J.J.’s Generosity


I met J.J.’s mother at a Taste of Wellington last summer. I was a woman on a mission, spreading the word about poverty and food insecurity in an increasingly affluent Wellington West and Hintonburg. She was innocently trying to nab a free but famous mini Flying Banzini cheesecake.

Months later she was at our door with a wide-eyed J.J. He came to ask me a question. “What can I do to help,” he said somewhat shyly.

I knew he had already done the most important thing…he showed interest.

J.J. listened while I spoke about poverty and poor nutrition, the horror of old school food banking and the joy to be had in sharing. We talked about the meaning of empathy and the importance of caring for others.

J.J.’s father is a dentist. He immediately offered toothbrushes. My eyes lit up because toothbrushes are expensive and when forced to choose between buying whole foods or toothbrushes, real food always wins out.

Last week J.J. turned 10. He remembered what his mother had told him about hunger in his neighbourhood. “I didn’t really need anything,” he told me as his mother handed me a cheque for $120 –the proceeds from his no-present birthday party.

I’m smiling in this photo. But inside I am doing cartwheels. 

Back to Our Roots: The first-ever Parkdale Food Centre Gala


When the Parkdale Food Centre was founded nearly 30 years ago, it was first housed in the old fire station on Parkdale, which many of you may recognize as the current home of the Urban Element — a cooking school and event space that our neighbourhood treasures. We are thrilled that Urban Element has agreed to host us in our original space and let us go “Back to our Roots” in order to raise funds to help our neighbours in need.


Join us on Thursday, May 1st from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm to enjoy delicious food and drinks courtesy of our partners, including the Urban Element, the Merry Dairy, Stone Soup FoodworksSupply & Demand, Beyond the Pale and Stratus Vineyards. Each ticket includes three complementary drinks, with a cash bar also available for the duration of the event as well.


The event will feature a silent auction, and music by Renée Yoxon and Craig Pedersen, as well as the opportunity to mix and mingle with Parkdale Food Centre supporters, community members, and local foodies.

Tickets for the event cost $150 (including a $65 tax receipt). A limited number of tickets are available, so don’t delay if you’d like to attend!


Petit Bill’s Tutored Whiskey Tasting & Food Pairing

In January, Petit Bill’s hosted a Tutored Whiskey Tasting and Food Paring evening, featuring a great selection of whiskies and bourbons from Beam Global along with an excellent five course dinner prepared by Petit Bill’s chef Glen Sansome and this team. Petit Bill’s has hosted similar events in the past, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Parkdale Food Centre. In fact, last year’s Bourbon evening raised money for us and this year was an even more successful repeat performance.


It was a sold out event and I counted myself lucky to have gotten a ticket. The warmth of the packed restaurant contrasted with the rather cold January evening. 48 guests were welcomed by co-owner Randy Fitzpatrick and we kicked off the evening with an awe-inspiring barrel-aged maple/bacon Manhattan. We even walked away with the rather simple recipe for creating your own bacon-infused whiskey.  Any recipe that starts with a pound of bacon is guaranteed to end well!


We settled at our tables and I joined a group of guys who were veterans of the whiskey/bourbon tasting crowd, having already logged one trip to Kentucky to tour the various bourbon distilleries. Laid out before us were the five whiskeys we would be tasting throughout the evening.


Matt Jones, a cocktail mixologist from Maker’s Mark, was our guide for the evening, introducing us to the history and pedigree of the whiskeys as well as many great stories about the industry and its personalities.

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Then it was time to eat. Chef Sansome delivered a delicious and varied set of courses that perfectly complimented the whiskey – or was it the other way round? Imagine seared sea scallop with sour cherry, bacon and barley fricassee. Or how about house-smoked salmon rillette, grilled pork tenderloin medallions with orange-cranberry marmalade and Owensboro Kentucky BBQ lamb? And of course, there was dessert – a honey-crisp tarte tatin with homemade praline ice cream. Each course coupled with its own whiskey – a decadent evening.


The evening ended on an especially high note. Beam Global donated two gift baskets, a bottle of Maker’s Mark 46 with glasses, and a bottle of Devil’s Cut along with a mini aging barrel to make your own maple/bacon whiskey. Both baskets were raffled off and here are the two lucky winners.

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Speaking of winners, the proceeds of the raffle went to the Parkdale Food Centre and Karen readily accepted a cheque of $845 from Randy and Terry of Petit Bill’s. A big thanks to them and their efforts!

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Thanks to Petit Bill’s for the great photographs!

Flavours of Ottawa — Great Food, Great Fundraiser for PFC!

Ottawa foodies will not want to miss the Flavours of Ottawa: Westboro Easter Food Market on Saturday, April 12th. Taking place from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at St George’s Parish Hall, eighteen local artisan food vendors will be selling their delicious goods at this Easter Market and raising funds for the Parkdale Food Centre at the same time. This event is generously sponsored by Diane & Jen, Kitchenalia and Givopoly.

Easter Food Market

To learn more, visit the Ottawa Specialty Food Association’s website.

Recap: January’s Crockpot Cooking Workshop

Laying out the plans

On Thursday, January 23rd, 2014, chef Jason Laurin of Essence Catering visited the Parkdale Food Centre to kick off our 2014 cooking workshop program. Jason had ambitious plans for the day with three recipes – Spicy Pork on Rice, Salisbury Steak and Onion Gravy and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce – planned out. The participants were ready, willing and hungry.


Chopped Onions

The first order of business was chopping, and lots of it. We all gained an understanding of why chefs have sous chefs. It’s all about the chopping! Onions, celery, garlic, ginger and tofu (no fingers though) were chopped up. Jason also had two teams prepare the Salisbury steaks (beef patties) and meatballs, combining ground beef and pork in a traditional recipe for the meatballs. The Salisbury steak patties were ground beef seasoned with a few spices including Worchestershire sauce. It’s really the onion gravy that provides the extra flavour.

High Five for the meat patties

Meatball Production

Jason worked with another group preparing the tomato sauce for the meatballs, frying up the onions for the Salisbury steak gravy and sautéing the garlic for the spicy pork.

The Three Sauces

Amongst the all the cooking action, Jason took a few minutes to talk about chopping green onions and dividing them up, the whites to be cooked while the greens are used as an aromatic topping. It was a simple but valuable tip on how you take a simple ingredient like green onions and use it in a dish in a number of ways. He also highlighted the many uses of miso paste as an all-purpose seasoning.

The joy of miso according to Jason

Jason is a great fan of Ottawa’s Chinatown, visiting often for ingredients and seasonings like miso paste. Finally, he let us in on three tips for great tomato sauces – lots of oil, a good can of tomatoes and a long slow cook of at least two hours. It really did make a difference.

Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

With the sauces and gravy under control, Jason and the team turned their attention to the meatballs and Salisbury steak patties. The meatballs went into the sauce while the patties were first fried and then put into the oven to finish cooking. Once the patties were in the oven, Jason turned his attention to finishing off the spicy pork, adding the ground pork to the sauce and cooking it.

Spicy Pork on Rice Finished

It was not long before the three meals were ready and we had reached the most important and anticipated part of the workshop, the communal meal. The cooking workshops are more than just an educational experience – they’re a chance for the participants to sit down together and enjoy the food that they prepared. Everyone chatted, laughed and ate a great meal with new friends. As for the ultimate review on Jason’s choice of recipes that day – all the platters were empty by the time we finished.

Communal Meal

The Parkdale Food Centre wishes to extend our thanks to Jason Laurin for his help leading the workshop, the participants who so enthusiastically joined in and of course, all our volunteers who helped make it happen (and helped clean up afterwards) . We hold the workshops every month and greatly welcome donations of new crock pots, money for the ingredients or sponsorship of a workshop. To learn more about our cooking workshops, visit our Cooking Workshops page and learn how you can help.

We love our new blackboard — check it out!

Thanks the fantastic team at Beyond The Pale and Tanya Sprowl-Martelock of Phive Design, we have a new focal point at the Parkdale Food Centre. This new chalkboard has been added to the middle of the room so it can be seen by everyone, with the intention of being our new education center — until now we’ve not had an easy, single spot to share important info, nutrition ideas, post upcoming programs or even just highlight our food of the month. Over the coming weeks, we’ll add a new section that shares what we’re out of to help our clients be aware, our volunteers packing orders, or donors that come in wondering what we could use the most.

We’re still on the lookout for a brochure rack so that we can share brochures and pamphlets, but this is an amazing improvement. We love it!


Imagine walking into the cafeteria at school, everyone around you is eating. You sit down next to your friend, you don’t have a lunch. They wonder why, you say you’re not hungry, you say you had a big breakfast but the truth is you haven’t eaten since last nights dinner. They accept the answer, not remembering that you didn’t have a lunch yesterday, or the day before, you don’t know if you’ll have one tomorrow.

When you donate to the food bank it has an immediate impact; the food, or money goes straight from you to a person in need. I feel that we are morally obligated to care for people in our community who are going through difficult times; I couldn’t stand the idea of a friend coming to school without anything to eat, or a mother going without dinner so she can feed her children.

I spoke to Karen Secord who runs the Parkdale Food Centre (my local food bank) and asked her a few questions about hunger in our community. Karen said that she works at the food bank because she feels that “when people live in poverty they become invisible” and she doesn’t “want to live in a world that is us and them.”

Karen also told me that we have to make wise choices when donating food. “Why give them Kraft Dinner? I don’t want Kraft Dinner!” She said that when we donate processed food we become part of the problem. We shouldn’t give people food that we don’t want to eat ourselves. It’s important for everyone to eat healthy, nutritious food; as Karen put it, “it’s a basic human right!”

In addition, Karen said that it is exceedingly important for kids (of all ages) to volunteer at the food bank. I believe that you are never too young to want to change the world, and by giving someone food, is one of the easiest ways to do so.

Everyone uses the food bank. The man on your bus, the girl from home room, the mother you see dropping off her kids at school. Collage students, elderly; people you know, and think you have figured out. Without the food bank people would get sick, which would only put more stress on an already stressed health system.

The food bank is not an answer, but for now it’s all we have. For many people it’s the difference between eating and hunger. It’s important to volunteer or to donate healthy, nutritious food to your local food bank. But ultimately, what we need is for people to think. Think of a way to eliminate hunger, especially in a country like Canada, where we have vast resourses and no reason for anyone to be hungry.

Today is different. Today you have a lunch, ham and cheese on whole wheat, with fresh fruit for desert. Today you’ll smile brighter and study harder, because today you don’t have to pretend you’re not hungry; because today you’re not.

Neve Stewart — January 18 2014

Neve and Paul Dewar, MP for Ottawa Centre at the Parkdale Food Centre

The HPH: Committed to our Community

Summer Baird, the owner of the Hintonburg Public House, comes by almost weekly to donate…and how do we count the ways….

  • toiletries
  • laundry soap
  • warm clothing
  • non-perishable food
  • meat
  • cash – lots and lots of sash!

The HPH is a glowing example of Community Social Responsibility.  They give because they care, because they feel morally committed to helping their neighbours.  They care with flair!  Nearly every week in November and December they collected specific items, engaging their customers in the process and encouraging the discussion about need in their neighbourhood.  A highly successful raffle and party, of course, capped off weeks of giving.  Next up?  A TWEET UP with a green theme… You don’t want to miss this!

Visit the HPH website to keep tabs on their upcoming events.

There’s one place to head if you need to buy amazing local beer served from a gang who cares- Beyond the Pale!

To celebrate the end of their first year in business, Beyond the Pale decided to host a party at Orange Gallery, asking for donations to the PFC as a feel-good (and giving back) way of celebrating.

They put the word out on social media and SO many people showed up.

When Karen stopped by to pick up a cheque from BTP co-founder Rob McIsaac and discovered the amount — $1000! – she couldn’t contain herself and just had to plant a kiss on his cheek!  We absolutely adore the partnership we have with BTP and their commitment to our community. In addition to helping us raise funds, they also share the spoils of some of their brewing processes with our clients, delivering naked grapefruit — they use the rind for their delicious Pink Fuzz beer, and save the grapefruits themselves for the PFC.  We wish Beyond the Pale many, many more successful years of brewing — their fun-loving company bordering the Parkdale market is a model for others and a great part of our community!

This workplace doesn’t need any special motivation – they take action at The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) & Elections office!

One of our wonderful volunteers, Catherine Cox, who is a part of our Tuesday shift, surprised us recently with a huge haul of food donated by her colleagues at the City of Ottawa’s ATIP & Elections office.  When asked how she motivated her colleagues to collect so much for us she told us: “Actually, I didn’t have to motive one bit! All I have to do is tell my colleagues about some of the people that come in to get food; the looks on their faces; the need.  People in this city are actually hungry.  I tell them about how a box of Kleenex is a luxury item.  I have never actually asked them for anything — they just care.”  The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) & Elections office is located off site from City Hall, and is a legislated unit dealing with confidential privacy issues.  Staff decided that their goal this Christmas was to fill Catherine’s SUV with food for the PFC.

Catherine is very proud of her colleagues explaining “Over the past year, my SUV has been filled to the brim with food, clothes, and children’s books.  If I happen to mention we ran out of sugar last night at the food bank, the next day my office floor is covered with bags of sugar.   This is an office that just keeps on giving no matter what the season.”  Thanks to Catherine for being one of our great volunteers and inspiring others!