The Power of Women, Community & Food United in the Kitchen...
I recently had the chance to participate in the Regent Park Community Kitchen Food competition, organized by Toronto Public Health. This initiative allowed many refugee women to show case their passion for cooking while learning and receiving a certificate for health and safety rules associated with food handling.
Imagine a room filled with an assortment of culture, passion for cooking and hungry bellies waiting to taste the delights made by eight (8) women. The dishes, all hailing from the Middle East, had a variety of scents that filled up the Paint Box Bistro dining room. Patrons, like myself, waited in anticipation to judge one of these categories (appetizer, main course, dessert), while four chefs focused on crowning the the overall winner. Each table of four (4) was given a platter that had an appetizer and main course, which was then followed up by dessert.
I was privileged enough to sit at a table with three (3) women, whom I just met, who knew the Regent Park team. We were so engrossed in the delights of what was in front of us that we caught ourselves using language we had heard in previous shows like Top Chef or Hell's Kitchen. After each meal, we calibrated as a table and scored the appetizer dishes, other teams were tasked with evaluating the dessert or the main course.
In the end our table had a clear favorite, the Regent Park ladies. We felt they had the most flavored food items that complimented one another or could each stand on its own. This team ended up winning two (2) out of the three (3) categories but the winning team, judged by the four (4) chefs, where two ladies that came to Canada a year ago, from Aleppo Syria.
Now, this is why I love Toronto a regular normal day that had me enter the neighborhood bistro, left me meeting three (3) wonderful ladies, who I’m sure I’ll meet up with again and a new appreciation for flavors and community.
Thank you Toronto for allowing me to once again experience this city's multiple Shades of Influence!