Culinary Showdown

Kitchenaid Cook for the Cure Culinary Showdown
Caterina Vitale

On Saturday December 7th, I was one of the luck few to enjoy the ultimate foodie experience! This year, Kitchenaid and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation teamed up with 5 of the top Food Network Celebrity Chefs, along with hosts Tyler Florence and Dean McDermott to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer research by hosting a friendly cook-off competition. With $2,800 in donations, in which WFIM also contributed, I was one of the top 50 fundraisers who got to enjoy a whole day and night eating, cooking and talking food at the Fairmont Royal York, Toronto.

The day began with half hour sessions, learning different skills from each chef, including Lynn Crawford, Corbin Tomaszeski, Chuck Hughes, Vikram Vij and Mark McEwan with groups of 10 people to each chef. My team Vij (aka Kamasutra) was exciting and dynamic, each person there with a story to share of how they came to be one of the top fundraisers. Chef Vij, known as one of the top chefs of Indian culinary, with an average wait time of 2 hours at his famous restaurantVij’s in Vancouver, is one of the funniest and talented people I’ve ever met!

The competition began at 7:30 pm, after a cocktail reception with 400 guests, some of whom also raised money to this event. 5 Judges, including two women from Chatelaine Magazine and the Toronto Star ranked 3 courses- appetizers, main and dessert- based on presentation, taste and use of the 4 secret ingredients in each dish. Our team Kamasutra was the leader after the first two courses, but ultimately fell to third place- partially because one of the secret ingredients, figs, was forgotten in the dessert.

All in all, it was one of the best and most memorable foodie events I have ever been to. My signed apron and picture with the hosts and team mates will forever be treasured.

Lets Talk Turkey

What did the lady in the Turkey Suit say to the Loblaws shopper?

“Donate a Turkey to Second Harvest so everyone can Gobble, Gobble, Gobble!”

Hunger isn’t a laughing matter and that is why WFIM volunteers joined Second Harvest’s Turkey Drive. WFIM created two teams of volunteers to work on two weekends this December inviting Loblaws shoppers to purchase and donate a frozen turkey which would be put immediately onto the Second Harvest Truck to be distributed to one of more than 215 community agencies in the GTA area.

On Sunday Dec. 9th at the Loblaws at 2280 Dundas Street, a team of six wonderful women and men could be found all dressed up in turkey costumes and funny hats inviting people to donate. With a goal of 25 turkey donations, the team doubled the expectation and were able to get 54 turkeys donated and over $300 in cash.

With a second date of Sun. Dec. 15th at Loblaws at 380 East Mall, and a goal of 115 turkeys, we invite everyone to shop there and help us help Second Harvest.

Second harvest is WFIM’s Charity of Choice. This year at our Holiday Gala we raised $2,665.00 through ticket sales for our raffle prizes which were all donated by our members. With the addition of our speaker Ashley Chapman’s honorarium, and a top up from the WFIM Board of Directors, we donated $2,800.00. This equals a total of 5,600 meals that will feed hungry and needy people during this holiday season. Click here to see the Second Harvest donation breakdown.

WFIM recognizes the great work that Second Harvest does providing 20,000 meals a day to children in breakfast programs, seniors on fixed incomes, women fleeing domestic abuse, psychiatric survivors, homeless people and many others who have fallen on hard times. Since 1985 they have rescued and delivered more than 90 million pounds of food.

The Turkey Drive is a food-raising campaign which began in 2003. Since its inception they have raised 52,723 Turkeys. The goal for 2013 is to collect 5,000 turkeys.

This year, when you are shopping for gifts for your loved ones, and thinking of your own Christmas dinner, please take a moment to give back, either to Second Harvest or to your own Charity of Choice and try to make someone else who doesn’t have as much as we do a little more comfortable over the Christmas season. And don’t forget to join us Sunday, December 15th, at Loblaws at 380 East Mall and donate a turkey that day.

Merry Christmas from WFIM.

The Chapman’s Ice Cream Journey

By Barbara Onyskow, Past Chair WFIM

Women in Food Industry Management GALA DEC 5-2013


The evening started with a whole lot of chatter, registrants were checking out the Gala Premier Sponsor tables at CCC and Finlan Food Design.   A bit of sampling and free promo items were snapped up.  Everyone was enjoying networking before the event amongst two 20ft high decorated Christmas trees.

At 176 attendees this December Gala had the most attendees of all WFIM events!   There definitely was a lot of excitement in the room.  Bren de Leuuw – WFIM’s Director of Events, a dairy farmer’s daughter and former “Dairy Queen” from the same region as Chapman’s, was pleased to introduce Ashley Chapman whose family business supports local dairy suppliers.

Ashley started his introduction by saying he was surprised when HR told him he was invited to speak at a Women in Food Industry Management event.  He thought, “Crap, they probably think I am a woman as my name is Ashley”.  The story he told showcased the family’s entrepreneurial spirit and how they supported the community, customers, and suppliers.  It was truly heartwarming to hear of their humble beginnings and how they grew their business to be the largest Canadian Independent Ice Cream Manufacturer in 1985.  As a baby, Ashley’s room was above the engine room which provided some issues once he was older trying to stay awake when his old room became the production meeting room.

Some anecdotal stories of his Dad setting up a shooting range on top of their factory lead to a humorous story of his dad sliding down the stairs in his underwear then holding robbers with his revolver until the police arrived.

Despite the “big boys” foray into the world of frozen desserts, after the repeal of the Edible Oils Act in 2005, the Chapmans refused to join ranks, and made a commitment to use 100% Canadian Dairy to make their ice cream. Their family feels very strongly about supporting the local economy and providing a quality product, which we got to sample at dessert, courtesy of Chapman’s.

The fire at the Chapman factory in 2009 devastated over 35 years of hard work yet they didn’t despair and throw in the towel, after the town ran out of water, and all was lost including back-up tapes for formulas, invoices for customers and suppliers.   Fortunately, their long term employees knew their mixes by heart, and all their recipes were transcribed.  In three days, they were up and running to sell $12-13 million in inventory.  Unfortunately, their local customers, worried about future stock of Chapman’s ice-cream, emptied their warehouse within a few weeks.

A flyer arrived at their door offering a “fire sale” in Florida of a 4 year old factory with equipment necessary for production. Gay Lea and Parmalat were commissioned to make their mixes until they could bring to life their new plant, “Phoenix”.  Fortunately, they had business interruption insurance to cover all extraordinary expenses for one year.  This afforded them to keep operational using co-packers.  They went from 85,000 to 165,000 sq ft in less than 18 months.  Both parents run the business 50-50 with Dad taking care of operations and his Mom handling Marketing and Sales.  Their combined forces helped them to build their dream plant.

Ashley relayed in particular how his sweet natured Mom, Penny, has a reputation of being a smart, self-taught, don’t mess with her kind of woman and if “Mama ain’t happy, no one is happy!”  Today Chapman’s employs over 400 people, of which more than 40 % are women.  They also have a strong female leadership team:  50% of all supervisors, 50% lead-hands and all of HR are women.  The only areas primarily male dominated is maintenance and delivery drivers.  Everyone knows that if you don’t respect women at Chapman’s then Mom will “eat you alive”.

Ashley’s personal and touching account of salvation and recovery of this iconic Canadian brand was truly remarkable.