Year in review

It’s that time of year…activities wind down so that one can relax and enjoy the sunshine!
It was only a few short months ago that I was standing up on a bus in front of WFIM members & guests saying my first welcome speech!   As the new chair of the board for WFIM, I’ve learned a lot in this past year about our organization, and I’ve gotten to know so many of our members.   We’ve had some changes in the board during the year, and many of us were new in our positions, so there was a rather large learning curve.   We had some issues with the website, but I’m happy to say that our marketing team, led by Michelle shebib, has the new website almost already to launch!
Our events team Bren de Leeuw, Mariana Macocei, and newcomer Brenda Seto have executed many great events this year…starting with our day trip to Niagara on the lake visiting a Chocolate F/X factory and Pilliteri Estates winery.  We had a great networking event with our own Donna Messer. Mary Jezerinac & Nadine Farran-Gatti executed our annual round table leadership academy, and plans are already well underway for the 2014 Academy.  December’s gala dinner featuring Ashley Chapman was our largest event ever- with 180 attendees.   We supported our membership with a health event in January featuring Leah Warner, developed our membership with a leadership event featuring Vanessa Judelman in March, and inspired our membership with street food and a fantastic tour of Griffith laboratories in April.    Our golf tournament at Eagles Nest, executed by Sanja Kivac, our golf chair, was a fantastic day of networking and golf.  To end our year, we had a wonderful dinner, followed by an inspiring presentation from Rose Reisman on the Art of Living Well.
I’d also like to note that our sponsors and members have supported great causes this year.   Between a turkey drive, raffles and donations, we have raised over $6000 for Second Harvest, and through sponsoring a participant in the culinary showdown, speaker  honorariums and a raffle at the June Gala, we have donated over $1000 to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
I am very pleased with WFIM’s success this year.  I would like to thank all of the volunteers on the board – I wasn’t able to name you all in this speech, but you have been invaluable to me and our membership.   As well, big thanks to all of the volunteers at all of our events who help make them successful.  Finally, big thanks to our sponsors who support us financially to make all these good things happen.
Looking into 2014-15, we already have great events lined up:  a special Volunteer Appreciation night in September, Chef John Placko in October, Academy in November, and another Gala Dinner in December to get us going.
I’d also like to announce the newly renovated Scholarship program!  This award will honor a female graduating student from a recognized post-secondary program in the food industry.  Keep an eye on our website for application instructions.
Have a safe & wonderful summer!  See you at an event in the fall.
Nancy Klassen
WFIM Chair

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.