Supporting the Community by Improving Food Literacy and Sharing Food Inspiration

The preparation of sauces in Tree House Kitchen - Artist Eric Ranveau
The preparation of sauces in Tree House Kitchen – Artist Eric Ranveau

In case you are wondering what we do all day here at Tree House Kitchen, I thought I would give you a little window into what keeps me busy during a typical week.

Every day in Tree House Kitchen, we are testing and taking photos of components of recipes always keeping in mind how we can help everyone

mmmmm! Think life a chef

There are three major components to my business 1) gourmet dinner party cooking classes 2) community outreach programs and 3) my regular writing schedule of free recipe give-aways, blogs, newsletters and tweets.

*Update: We’re so proud of the work we’ve done in our hands-on teaching and dinner party classes. Working with you, our clients has played such an important part in the new direction of Tree House Kitchen as a food literacy company, specializing in problem-solving skills and resources for busy families and community-members, like you! We hope you enjoy reading about our past classes, and also where we’re headed in 2017, and beyond. 

My community outreach programs, in particular, are set up to pass on kitchen skills expertise, local food sourcing information, and nourishing recipes that I hope can make life-improving changes in the lives of children and families in our greater community. Nourishing myself as a chef since the 1990’s and constant improvement of my own food literacy has been positively life-changing for me so I am committed to passing on every tip I know.

The food-inspired work of local fine artist Eric Ranveau will be exhibited at my Tree House Kitchen open house this September. Originally from France, Eric understands food and wine intimately. He has been observing the going’s on in my teaching kitchen for several weeks and is using what he has seen as inspiration. It is very cool to see my creations captured in this beautiful way! The photo, above, one of his just-completed pieces, illustrates all the pots simmering on my stovetop filled with homemade stocks and Asian Hot Pot soups. The open house will also feature a tea sommelier and live violin music.

The head of Hamilton Community Food Advisors (a service of Hamilton Public Health and Social Services) and I met this week to discuss my upcoming guest speaking engagement at a June potluck for all advisors to be hosted here at Tree House Kitchen. We will be discussing how we can work together to improve food literacy in the greater Hamilton community.

FAB (Fit Active Beautiful) coaches, mentors and motivates young girls to be strong women. I am delighted to have donated my time to these amazing mentors, teaching them to trust their instincts and senses when exploring food. I shared my vinaigrette cooking system and taught them how to make dozens of different vinaigrettes. The organizer, Stacey Marshall, wrote this week that “I loved your class; I can say that I will likely never buy a vinaigrette again and even today took to my fridge and pantry to figure out what works. You created an amazing evening for our great coaches and I truly appreciate how special you made it for them!”

The Food4Kids program is another organization I am supporting this spring and summer to help fight child hunger in our community. Recipients receive healthy food donated by local businesses and farmers, and delivered by volunteers. I have just dropped off printed cooking tips and recipes that offer new ways to prepare what their clients receive each week. Schools call on me to help design healthy meal plans that kids will like. Canadian Martyrs School in Hamilton, for example, hired me to teach families how to freshen up their lunches and think differently about preparing homemade food. I just finalized that fun and interactive lesson plan that will increase food literacy. Hillfield Strathallan College, where I’ve been donating my food expertise for 18 months, now has concrete plans, in partnership with Mohawk College, to incorporate into the curriculum and food services an educational eating garden! That is fantastic news.

RBC Dominion Securities wanted to provide a unique experience for their clients. This repeat corporate client booked my Food Truck Fiesta cooking class for 12 people here at Tree House Kitchen. The attendees played around with ingredient combinations, making their own salsas and tortillas. The class included demonstrations of 11 recipes and then a beautiful dinner and wine tasting executed with the help of my wonderful staff. Take-home Beanermunky artisan chocolates and a 17-page original recipe booklet complete with Tree House food photos were the parting gifts.

I frequently offer free recipes and local sourcing tips via food blog and social media. In spring I am always inspired to create with leeks and fiddleheads, as I know how to source them locally… in the wild! That’s right – I harvested fresh wild leeks and fiddleheads from the nearby woods. Organic dandelion greens were sourced from my garden and fiddleheads were also supplemented from Picone Fine Food (celebrating 100 years in Dundas!). Chefs find it fun to source the freshest ingredients locally and I’ve shared this know-how with my followers and students. As a regular customer of Dundas’s own Picone Fine Food, The Keeping Room, Cumbrae’s Butcher, Beanermunky Chocolates, and Earth Shake, I tell students about the fantastic work they do. Together in the food business we increase food literacy, helping people gain access to nourishing foods and inspiring food ideas.

It takes a lot of time, resources and work, but sharing food inspiration that can make life-improving changes in the lives of children and families in our community is unbelievably rewarding. And now, back to the kitchen for taste-testing. Always looking for the mmmmm! factor.

1 reply
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    Food literacy is such an important issue! Thanks for putting such great information out into the world, Nancy, and for teaching people of all ages to truly love healthy, nutritious, locally sourced foods! The world is starting to shift its thinking. Nice to see that you’re leading that shift! Keep up the great work!

    Reply

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