Slow Cookers for the DTES
As a food blogger, I often work closely with PR agencies around the city. They invite me to events, to try new products and restaurants. It’s a great relationship, and it is beneficial for both of us.
I recently had an email from Rachel over at Dunn PR, alerting me to a new project that they are volunteering on. Let me tell you about it.
Last month, I wrote a post about food deserts, and how tough it is to eat healthy on a tiny budget. Many people who live in the DTES live on a budget of $25 or less a week for their food. As you can imagine, this is a big challenge, and they often can’t get through the week without the help of food banks, or soup kitchens.
Whole Way House is a charitable organization located in the DTES, and they service the residents of an SRO called The Avalon, located at Main and Pender. Whole Way House provides community services, like family dinners, games nights, haircuts, pet therapy, and a community garden.
One of the challenges of living in an SRO is that you have no kitchen. Many residents have a small fridge or maybe a toaster oven or a hot plate. But they don’t have a full, functioning kitchen. Cooking healthy food can be a real challenge.
Whole Way House is partnering up with Chef David Robertson, of The Dirty Apron cooking school, to do crock pot cooking classes for the residents of The Avalon. Slow cookers are the perfect tool for people who live an SRO. You can cook an entire meal in there, start to finish, and you make those meals healthy soups, stews and curries. In addition, they are incredibly safe, and the long cooking process makes most things you make in there quite flavourful and delicious.
Chef Robertson has been a supporter of Whole Way House for a while. He lives in the neighbourhood, and has a friend that works there. In the past, he’s hosted fundraisers for the charity, has offered his Dirty Apron kitchen so they can cook their Christmas turkeys, and and regularly donates leftovers from the cooking school.
“We all have a role to play in the community,” he says, when I interview him in the kitchen classroom at The Dirty Apron. “I see food as a medium to help in the community.”
Whole Way House’s mandate is combat lonliness in the DTES, and create that sense of community, so when they asked him if he would teach a slow cooker cooking class, he said yes.
He will teach the first class on February 29, and it will be a riff on the Boeuf Borgignon recipe in his recently published Dirty Apron Cookbook.
“Stew is perfect for slow cookers,” he says. “It’s rustic, and it doesn’t demand a lot of specialty tools. They basically just need a knife and cutting board.”
The recipe is inexpensive, and can easily feed a number of people. The class will include a shopping list, including how much each item costs.
I took Chef Robertson’s recipe to the Sunshine Market on the DTES and shopped for the ingredients. All together, it cost me under $12.71 to purchase the ingredients (with bacon left over). This recipe will feed 3-4, especially if you include a side dish, like pasta, potatoes or bread.
Here’s the Chef demoing the recipe on a recent episode of Breakfast Television:
How can you help?
Donate a new or gently used slow cooker at the Dirty Apron (540 Beatty) or at Whole Way House.
Donate money to help buy ingredients and fund the program
UPDATE: the slow cooker cooking class was a big success! Thanks to everyone who donated.
Never a dull moment! Yesterday we had the privilege of launching our #CrockPotCookingClub with Chef David Robertson from @dirty_apron & to say it was awesome it a total understatement! We learned, we chopped, we braised and we bonded! What an incredible experience! Thank you to each and every person who donated a crock pot and to Chef Robertson for making this possible! Thank you @joey_arm_strong for helping us capture these special moments! We had such a blast and can't wait for next month! #Rebuild #food #fun #nutrition #dignity #cooking #lifeskills #DTES #YVR #igersvancouver #vancouver #community #homecooking