PARO and Me

TBNewsWatch recently interviewed me to discuss my business and my involvement with PARO: centre for women’s enterprise.  It was a spur of the moment thing, and the interview was squished in between cleaning  up from my catered lunch that day and my children coming home from school, but I was more than happy to chat about PARO.  You see, I feel a familial connection to this social enterprise that helps women start their own businesses in Thunder Bay and region.

Back in 2010, I joined their 10 month Gateway program, which connected me to funding and tons of support in order to get my catering business off the ground.  In the process, I met a bunch of wonderful women, all starting businesses of their own and joined a peer lending circle.  We still meet on occasion and are able to help each other secure loans through PARO, but we mostly simply enjoy the feeling of not having to do this alone.  Running a business is a tough endeavour, and certainly not for the weak of heart.  And I do love it.  But on those discouraging days, I am so happy to know that PARO has my back, along with the friends that I have made along the way.  I now am a board member of PARO and am happy to assist others on their own business journeys.

Anyways, I said all these things to the lady doing the interview, and she wrote an article about PARO.  But it was limited in what it could encompass, and I do feel such a debt of gratitude that I felt I should write a bit more.  If any of you know women who have a dream and want to build a business, send to them to PARO!

Read the full article here.

I’m on Instagram… finally!

I take a lot of photos of my food. They sit in a folder on my computer and never get looked at. Steve, being the social media ninja he is, provided a solid argument for me to start an Instagram feed of all these pics. So now I can show off some of my delicacies to the world! #YumYum

If you’re on Instagram, I’d love it if you would follow me and tell others as well: Your friends. Your family. Your dog (if he or she is on Instagram, of course). Basically anyone, really.

(Oh, also, if you’re not on Instagram, you can still check out my photos. Just click on my photo gallery!)

Just click here to follow me on Instagram:

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Confessions of a pottery addict

As a locally sourcing caterer, I am always on the lookout for ways to utilize our local producers in my business, beyond the usual ingredient items. Recently I took in the fabulous artisan and pottery show at the Valhalla, November 16th and 17th. If you missed out on this plethora of artistic eye candy, you should feel pretty sad and regretful right about now.

It was overwhelming to say the least as I walked through the crushing crowd to view some of the finest works of art in this whole Northern region. I focused mostly on the pottery show, but did run into Karen from Bare Organics, who sold me a soothing remedy for my water and soap destroyed hands. Honestly, I can not say enough good things about her healing balm. If you have winter aggravated dry hands or eczema and don’t want to use a product that is either full of chemicals or limits your skin’s ability to provide its own moisture, then you need to get this stuff!

Anyway, I digress. What was making me truly gleeful this Saturday afternoon was the huge array of absolutely beautiful pottery. If you’ve been to a cooking class, you know how anal I am about presentation; making the dish look good to entice the taste buds. Not only is the actual food presentation important, but the dish the food rests in I find equally important. A handmade pottery mug can take your plain cup of tea to new heights. And serving steaming soup in a pottery bowl or mug will literally make it taste better. In fact, the other weekend while visiting Grand Marais, we stopped into The Angry Trout for dinner, and was thrilled to find our seafood chowder being served in pottery! It was probably the best chowder I have ever had.

While all the artists I met this weekend I am in awe of, I particularly like the work of Tim from Island Pottery in Rossport, (he’s doing a show at Kleewych Glass December 5-24 if you’d like to stop in) and Trudy Jamieson Pottery. Both use the original wood fired kilns, with clever uses of salt and glaze to make unique and really impressive pieces! After spending a little more than I had set out to, I came home with a fantastic collection of bowls and mugs, a serving platter, utensil vase and serving bowl with a honey pot on order! I am going to show off all of these pieces, particularly because I am excited about them, but also to give credit to each artist.

Cooking classes are going to get even more exciting, with your tea and coffee served in unique mugs and your hot soups in beautiful wood fired pottery!

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Making the news!

Hi Folks, last month Ian Ross from Northern Ontario Business interviewed me on the start up and success of A Fine Fit Catering & Consulting. The article was printed in August’s edition of the newspaper. Here is the article online for sharing. Additionally, here’s a scanned copy of the article below. I’m very proud of it – excited for the opportunity to showcase everything that A Fine Fit Catering stands for! Hope you enjoy the read as well…

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Custom classes keeping me on my toes!

These last couple of months have been filled with custom cooking classes, as more and more people that have come to a themed class bring their friends for a unique experience together!  Each one is surprising and interesting in one way or another, from a group of lawyers to a bachelorette party to a surprise birthday party, they are sure to keep me on my toes!

A recent class I was privileged to a run was to be the surprise birthday party of a Thunder bay police officer.  Since he and his friends were really into hunting, his girlfriend asked me to put together a wild game menu, and they would supply some of the meat!  Not being into hunting myself, and having little experience with some of the wild meats available in this part of the world, I was a little intimidated, but ready for a challenge.  After going back and forth for a bit, the menu was decided on:

Menu:

  • Moose mince ravioli
  • Mixed greens with feta, apple and wild boar bacon
  • Blackened pickerel with pineapple salsa, stuffed potatoes and honeyed carrots
  • Chocolate lava cakes with Baileys cream

I love cooking fish, and since spending a lot of time in the Bahamas, my favourite way to cook fish is the “blackened” style (not to be confused with burnt!) with some sort of fruity salsa.  So the main course was an easy choice.

Now, wild boar is just awesome.  I love that the bacon is super lean- even after you give it a good fry, it retains probably over 80% of its mass, unlike regular bacon that reduces to next to nothing in meat value and a whole lot of grease.  I picked up the boar bacon at the market from Northern Unique, and was surprised to be offered some great photos of their hogs to pass around at the class!   It was a nice touch.  Thank you Rob Walsh.  Our wild boar bacon was used not only as a necessary element to the salad, but also to stuff the potatoes, along with some fine gouda cheese from Thunder Oaks.

My party guests supplied the moose meat, which I used in a homemade ravioli, served with a homemade red sauce made with crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic and lots of fresh basil!  The ravioli part was tricky, and I wanted to do it the authentic Italian way, so I borrowed one of those archaic Italian pasta machines from a friend.  There were just so many parts and the instructions were in Italian, so I called my Italian friend to help me out!  She came over right away and we did up a few batches.  It is so fulfilling to be able to prepare your own pasta from scratch, starting with a pile of flour on the counter, some salt and a few eggs in the well in the centre.  Regardless, I do understand why most people just opt to make their own sauce and buy the pasta!

So, my guests arrived early, except the birthday boy of course.  His girlfriend caught me up on the “story” she had weaved to get him to come over.  I was to be the proud owner of a pair of side by sides (skids) that he’s been wanting for a while.   She advertised these gems at a ridiculously low price, using a fake account and my name and address as the seller.  This would get him for sure!  When he inquired, she wrote back (as me) to tell him that I worked shift work and would be home at 6:00, so to come shortly after.  His friend planned to arrive with him, just to make sure he wasn’t too late!   When he finally arrived, all of his friends were hiding in the living room and the class was set up and ready to go.  His first comment was, “Nice, I came here just in time for dinner!”  and then when he saw his friends, “Wait….”  It turned out to be a success, and he quickly got over the fact that I didn’t have the skids after all.  All I had to say was, “So, I have this nagging question.   What ARE side by side skids?”