There’s something so very right about holding a food fundraiser in the middle of a market. So right, in fact, we’re surprised it doesn’t happen much more often.
Food fundraisers—the ones that tout starred chefs, boast dozens of snacking and drinking choices, raise money for food banks and related charities, and come with triple-digit ticket prices—are tightrope acts. It’s great to pull together a lavish spread (and especially great for marketing efforts), but throw too elaborate a bash and you run the risk of creating a certain unease in your guests. If you’re raising money for people who don’t have enough to eat, at what point does your good time become poor taste?
Resolving that tension handily is FoodShare, which threw its annual Recipe for Change fundraiser last night—in the decidedly unsexy north building of St. Lawrence Market, with frequent stations for composting food scraps, and a down-to-earth vibe that struck just the right note. FoodShare is a holistic organization that is concerned with the entire operation of our food system—they’re involved in everything from community gardening to teaching how to cook healthy food on a budget—and it showed in the kind of party they threw. Breaking convention, they had as many vegetarian options as meat-based ones. (Perhaps the single best dish of the night was vegan, in fact—an astonishingly flavourful chickpea and white bean soup by Enoteca Sociale/Pizza Libretto’s Rocco Agostino.) And while some chefs had layered, carefully composed plates, others simply sliced prosciutto or drizzled two kinds of honey (from the roof of the Royal York Hotel) over goat cheese, so you could taste the difference harvesting season makes.
There were, as always, some standout dishes (that soup, Texas-style brisket, duck mille feuille) and some dishes that fell prey to the dangers of large events (soggy pasta, lukewarm perogies). But most of all, there was a sense of connection between the event and the cause it served. It turns out you can lose a lot of the frills and still throw a great party—a better one, actually.
FoodShare is still working on a final tally, but as of noon they told us last night’s event raised well over $50,000.