Christmas dinner preparations were in full swing at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute during the week of December 19.
Staff and student volunteers joined together to prepare a full Christmas feast with all the trimmings for more than 600 people which will be served to the less fortunate on Christmas Day. The meal will be served at the Spirit of Christmas dinner, hosted by Paul Sr. and Anna De Devitiis, at Gord’s Place in St. Catharines.
Benchmark chefs Alex White and Sam Seaver led the preparations, along with student and staff volunteers from the CFWI and Benchmark including chefs Avi Hollo, Olaf Mertens, Jim MacLean and Tony Deluca.
Preparing the holiday feast for this annual event has become a tradition for staff and students at the CFWI. College president Dan Patterson and his wife Saundra have also been volunteering on Christmas Day at this event for several years.
The annual Spirit of Christmas Dinner event in St. Catharines offers a free holiday meal in a festive atmosphere to those who attend, which often includes the homeless, and those facing financial challenges, as well as people without families and newcomers to Canada.
Along with the De Divitiis Group, Niagara College is a lead sponsor of this year’s event.
Staff and students at the CFWI and the team at Benchmark have been in the full spirit of giving this season, with several initiatives to help the community.
Earlier this month, they prepared a Christmas dinner for almost 300 people at the Boys and Girls Club. They also supported Women’s Place of South Niagara where chefs David Gibson and Laura Bonin and a team of students served a holiday feast to the residents.
CFWI dean Craig Youdale noted that eight different shelter visits are planned for January and February where staff and student volunteers will cook a hot lunch for about 150 people. Youdale and the CFWI chefs will also visit the Daily Food Bank in Toronto in February where they will spend the day creating close to 10,000 meals for the GTA.