocked helper Justine Ethier,  to the $200 dinner at ChuChai to Mélodie, all-day workshops in Crudessence’s Living Foods academy to Élodie, Michael Mooney jumping around in celebration for his $200 Lufa prize and Romain Rougier that left with his fresh truffle from Truffe Import, there was much to celebrate.

English announcer Mathieu Bergeron and French announcer Laurie Paquet. ARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE? (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Fraternizing with the enemy! Stéphanie Audet and Haim Shoham; Good friends, but mortal enemies! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:


There were less people than we had hoped, just over one hundred, but it was the right number for the space. The bios were a little long and after the hype of presenting the contenders, the zealous exercise, and unbelievable food it concluded with those who had been recruited by the chefs being the real winners, instead of crowning a team. The shake didn’t go-down after the strenuous exercise and eating and the food wasn’t formally presented nor the ingredients from the farmers and the food suppliers, although, many got the details from the farmers, chefs and suppliers by getting to know them personally.
The imperfection aside, it was a beautiful sight to behold these three clans together and the public joining-in the out-pouring of energy and the culinary muscle flexing and to see people leave well-fed and many with hefty prizes.

Gettin' loose! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Rising to the challenge! (Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Many people have already asked that the event be re-done. I am all for it and I know the spots that need to be buffered.  I also hope all of the contenders can get divorced so we can get married again next year, with less ceremony, more reception, a little earlier and, of course, with a panel of judges and a champion belt to seal the deal!  Be there or be square at the VVEEEGGAANNN RRRRRUMMMMBLE and SSSHHHHAAAKKKEE 2nd edition!

Thank you to Mélanie Dusseault Photographe for all of the wonderful photos and for going above and beyond the call of duty!

Special shout-out to Aisha Issa of Nutrisco Sensorial Marketing who promotes Drugstore and ChuChai and co-organized with me and who has opened-up the world of fantasy event-planning to me!

Check-out the articles of fellow blogger Amie Watson of Midnight Poutine (member of the Raw in Montreal group- like me!) and Rachel et Michel’s super-duper video

and Mariève Savaria of Brutalimentation and Jean-Phillippe Cousineau’s wonderful drawings

The Pensive Chef Lily: Quiet and Powerful- Ready to win next year. Chef of my team! I swear allegiance!(Photo by Mélanie Dusseault:

Judith- farmer extraordinaire with vegetable soup made with her farm's vegetables!

If you are one of the little group of roughly 100 people that read my blog,then you definitely saw the crazy videos of Dinner Club’s 8 year anniversary in the metro. This January was our nine year anniversary and we were perplexed as to how to out-do our metro stint. What could be bigger than using the public space to celebrate food, drink, camaraderie, free-thinking and action? Well the only way to move up on the scale was to bring in the joy of good deed and sharing and climb up a moral rung. Ameur Manceur, one of our take the bull-by-the-horns kind of members, suggested we cook for the homeless. Yes! We had it! Sharing our love and joy with Montreal is great, but sharing our food and cooking with those who actually need it seemed even more precious. The members agreed, and most importantly, Majiza, Suzanne and Tisha making the main meal were all for it.

Suzanne, mother of Tisha and Majiza

I called around. Benedict Labre House was closed on Friday January 20th, the day we had agreed upon. The Old Brewery Mission was enthusiastic, but we settled on The Welcome Hall Mission in Little Burgundy as it was closer to home for most of us in the Southwest of Montreal. We would cook dinner for 170 homeless people for 6pm on Friday January 20th.

Har har- Matt the Grubby Sailor Bergeron

The tasks were distributed under the theme of “stick to your ribs” aka comfort food. Majiza, Tisha and Suzanne would make chicken macaroni and cheese with 20 lbs of chicken breast cubes donated by the Réseau d’entraide de Verdun. Ameur would bring a medley of frozen vegetables, Judith a vegetable and barley soup with vegetables from the farm D-Trois Pierres, Jeremy- biscuits mixed at Wing’s, me and Gisèle each a dessert (Hazelnut and chocolate brittle that came out as a toffee and a chocolate and bacon cake…cochon!) Shahram, Michelle, Pierre, Dunja and my friend Matthew (who came as a surprise!) all brought drinks and came as special guests.

Majiza co-ordinating the Chicken Mac and Cheese main dish

This was a daunting task for most, but everyone was up for the challenge. The three days preceding the event I started getting calls asking about quantities and whether all of the necessary equipment would be on site etc.

Mass Production

We all trickled in slowly the day of. Jeremy was the first and was there with his hair net, as if he’d always worked there. Their regular staff was very helpful and took us in and guided us through and responded to our questions and requests. The members were all a little anxious about not having enough, but mostly, we were very excited. In fact, we had all been so worried about the feat that we all chose very easy dishes and so spent a leisurely time cooking and socializing and dancing to the music on the radio (“Another Night, Another Day”, “Rhythm is a Dancer”, “Beat it”, “Time After Time” It was as if they put one of my party mixes on the radio).

Arrived in advance with a hair-net, biscuit dough mixed and a mass-production attitude: Jeremy the man!

New and Occasional Members moved by the cause and to help out

We were right on time, and everything but my dessert went smoothly….The dinning room tables were cleared out and a plastic retractable curtain separated us from those waiting to eat. Each course was lined up so that the people eating would pass and get everything on their tray all at once. We were all lined up ready with spoons, ladles, dessert plates and glasses of juice. They opened the door and then we saw the crowd. A crowd of 170 people isn’t necessarily impressive, but 170 people who really need this meal and are waiting for charity is a humbling and sobering experience. Everything had to function just so and security is there waiting in case mayhem breaks out. People are hungry, on edge, some are sick, and many down-trodden.

This is going to sound harsh, but it seems like they are “other” humans- like they have been reduced to an animal life,  living just to satisfy their basic carnal needs. When you give food to each individual, though, you realize they are just like you and me. Their souls shone through and were closer to the surface than ours. There were all ages and people of different social and ethnic backgrounds. For many, you could tell that their life had gotten routed onto a precarious track. I could see myself in their place. I knew that in the trick of a few sudden events that could easily be me. It also struck me how much most of us find to complain about, but these people were so grateful for the food we had made them. I’m capable of having some terse words or thoughts about food that I find unsatisfactory, but these people were just happy to eat. The food was simple and heavy since it is too difficult to go all out financially and technically on that scale, but they made comments like “C’est comme Noel” (It’s like Christmas!) and many came back to thank us after the meal. Even though starch and sugar is what feeds the masses and also keeps them in a bad glycemic cycle, that’s reality when you’re trying to give people what they need to survive. Local, organic, vegetarian, etc, etc. Guilt guilt, etc. are all the food accessories and luxuries that disguise the fact that food first of all is sustenance. Anybody could be there… and was there, waiting for charity: the well-versed, the meticulous, the beautiful, the charismatic, the young- anyone and everyone. Count your blessings!

Ready to serve and be served... a Reality Check

We ate quickly and quietly in the place where they had eaten, and the staff took care of the dishes. We all felt good and many members told me that the experience was very special to them, but we experienced a much quieter and more soulful contentment compared to the 2011 boisterous euphoria of eating in the metro. We weren’t making a public spectacle, but remembering our place and what we had. There is a good chance the experience will become annual. They got a nice meal made with love and we got to feed our souls…

Thanks guys. I'll always remember it...

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