Chefs à la rescousse: More than just emergency help

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The organization called Chefs à la rescousse (chefs to the rescue), founded jointly by local restaurateurs and businesspeople during the first wave of Covid, continues its mission in 2021. Since the project began in April 2020, more than 20,000 prepared meals have been delivered to those in need thanks to a wave of support, and more than $235,000 in donations and grants have been distributed.

The long-term goal is for the not-for-profit organization to be viable, self-financed and established in its own kitchens. With regard to production, it’s chef Sébastien Houle who coordinates the kitchen operations. He also initiated the project. When he took an enforced pause from the restaurant business last spring, his eyes were opened to the situation.

“Since 2013 there has been a need for an establishment making these kinds of products. We’re usually so busy with the tourists, but there’s a poverty problem we didn’t see and nobody was making these kinds of meals,” Mr. Houle explains. He’s the owner-chef of the restaurant Chez sEb.

Sébastien Houle. ©Courtoisie

Regional solidarity

Other restaurateurs, such as Casey’s, Saint-Hubert Mont-Tremblant, Pizzateria, Le Râtelier, Pub au Coin and Fat Mardis help with the logistics, supplies and product inventory. The P’tit Caribou recruits volunteer chefs, among others.

According to Dominique Laverdure, who’s in charge of communications, the success of Chefs à la rescousse is linked 100 per cent to the incredible way our community has stepped up.

The prepared meals are sent to food counters in the Laurentians, like that of the Samaritaine for example, which handles distribution to the most needy, working with Centraide Hautes-Laurentides (United Way).

At the moment, Chefs à la Rescousse provide about 100 hot meals a week to the Mont-Tremblant popote roulante (meals-on-wheels).

Starting in January, 200 meals a week will be sent to Sainte-Adele, which shows the extent of the needs waiting to be filled. “With Covid, the volunteers who were usually involved with the popote are more uncommon, or they’re not allowed to help. So we’re taking over for them,” Sébastien Houle notes.

A tourtière for a good cause

Since early December, Chefs à la rescousse has been selling tourtières au porc effiloché – traditional Québec Christmas meat pies – as a fundraising campaign. Cooked in the facilities of La Brigade, the tourtières are sold for $15 each and all profits go to the Chefs à la Rescousse.

You can order them online (chefsalarescousse.com) or buy direct at La Brigade or at the Mont-Tremblant IGA until January 15, 2021. At the time of writing, 500 tourtières had been sold, making the organizers confident that they would reach their objective of 1,500 tourtières.

Giving back

Chefs à la rescousse thanks real estate agency Versants Mont-Tremblant for its substantial gift of $5,000. While the health crisis was of benefit to the real estate sector, it was only natural for broker Pascale Janson to give back. “We feel pretty lucky as brokers, but we feel that things are not distributed evenly. (…) The chefs are being put to the test by the pandemic, but they’re the ones rolling up their sleeves to help the most needy. It’s doubly honourable,” Ms Janson emphasizes.

For the longer term, the Chefs à la rescousse organization hopes to become permanently established, because food needs existed well before the virus arrived. It will now be up to the new manager hired by the charitable organization, Jenny Prud’homme, to ensure that the donations, the help from volunteers and the dedicated kitchens that are to be developed nourish the mission of redistributing the affluence, one meal at a time.

Persons needing food assistance can contact the Centre d’Action Bénévole des Laurentides at 819 425-8433

 

More from this author by clicking on her picture below.

Geneviève Huchette

 

Geneviève Huchette45 Posts

Geneviève Huchette a grandi à Montréal et a complété un baccalauréat en agronomie à McGill. Après ses études et quelques voyages, elle a atterri à Mont-Tremblant en 2008, d'abord pour un emploi sur une ferme biologique. Alors qu'elle continue de jardiner pour le plaisir, Geneviève travaille actuellement dans les domaines du yoga, de la vente au détail et de la rédaction. Dans ses temps libres, elle adore les sports en montagne, les jeux de société et jouer de la musique. Geneviève Huchette grew up in Montreal and completed a bachelor degree in Environmental and Agricultural Sciences at McGill University. After years of studying and travelling, she landed in Mont Tremblant in 2008, first to work on an organic farm. Although she still enjoys gardening for fun, Genevieve presently works in various domains: yoga, retail and writing. In her leisure time, she likes mountain sports, board games and playing music.

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