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Oct 16

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Time For Restaurants For Change. Dine Out. Do Good.

Canada and it’s cities are often ranked in the various lists of “Best Places In The World To Live”, but there are many issues in this great country that, those of us who can, need to help improve. A food system that is resilient and sustainable is desperately needed but this isn’t an easy task. It is with this need in mind that 65 restaurants in 15 cities across Canada have decided to come together under the banner of “Restaurants For Change” to join forces and make a difference.

Restaurants For Change - Community Food Centres Canada - Goat Roti Chronicles

On October 19th all proceeds from their dinner service will go towards Community Food Centres Canada, CFCC . According to the CFCC website, their mission is to “provide resources and a proven approach to partner organizations across Canada to create Community Food Centres that bring people together to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food”.

How can you help? Well, to tell you the truth, it couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is make dinner reservations at one of the participating restaurants, go enjoy your dinner and join the conversation about how to make sure every Canadian has the right to healthy food.

I recently had a chance to talk to chefs from two very popular restaurants in Toronto who are participating in this event on October 19th, Lora Kirk of Ruby Watchco, and Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station.

Lora Kirk

Lora Kirk has gained a lot of her culinary knowledge from working with renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsey and Angela Hartnett. She has been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York and in Kitchen Stadium on Iron Chef America. Chef Kirk is an advocate for supporting local farmers and growers, the people who supply chefs with the best quality products.

Restaurants For Change - Community Food Centres Canada - Goat Roti Chronicles - Lora Kirk

Lora Kirk of Ruby Watchco

Why did you decide to participate in Restaurants for Change?

I feel as chef who works with food everyday, that I have a responsibility to help be involved in supporting local Food Community Centers.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Farm to table, supporting local farmers and growers, cooking in the season.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life as a chef?

My babka, my grandma and my mother, three very strong hard working women. Each one has shown me how to cook or bake, all in different styles. I still call my mom or babka to ask for a recipe or help.

What’s the one thing you can’t stand in the kitchen?

Cooks who waste food, who don’t understand the hard work it takes to grow product, who don’t appreciate the time and effort of our farmers and growers.

What does the inside of your fridge look like?

Lots of vegetables and fruit, eggs, cheese, Apple Cider, hot sauce, mustard and pickles and Olives.

If you could cook for one person, dead or alive, who would it be, why, and what would you serve?

Alice Waters, Julia Child, Barbara Lynch, Angela Harnett, , April Bloomfield. Fire of the pizza oven, pitchers of Bourbon Sours and have a party.

What’s next for Lora Kirk?

With my first little girl on the way, arriving in November, I look forward to spending time with her and watching her learn about food.

Carl Heinrich

Carl Heinrich has lived in many parts of this country but his big break came when he emergen the winner in season two of Top Chef Canada. His biggest influence on his life as a chef was his mother who single-handedly raised 3 kids and ensured that every night they ate a good, wholesome meal as a family around the dinner table.

Restaurants For Change - Community Food Centres Canada - Goat Roti Chronicles - Carl Heinrich

Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station

Why did you decide to participate in Restaurants For Change?

Since 2010, Ryan Donovan and I have been a part of Grow for the Stop (now Farms for Change). It is a great fundraiser, a great party and some of the most fun I have cooking. When we opened Richmond Station we continued to take part in the event, but the issue was that all of our staff also wanted to go! Instead of closing the restaurant to bring all of our staff, we kept the restaurant open and all of our sales that night went to the CFCC. The next year Restaurants for Change was born with the same logic and we were the first ones to sign up.

How would you describe your style of cooking?

Ingredient focused, technically driven.

Other than Richmond Station, where do you eat in Toronto?

Oh, geez. That’s not fair. There are too many fantastic restaurants in Toronto to choose from right now. I did have an incredible, eye-opening experience at Actinolite a couple weeks ago.

What’s the one thing you can’t stand in the kitchen?

When a chef does not cut herbs properly. That is the most basic of knife skills and you need to get that right before you can go on to anything else.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I love being at home with my wife and son. We really like going to the farmers market at least a couple times a week.

What does the inside of your fridge look like?

It’s usually pretty bare. We shop locally as much as possible and use up everything while it’s fresh. There are a lot of prepared meals set in the freezer, ready to go. There are always a few craft beers and bottles of white wine in there.

What’s the next food trend to come through Toronto?

Whatever they’re cooking at Noma right now.

What’s next for you?

Focusing on making Richmond Station better everyday and trying to get as much time with my family while doing it!

Restaurants For Change - Community Food Centres Canada - Goat Roti Chronicles

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