After Ontario and Alberta, the Montreal-based organization is setting up in British Columbia to address hunger problems.
The aim of La Tablée des Chefs, an organization founded by Jean-François Archambault in 2002, is to help people in need. One of the ways it does this is by operating a food recovery service, collecting surplus food from hotels and restaurants and redistributing it to food banks. The other way is through its culinary workshops program, called Les Brigades Culinaires, which are offered to teens in high schools. The mission of La Tablée des Chefs is therefore twofold: to feed people in need and help young people develop their culinary skills.
In the coming weeks, a pilot program will be launched in two Vancouver hotels to test the food recovery program, while culinary workshops are going to be developed in two French-speaking high schools in Vancouver. “We chose French-speaking schools because, as this is the first time Les Brigades Culinaires is being done outside Quebec, it allows us to use the same formula and test it in another area,” explained Jean-François Archambault.
Just like in Montreal, where Chef Normand Laprise (from the restaurant Le Toqué) is the organization’s representative, Vancouver will also have its own ambassador: Chef David Hawksworth. He will help build a network of chefs and cooks who will contribute to the growth of both programs.
“We’ve worked outside of Quebec before, in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa, but this time we’ll have a local team in place and that will make a huge difference. My first trip to Vancouver three years ago was rather unsettling – there is a great deal of poverty in the downtown area. Vancouver was a natural choice because it’s the city where we felt we could have the largest social impact,” added Archambault. According to a report from the University of Toronto and B.C.’s Provincial Health Services Authority, half a million people a year are going hungry in British Columbia.
The organization redistributes over 500,000 meals annually to people in need and gives culinary workshops in more than 80 secondary schools, offering in total over 50,000 hours of training to adolescents.