Spreading the Warmth Around

Gourmet charity galas are no doubt one of the more popular formats this Spring, and this year's  Table of Hope  was amon...

Gourmet charity galas are no doubt one of the more popular formats this Spring, and this year's Table of Hope was among the biggest, most varied, and most high-profile we here at the magazine had the pleasure of attending.

But how can it not be with a recipe like this:

1 part of all-star organization, as in co-chair of 18 years Mila Mulroney, and Michael Novak, Executive Vice-President responsible for Global Government, Aboriginal and Economic Affairs at SNC Lavalin.

1 part of MTL’s finest, as in over 40 of MTL’s top restaurants and chefs donating food, staff and time to take part in the cause.

1 part of stars, as in media personalities and celebs who volunteered as ‘sous-chefs’, and others who came out twinkling for the occasion. Ben Mulroney from E Talk Daily emceed the Patron’s Cocktail, and noted attendees included Michelle Dionne, chair of the Quebec Red Cross’ own Grand Soir, Julie Snyder, Lisa Frulla, Mose Persico, Miss Canada 2013 Melanie Williamson, Allouettes Josh Bourke, John Bowman, Michael Carter, and Peter Dalla Riva, and celebrity guest chef, Ricardo.

1 big part of partygoers, as in almost 1000 people in attendance!

The yield from these ingredients?  One top-notch extravaganza benefiting Share the Warmth (STW) a Pointe St. Charles nonprofit organization whose mission it is to serve individuals and families in need.  Child hunger is one of the key areas it targets, and does so by delivering 4,500 food portions to 2,600 students/28 schools daily, as well as managing food banks, after-school programs and annual scholarships to deserving students.

For this outing, your man about town has added a bit of a twist and asked local media persona Rachelle Segal to offer readers a ‘Wo-Man about MTL’ perspective on several elements of the soirée. Known for her candor and humored wit, Rachelle brings a fresh take on the scene as one of the mag’s new voices.      

‘Thanks Dax! It was truly a great experience to write with you on such a worthwhile event in support of a much-needed organization in our society. I was impressed to learn that in addition to helping feed children in school and prepare food baskets for poverty-stricken families, they also hold community bbqs in the summer as a way of connecting community and putting a smile on the faces of people undergoing hardship. 

Well on to the fun, and the two words that, to me, defined the evening: ‘classy, yet casual’. Held at Arsenal, the venue proved to be the perfect choice thanks to tons of historic character, not to mention required space. For those out of the know, the1846 shipyard building now serves as an all-purpose event complex known for hosting contemporary art expos and fundraisers of all kinds.

For the soirée in question, gourmet white-tableclothed food stations spanned as far as the eye can see, making it easy and inviting to just grab a plate, table hop, eat and mingle the evening away.

With the extensive selection of food, the only caution needed was to be selective with your favourite bites because it would be impossible to taste them all.  Doing so was risking a severe case of foodie coma – but I tried nonetheless! With event veteran DJ YO-C playing classic hits and a gospel choir belting out the numbers throughout the evening, the mood was both warm and upbeat. 

The Mulroney family poses for the camera at the patron's cocktail.

The expanse of the main hall.

The choir ensemble making musical waves.

But back to the food! As you can imagine, the list of standout eats was simply too long to do justice to them all, so here are some memorable ones in a bite-sized sampling:

Authentic Mexican (Limon, 2472 Notre-Dame O, MTL, (514) 509-1237)
Their extremely fresh and full of flavour dishes were a must taste including home made guacamole, jumbo shrimp and ceviche. A subtle hint of lime was present in their dishes, which gave everything the perfect kick! 

The Cheese Pops:
These goat cheese nut coated bites with a grape filled center were a perfect mix of flavours.  Some of the cheese fanatics were noted going back for seconds. 

The Barbeque Guys: 
They were the table to visit for succulent BBQ ribs - the Alouettes made this one a hangout. 

Salmon tartar spoons: (St. Raphaël Golf Club1111 Montée de l'Église, L'île-Bizard, 514-696-4653)
These were both original as they were fantastic!  Served on edible crispy spoons, there was something much more satisfying crunching into the spoon than a traditional cracker  - and no worry about spillage!

The doughnut bites: (Leche Desserts, 640 De Courcelle, MTL, 514-303-2200)
A couple lovely ladies with a gift for making doughnuts definitely caught my attention. So much so, I had no choice but to have dessert before dinner! Some of their best tasty bites of gourmet doughnut heaven came filled with pistachio or white chocolate filling. I knew I had made the right choice when I managed to bump into the MTL FoodGuy, Dustin Gilman, as he sampled quite a few at once! 

Chocolate Fountain and Strawberries. Enough said.

At one table stop, I was de lighted to catch up with Mari Toyoda creator of Wafu, busily rolling maki rolls and promoting a new dip in 3 flavours, soon to hit the grocery store shelves.

Now hopefully most of you are familiar with that delicious creamy sesame salad dressing turned ‘dip-for-everything’.  It is such a staple these days, and a huge success story that I had to know more.  So between rolls I chatted with Mari to find out how it all began.

A very sweet lady to speak to, she told me when living in Japan she was about to sit down for dinner and wanted something a little more exciting to eat with her sushi instead of soya sauce. She started mixing a few ingredients, and voilà, Wafu was born! 

Says Mari: “I just made it for my family. It was never initially meant to be a business, but it became an international hit!

Here we leave you with a few shots of yours truly with those who helped make it a truly standout evening.   

Catching up with Miss Canada, Kitchener's Melanie Williamson.

Sadly the heels didn't help the height difference with these big boys!
Michelle Dionne looking like she never left the Premier's official res.

Mose Persico in dapper light blue kept us entertained AND our wine glasses full!

Pausing between plates!   


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