Supporting the Community by Improving Food Literacy and Sharing Food Inspiration

Improving food literacy creatively in this close-up of a painting by Artist Eric Ranveau showing pots of stocks and hot pot soups simmering on a stovetop.
The Preparation of Sauces” by artist Eric Ranveau, captured in Tree House Kitchen

Are you wondering what we do all day here at Tree House Kitchen? Here’s a little window into what keeps us busy during a typical week.

Every day in Tree House Kitchen, we focus on improving food literacy, testing and photographing components of recipes, always keeping in mind how we can help everyone:

The Tree House Kitchen philosophy: “Mmmmm! Think like a chef.”

Our business has three major components: 1) teaching cooking skills at select online, TV and in-person events*, 2) community outreach programs and 3) my regular writing of recipes, articles and social media content.

I set up our community outreach programs, in particular, to pass on kitchen skills expertise, local food sourcing information and nourishing recipes. I hope these can improve the lives of children and families in our greater community. I have been nourishing myself as a chef since the 1990s, and constantly improving my own food literacy has been positively life-changing. So, I am committed to passing on every tip I know.

Local fine artist Eric Ranveau exhibited his food-inspired work at my Tree House Kitchen open house. Originally from France, Eric understands food and wine intimately. He observed the goings on in my teaching kitchen for several weeks and used what he saw as inspiration. It is very cool to see my creations captured in this beautiful way! The photo above, of one of his pieces, illustrates pots simmering on the stovetop, filled with homemade stocks and Asian hot pot soups. The open house also featured 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 have discussed working 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 to make dozens of varieties. The organizer, Stacey Marshall, wrote, “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 support to help fight child hunger in our community. Recipients receive healthy food donated by local businesses and farmers and delivered by volunteers. I dropped off printed cooking tips and recipes that offer new ways to prepare what clients receive each week. Schools also call on me to help design healthy meal plans that kids will like. For example, Canadian Martyrs Catholic Elementary School in Hamilton hired me to teach families how to freshen up their lunches and think differently about preparing homemade food. I enjoyed finalizing that fun and interactive lesson plan, which will increase food literacy. Hillfield Strathallan College, where I’ve donated my food expertise for 18+ months, has concrete plans to incorporate an educational eating garden into the curriculum and food services in partnership with Mohawk College! That is fantastic news.

RBC Dominion Securities wanted to provide a unique experience for its clients. This repeat corporate client booked my Food Truck Fiesta cooking class for 12 people here at Tree House Kitchen. 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. For parting gifts, everyone received artisan chocolates from Beanermunky Chocolate and a 17-page original recipe booklet complete with Tree House food photos.

I frequently offer free recipes and local sourcing tips via my food blog and social media. Chefs find it fun to source the freshest ingredients locally, and I’ve shared this know-how with my followers and students. Spring always inspires me to create with leeks and fiddleheads, as I know how to source them locally in the wild! That’s right—I harvest fresh wild leeks and fiddleheads from the nearby woods. I also source organic dandelion greens from my garden and supplement fiddleheads from Picone Fine Food. As a regular customer of Dundas’s own Picone Fine Food, The Keeping Room, Cumbrae’s butcher shop and Beanermunky Chocolate. I tell students about their fantastic work. Together, we increase food literacy, helping people access 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.

*Update: We’re so proud of our work in our hands-on teaching and dinner party classes, but we no longer offer classes. We hope you enjoy reading about our past classes, and our new direction as a food literacy company specializing in problem-solving skills and resources for busy families and community members—like you!

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!


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