Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Culinary Showdown

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Chef Lynn Crawford and last year’s Culinary Showdown winners.

Yorkshire Valley Farms is proud to be part of this year’s KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown event, organized by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. On November 14th, the top fundraisers will gather with their Celebrity Chef Team Leaders to cook up delicious menus for the judges, all to raise funds for important research that is working towards a future without breast cancer. We spoke with the team at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to learn more about the research they are supporting, to hear some inspiring fundraising stories, and to get a sneak peek as to what’s in store for this year’s event.

Can you give us a quick overview of the Culinary Showdown initiative?
The KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown is one of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s Signature Events. The event, now its third year is the ultimate foodie experience. It gives fundraisers the opportunity to cook alongside one of five top FoodNetwork Celebrity Chefs in a cooking challenge normally reserved for TV! This year’s chefs include Lynn Crawford, Corbin Tomaszeski and three new additions: Quebec award-winning Celebrity Chef Ricardo, along with one of America’s Top 10 Pastry Chefs, Elizabeth Falkner and owner of New York City’s Red Rooster Harlem restaurant and resident judge on Chopped Chef Marcus Samuelsson. The event will be hosted by Noah Cappe of “Carnival Eats”. We are expecting this year’s extraordinary challenge to be better than ever!

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The coveted Culinary Showdown trophy.

How much are you targeting to raise through this year’s Culinary Showdown event?
Over the last two years the event has been a tremendous success and has raised over $1,200,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) with participants from across Canada. This year through our incredible fundraisers, sponsors, and silent and live auction we are hoping to raise $766,000! From fundraising alone our hope is to reach $340,000.

How are funds raised through the Culinary Showdown applied?
Funds raised through Culinary Showdown will help the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation continue to fund high impact work at both the national and regional level which will lead to better detection and treatments, improved quality of life, and lead to significant increases in survival rates for Canadians diagnosed with breast cancer.

Check out these video to learn more about the research that CBCF is doing:
• CBCF-funded researcher Dr. Patrick Gunning speaks at the Culinary Showdown to discusses his research. Watch video
• A member of the Culinary Showdown staff visits Dr. Gunning and get an update on his work. Watch video 

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Participants take it all in at Chef School.

Are there are any fundraising stories – examples of extraordinary creativity or community support – that really stand out?
Tina Walters is participating in the KitchenAid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown for her first time. This year Tina made a cookbook of family recipes to sell when her mother became sick with cancer again, and now sells them in memory of her.  With the proceeds from selling over 300 of these, baking lasagna, and collecting donations in her community of Millet, Alberta Tina has maintained the position of top fundraiser since May. Tina came to Toronto earlier this year to attend an event with Chef Corbin and shared her story. It was so compelling that a number of people registered on the spot. Additionally, another fundraiser purchased 50 cookbooks from her that night. Though Tina has been supported by the people in the community, her biggest support has been her husband, who has stood by her tirelessly through everything that she has done, from producing this cookbook, to speaking on local radio. Tina has been and continues to be an inspiration to many.

Why partner with companies like Yorkshire Valley Farms?
Without the support of our amazing sponsors, like Yorkshire Valley Farms, not only could we not put on incredible events like the Culinary Showdown, but we couldn’t afford to fund incredible, ground breaking research like Dr. Gunning’s. It is only through support from sponsors and fundraisers that we will get to our goal of creating a future without breast cancer. It is also important to the Foundation to partner with the right companies. We strive to ensure that anyone that the Foundation partners with shares or values our beliefs. We have a strict guideline for selecting our partners so that our stakeholders can be assured that we are practicing what we preach so to say.

Are there any new elements in store for this year’s event that you can share?
Guests of this year’s Culinary Showdown can look forward to a few new elements to this year’s event. You can look forward to more interaction for our guests in the audience as well as some incredible silent and live auction items. With 3 of the five chefs being new this year, I think you can also look forward to it getting a bit hot in the kitchen!! The competition is going to be fierce!!

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To learn more about the event, visit culinaryshowdown.ca

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, Cook for the Cure and pink ribbon ellipse are trademarks of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. KitchenAid is a trademark of KitchenAid U.S.A., use under license in Canada. All rights reserved.

All photos used with permission of Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Community Spotlight: The Stop CFC Drop-in Program

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Healthy, fresh ingredients are an integral part of The Stop’s community meals.

Located in Toronto’s west end, The Stop Community Food Centre strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality. This season, Yorkshire Valley Farms is proud to support The Stop through the donation of organic whole turkeys to be served as part of the Drop-in Program holiday meals. We chatted with Scott MacNeil, Community Chef at The Stop, about the Drop-in Program’s impact on the community, what inspired him to become a Chef, and what’s on the menu for the holidays.

What is the Drop-in Program?
The Stop Community Food Centre’s Drop-in is a safe and welcoming space where anyone, regardless of where they live, can enjoy nutritious food, meet others, and access information on social issues and community resources. Breakfast and lunch are served four days a week (Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays). On Wednesdays, the Drop-in hosts The Stop’s Healthy Beginnings program, for pregnant women and new mothers.

The Stop’s Drop-in offers: services in partnership with other agencies, including an ID clinic, housing and legal services, a settlement worker, and dietetic counselling; workshops on tenants’ and employment rights; and demonstrations on how to make low-cost, healthy, delicious meals.

How many meals do you serve each year?
Last year, The Stop served more than 53,000 meals in the Drop-in.

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Community Chef Scott MacNeil in action preparing meals for the Drop-in Program.

What first inspired you to become a Chef?
It’s difficult to name one single inspiration for becoming a Chef. I cook because my mother and father made delicious food when I was growing up, always hosting dinners with friends and feeding my brothers and I well. My mother was an expert at shopping on a budget. I cook because when I was in grade 8 and was on our Quebec City school trip I ate carrot soup, and pate, and other foods that tasted better than anything I had ever had. I cook because I was not feeling fulfilled working at a desk and I wanted to work with my hands creating something immediately tangible, with immediate results. Most of all I became a Chef because I like to please people and make them happy.

How long have you worked with The Stop?
I have been at The Stop Community Food Centre for 6 years now.

What’s on the menu for the holiday meal?
We have a number of holiday meals planned. For the Christmas dinner, we will be serving dry-brined, roasted turkey with a sage butter. Stovetop stuffing, since in order to cook 15 turkeys, I need to cut them up first. Mashed potatoes and rutabaga (a personal favourite). We are also making cider glazed carrots, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts (maybe), of course gravy, our house made Stop sourdough bread, and for dessert, sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce.

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Community members share a meal.

Can you share a great ‘food moment’ that expresses the impact of the Drop-in?
I remember my first day cooking a meal at The Stop. It was the summer, August, which tends to be our busiest month of the year in terms of meals served. When we brought the food out to the Drop-in for service, the mood was tense. It was past mid-month and folks were well past the point of having any money for food, since their rent probably took the bulk of their money for the month, leaving them with basically nothing. A very stressful and disheartening situation made worse by the desperate feeling we can all relate to of not having any food energy to face your day. We started serving the meal, I think it was lasagna with Caesar salad and garlic bread, and something wild happened. The room, which had been loud and aggressive a minute before, became quiet. And for the next hour we served out that food while people ate and left, and were replaced by other diners. I received a few smiles and one or two compliments for the food, which is a good day here, as we have some harsh critics to be sure. I was struck by the power of food to change people’s mood, and their energy levels to deal with whatever the day was going to throw at them. It was a powerful moment for me to see, in a radically different way than in a restaurant, the effect my food could have on someone.

We’re obviously big fans of organic poultry here at Yorkshire Valley Farms. Can you share some of the your favourite ways to prepare chicken?
Being budget-minded, when shopping for myself I like to buy the whole chicken and roast it with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper, or herb salt (that we make here at The Stop). I stuff a halved lemon, fresh thyme and sage, rosemary, and garlic cloves in the cavity and roast it on high for 30 minutes, then lower the temperature to about 325°F for another 45 minutes, or more if needed. I will usually throw some potatoes, onions, carrots, and whatever other vegetable I feel like under the chicken before I cook it. You have a nice one-pan dinner. Then I pick all the meat off the bones, make a stock with them, which will become soup the next day. The remaining meat will become a pasta dish, or a Thai coconut curry, or a chicken and kale Caesar wrap for lunch.

I would also say that one of my all-time favourite chicken dishes is Chasseur, or Hunter’s chicken. I first made it in chef school in Niagara College, and remember thinking it was the best thing I had ever cooked in my life.

To learn more about The Stop, visit http://www.thestop.org/

Photos courtesy of The Stop CFC.

Retailer profile: T&T Supermarket

T&T Supermarket is Canada’s largest Asian supermarket chain, featuring a broad selection of uniquely Asian items not found at other grocers. You can shop for noodles from Taiwan, special sauces from Hong Kong, or unusual fruits from southeast Asia. In additional, T&T offers an in-house bakery, an Asian deli, a Sushi bar, and a Chinese BBQ department. And starting this month, you can now also find Yorkshire Valley Farms fresh whole organic chicken at T&T stores across the GTA!

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Hanging out in store with the T&T team.

Founded in 1993, T&T just celebrated its 20th anniversary. With 22 locations across Canada, and more in the works, there is much to celebrate. T&T’s commitment to quality and a high level of customer satisfaction has helped them to develop a loyal following, especially among Canadians looking for ingredients that allow them to make their favourite cultural dishes.

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This T&T store is decorated for Chinese New Year.

We spoke with Abigail Lu, a member of the T&T head office team, about the importance of organic, her favourite chicken dish, and what we need to know about the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday.

Abigail told us that having organic options for T&T customers is important to them because “No chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, GMO products, growth hormones, medications are used to grow organic products and organic practices are better for the earth.” T&T recognizes that many of their “customers are passionate about health, about leading a healthy lifestyle, and about the impact their food brings to the mother earth.”

Through Abigail we learned a fun fact about the “T&T” name.

“The acronym stands for two of the original investor companies who helped get T&T off the ground. But in the hearts of founders Jack and Cindy Lee, T&T also stands for the names of their two daughters, Tina & Tiffany.”

We talked with Abigail about her favourite chicken dish. Like many of us, our fondest food memories involve family and enjoying a meal together at home. For Abigail, it is the chicken wings with Chinese black mushrooms that her grandma used to make for the family all the time.

With Chinese New Year just a couple of weeks away, we asked Abigail to tell us about some New Year traditions. The New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most important event in the Lunar calendar and represents a time of prosperity, family, tradition and good will.

“On Chinese New Year’s Eve, family members gather around the table for the family reunion dinner. A chicken or duck is prepared, and left whole, including the head and feet, to ensure completeness and avoid misfortune for the coming year.”

Abigail also told us that “When cooking, people generally avoid chopping up fish, leafy greens and other items. In fact, using knives, cleavers or sharp objects during the holiday season is considered unlucky.” As with many traditional Chinese gatherings, food plays an important role. In fact, “Chi fan le mei you?”, “Have you eaten yet?” is a common greeting to guests as they enter a host’s home. T&T will be preparing special dishes for the New Year celebrations on January 31st, so visit the T&T website to learn more and begin preparing for your own New Year’s feast!

To find a T&T store near you, check our Where to Buy page.

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T&T shared this popular recipe for Three Cups Chicken with us, so you can explore some new flavours in your own kitchen.

ThreeCupsChickenTHREE CUPS CHICKEN

500g boneless chicken meat
2 stalks green onion
5 cloves garlic
8 slices ginger
1/2 cup black sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine
1/2 tbsp sugar
few sprigs fresh basil

 

1. Cut chicken into small pieces and place them in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and dry.
2. Cut green onions in short pieces. Lightly crush garlic and ginger.
3. Heat sesame oil in a pot. Add green onions, garlic, and ginger and bring to a boil.
4. Add chicken and soy sauce and stew for 2 minutes.
5. Add in rice wine and sugar and stew until the juice thickens.
6. Add basil when ready to serve.

Happy 20th Anniversary Nature’s Emporium!

One of our beloved retailers is celebrating a milestone that can’t go without sharing; the 20th anniversary of Nature’s Emporium!

The Nature's Emporium Family

A Costume Themed Nature’s Emporium Family Portrait

Over the last 20 years of being in retail, there have been many important lessons learned by the Nature’s Emporium family. The one that sticks out the most for them is realizing the profound value of trust. Ryan Dennis, Director of Communications, describes how it is involved in their day-to-day business,

“Our customers come to us for so many reasons – personal health or for a loved one, concern for the environment are but just a few. They entrust us with tremendously personal information and needs. By responding to that gesture with the respect and humility it warrants, we give them a reason to come back – and we gain the opportunity to build meaningful relationships that span through the years!”

Inside Nature's Emporium

Inside Nature’s Emporium

By playing a major role in the organic movement in the GTA, Nature’s has been able to see first-hand the growth of the industry. Dennis explains that their gratitude steams from the people they’re surrounded by,

“Really, this would not have been possible but for the steadfast support and effort of our incredible team, our amazing vendors and – more than anything – our customers, who have been with us every step of the way. This is truly an accomplishment that we’ve made together. The fact that we’re all able to share in more fresh, vibrant natural & organic foods than ever before, at prices that get better every day – that’s the real reward.”

The Nature's Emporium Family

The Nature’s Emporium Family

Even with 20 years of experience under their belt, Nature’s faces challenges every day, from seasonal availability to varying rates of public awareness to supply fluctuations. However, they don’t let these challenges stop them; they’ve taken these as opportunities to grow and improve the way their customers are served, as Dennis describes,

“We look for unique avenues to reach out to new audiences, through efforts like our three-year nutrition mentorship role with the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players’ Association) and Allstate in their “All Canadians Mentorship Program”. We build strong partnerships with local growers and suppliers [like Yorkshire Valley Farms!]. It’s a daily adventure, and we love it.”

Every year, Nature’s Emporium throws a holiday party for its staff members. This year, not only did they celebrate their 20 year mark but they also took home their third win in a row of the Brock Elliott Memorial Award for Excellence in Retail at the 2013 CHFA (Canadian Health Food Association) Awards. It doesn’t stop there! Nature’s is also celebrating the opening of the brand new Vaughan location!

Celebrating the Nature's Emporium Way!

Celebrating the Nature’s Emporium Way!

Here’s to 2014 and the next 20 years in organic retail to our old friends, Nature’s Emporium!

#YVFChickenRun

Since June, July and August are the months of beautiful weather and fun festivals, we decided to make the best of it all and hit the road with our organic chicken. This summer we partnered with 5 food trucks that visited various retailer locations and the hottest festivals of the summer, and served up Yorkshire Valley Farms inspired dishes.

Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Tacos from El Gastronómo Vagabundo

Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Tacos from El Gastronómo Vagabundo

Folks tasted our chicken at Flavours of Niagara Festival with El Gastronómo Vagabundo, Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival with Gorilla Cheese, Spalsh Festival and Riot Fest with The Feisty Jack, and the Oakville Waterfront Festival with Gourmet Gringos. Not one weekend was wasted!

Krystian Catala of Gourmet Gringos at Oakville Waterfront Festival

Krystian Catala of Gourmet Gringos at Oakville Waterfront Festival

The line-ups continued at major retailers such as Nature’s EmporiumLongo’s and The Real Canadian Superstore. Matt Basile from Fidel Gastro’s and his food truck, Priscilla, parked outside of the stores and handed out free samples of his famous sandwiches and tacos filled with our organic chicken. It’s safe to say there wasn’t much left over.

Nature's Emporium with Fidel Gastro's

Nature’s Emporium with Fidel Gastro’s

We had such a wonderful time with this program because between retailers and festivals, we were able share our wholesome, organic chicken to new fans and friends, along with the old. We take pride in the food we produce; it’s important to us to that consumers are aware that good food is within arm’s reach.

Apple Butter Wings from The Feisty Jack

Apple Butter Wings from The Feisty Jack

The other highlight of this venture was that these 5 incredible food trucks integrated our organic chicken into their menus. Our chicken was grilled, smoked and fried up into these delicious dishes:

Chicken Tinga ~ Gourmet Gringos

Charcoal-Grilled Chicken Tacos ~ El Gastrónomo Vagabundo

Smoked Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches ~ Gorilla Cheese

Indian Chicken Tikka &  Apple Butter Wings ~ The Feisty Jack

Talk about variety!

Smoked Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Gorilla Cheese

Smoked Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Gorilla Cheese

A big thanks goes out to El Gastrónomo Vagabundo, Gorilla Cheese, The Feisty Jack, Gourmet Gringos and Fidel Gastro’s for making our summer filled with fun and great food. The summer may be over, but it will never be forgotten!