Last week I was invited to a spectacular dinner and it was not only the food that was memorable it was also the tears in the eyes of most of the guests in the room. The fundraising dinner took place at the H.A.V.E. Culinary Training School on the DTES. I had heard about the culinary school from Len J Nakonechny who is the H.A.V.E, Director of Development and Recruiting, the school was founded 5 years ago to assist people living on the streets or people that have had a difficult past get skilled and back into the work force.
After I had the pleasure to meet and talk with Chef Amber Anderson who is the Executive Director and runs the cooking side of the school, I now have a complete understanding on the schools challenges and achievements.
The dinner was prepared by notable Canadian Bocuse d’or Chef Alex Chen along with some of his friends who rank high in the crème of top chefs including Chef Tobias Macdonald who joined in to lend a hand. Working with the chefs were many of the students in the culinary program and together they turned out one of the best meals I have had to date in 2012.
To begin the meal we were served an Amuse of Kumamoto Oyster along with some in-house baked brioche, buns and cheese swirls.
The 1st Course – Heirloom beets with salt spring goat cheese, sylvetta arugula, hazelnut streusel
The 2nd Course – Bouillabaisse with shellfish, rouille, fennel veloute, olive oil
The 3rd Course – Duck a L’orange with confit, poach and sear, kale, carrot, daikon
The 4th Course – Alberta Prime Beef with butternut squash, brussel sprouts, marrow, truffle oxtail jus
The 5th Course – Donuts with vanilla, caramel, chocolate ganache sauces
In Seattle there is a similar and successful project called Fare Start which has been transforming lives for over 20 years. H.A.V.E. on the DTES in Vancouver is modelled after the school in Seattle.
The school is going to be renovated very soon and proceeds from the fundraiser will be going to cover the renovations creating Café 374 into a modern space for diners to enjoy meals. The area where H.A.V.E. is located is about to boom with new restaurants in the coming months including the Fat Dragon opening nearby.
How can you help? Project374 invites local and national businesses and families to participate in all of their fundraising efforts. If you could donate funds, provide kitchen equipment and supplies, provide food/beverages, clothes for job-hunting and or your time for any event, that would help make H.A.V.E. a great success.
H.A.V.E. Culinary Training Society is located at 374 Powell Street in Vancouver, BC. You can contact them by phone at (604) 696-9026 or visit them online at have-cafe.ca/ and follow them on twitter @HaveCafe
By: Richard Wolak