For the last several years, Our Place Society has held a fundraising event known as Hungry Hearts.
It’s a major fundraiser for the society, attracting talented chefs in Victoria who compete by cooking up their favourite dish for a good cause.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, Our Place Society decided to cook up a modified version of the Hungry Hearts fundraiser.
“We couldn’t go ahead with that this year because of COVID, so we’ve created an event where we can actually give back to the restaurants that have supported us in the past,” said Steven Seltzer, who is in charge of events and corporate relations for Our Place Society.
Dubbed Let’s Get Cheesy, the modified fundraiser is actually a contest to determine Greater Victoria’s favourite mac and cheese. It features more than a dozen participating restaurants creating their own mac and cheese and customers will be able to order and vote on their favourites.
“The whole community is invited to try all the mac and cheese dishes and to vote on their three favourites,” says Seltzer.
The competition is already underway and runs until Sept. 8.
“The neatest thing about this is all the creativity. We’re seeing menus from quite a few of these restaurants, and it is pretty incredible what you can do with mac and cheese,” says Seltzer.
Katrina Archibald, a chef at 10 Acres Commons Restaurant, one of 15 restaurants participating in the friendly competition, says its an exciting opportunity.
“Having this opportunity to bring our guests in, and to participate in an Our Place fundraiser is really important for us. We are so happy to engage with the community. We’re trying to show them what it means to eat local, sustainable food, and support another cause,” says Archibald.
10 Acres is serving up a queso mac and cheese dish.
“We basically took a classic style of queso-dip, and mixed it with our noodles,” says Archibald. “It has poblanos from our farm, it has jalapenos from our farm, and it features local pancetta. So we’ve incorporated ingredients, that we are growing right now, that are seasonal, that are fun, that are flavours that are different than just a classic mac & cheese, but we still kept that really strong, stringy cheese flavour to it.”
Our Place Society is a Victoria-based inner-city community centre that works with the region’s most vulnerable citizens, such as the working poor, impoverished elderly, addicts, homeless people and the mentally and physically challenged.
Money raised from this unique fundraiser supports health and wellness initiatives for the downtown street shelter.
“This is money that we need in order to have paramedics on-site, for us to be able to have medical supplies, for us to be able to extend our hours so that people have a place to go and get the services that they absolutely need,” says Seltzer.
The fundraising contest runs until Sept. 8 and will be followed up by a live-streamed gala event where the winner will be announced on Sept. 12.