On Friday, Oct. 20, Ernest’s played host to a feast of unique proportions.
The “Leftovers for Dinner” event, spearheaded by Global Shapers Edmonton in partnership with Ernest’s, was a fundraising and awareness dinner for the charity Leftovers YEG.
The evening’s setup included an Iron Chef-style competition, where students competed using kitchen leftovers to make 220 delicious hors d’oeuvres for guests which were judged by both diners and professionals on presentation, taste, temperature, skill and creativity.
The event raised awareness and approximately $7,500 for the charity’s mission, which is to take excess food from vendors at the end of the day and transport it via volunteer drivers to partnered service agencies across Edmonton.
The money raised will go directly towards the purchase of coolers, food scales, equipment, and gas cards to cover the costs of moving the food.
Student groups prepared a variety of food left over from first year cooking classes, including pot roast, corned beef, boiled potatoes, parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts and turnips.
The winning team, as judged by Edmonton food bloggers Linda Hoang and Phil Wilson, plus local chefs Shane Chartrand and Mark Bellows, made dishes that included potato croquettes with a herbed cream cheese on top, roast beef with parsnip puree and pickled brussels sprouts, and a fresh pasta with a tomato and corned beef sauce.
The people’s choice, as judged by nearly 200 diners at the event, was a team that made dishes such as a corned beef pâté on pumpernickel bread, brussels sprouts topped with both a fennel and butternut squash puree wrapped in leek and beef crostini with red wine braise sauce with parsnip.
In the culinary arts, a leftover is what Ernest’s Executive Chef Michael Hassall, calls “extra servings of prepared foods that were never used; we’re not scraping plates.” Hassall explains that restaurants know what events create the most leftovers. “Banquets and buffets, I think that’s where … this idea benefits the most … You know you have a hundred people coming, they barely touch the chicken – what do you do with all that leftover chicken? Especially, if you don’t have another event till next week.”
Global Shapers Edmonton, the co-ordinator of the event, is a volunteer organization that plans and launches new initiatives and charities in Edmonton. The group is composed of 25 volunteers aged 20-30. Each year they take on one project to shape society and the community around them. At the end of the year the new projects are handed off to a group of long-term volunteers. This year’s project was Leftovers YEG, next year there will be a series of events aimed at combatting urban isolation.
Jyoti Lamba, VP Operations for the Edmonton Hub of Global Shapers said this issue is more common than you might think.
“Roughly eight per cent of Canadian households are … food insecure…they don’t know exactly where their next meal may be coming from.”
To combat this, Leftovers YEG receives food leftovers on a weekly basis from Blush Lane, Cobb’s Bread, The Dogwood Cafe and Good Earth and distributes them to places in need such as the Hope Mission, the Bissell Centre, the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op and the Youth Emergency Shelter. Hassall said it’s a perfect marriage between restaurants and charity.
“Now you no longer throw them out … you box them up and someone comes to pick them up.”
– Randy Seccafien