Arts & Entertainment
3 min

Gluttony for a good cause

Kitchen Sisters event benefits Sistering Women's Hostel

Christine Bib and several of the city's leading chefs organize Kitchen Sisters on International Women's Day.
When Mike Harris’s Common Sense Revolution ripped through Ontario in the ’90s, countless seams of our social safety net were left tattered in its wake. Of course, single mothers were among those hit hardest, victims of the Conservatives’ campaign to vilify them as wealthy welfare cheats whose days revolved around watching soap operas and scarfing back imported bonbons. 
 
At the time, Harris and his ilk insisted that churches and grassroots groups would step in to provide aid to the needy.
 
They were right in that, if nothing else. Organizations like Sistering Women’s Hostel came forward to help the increasing numbers of vulnerable and hungry women. First established in 1981, the group offers things like sewing classes, medical aid, counselling and advocacy support for homeless, under-housed, recently immigrated and low-income women. 
 
It also serves nearly 200,000 meals a year to those in need. The kitchen used, however, is desperately in need of renovation. It’s old, outdated and pokey – a complete nightmare for any cook worth their salt. 
 
“Oh, it’s a little desperate,” says Christine Bib, owner of Toronto’s Christine Bib Catering. “When I first saw it, my heart just went out to them.”
 
Last year, Bib banded together with several of the city’s leading chefs on Women’s Day to throw a fundraising dinner for the hostel. Culinary stars like Lynn Crawford and Marion Kane joined Bib in preparing a luxurious meal for generous benefactors, aptly prepared in the tiny kitchen their donations will renovate.
 
With some help from the province, Sistering is now only $75,000 away from a properly functioning galley. It’s a good thing, too, as the centre’s numbers continue to rise: the hostel’s food outlay has seen a 40 percent increase over the last four years alone.
 
“So much work goes into just raising enough money for daily operating staff,” says Bib. “This dinner really can help get the kitchen up and running.”
 
With the service industry facing the same financial challenges as the rest of us, Bib admits that acquiring people and resources for a gourmet dinner benefit can be a bit of a challenge. 
 
“Catering and restaurants are all having a hard time now with the economy,” she says. “But somehow we still get donations from suppliers and kitchen helpers. There’s this whole sense of camaraderie.”
 
The hostel’s regular kitchen staff works side-by-side with those who have donated their time to create a sumptuous offering that will surely help the diners to loosen their purse strings along with their belts. The evening will start off with canapés created by George Brown College’s Deborah Reid and Carol Grey from the Sistering staff, followed by a feast that would make even Victoria Beckham unlock her jaw:
 
First course:
Salad of baby beets and hazelnuts served beside a baby cauliflower “mousseline,” with miso toast. Created by Suzanne Baby (Gallery Grill) and Trisha Beard (Sistering).
 
Second course
Shrimp, scallop and lobster in tomato-fennel broth, with a swirl of saffron cream. Created by Christine Bib (Christine Bib Catering) and Maureen Watson (Sistering).
 
Main course
Beef tenderloin, oven-roasted carrots, French beans and onion confit, served with horseradish jus. Created by Anne Yarymowich (Art Gallery of Ontario) and Donna Dooher (Mildred’s Temple Kitchen).
 
Dessert
Warm plum-almond crumble with port reduction and vanilla-orange ice cream. Created by Joanne Yolles (George Brown College/formerly of Scaramouche and Pangaea) and Colen Quinn (Pangaea).
 
If reading that doesn’t make you want to rush down to Mildred’s Temple Kitchen to drop some cash (and gain a spare tire), then perhaps the knowledge that you’ll be helping to feed the needy will. After all, it’s not often you get to help others by indulging in a little gluttony.
 
The Deets:
Kitchen Sisters: An Exquisite Dining Experience to Benefit Sistering
Thurs, March 8, 6pm
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Ave
Tickets are priced at $500 and $1,000 for the VIP chef’s table
Call Sistering at 416-926-9762 x243 for details