Ronald McDonald House Hamilton (RMHH) and Liaison College have joined forces to give families and students alike a unique and delicious opportunity. RMHH will soon house a fully stocked catering kitchen built and staffed by Liaison Culinary College. Liaison students will be given the chance to learn and prepare restaurant quality meals for families staying at the house.
“We’re the first house in all of Canada, and as far as we know, the United States that are having this unique type of partnership,” says Debbie Logel Butler, the Director of Development at Ronald McDonald House Hamilton. “We believe one of the most important things for our families is that they get good wholesome and healthy food. Our past Home for Dinner program, which was volunteer based, would no longer be able to keep everyone fed since we’ve gone from housing 15 families to 40. We could now be feeding 100 to 120 people per night after we reopen.”
The kitchen, completely designed by Liaison College, will serve as a classroom for students who will be shuttled in to learn in a live environment, something Liaison Chef Instructor Greg Singh is excited about.
“It’s a variety of different things that they get to be exposed to with regards to cooking,” Singh says. “When you cook one on one, maybe one or two portions, you’ve taught the basics, but when you actually go ahead and teach for large quantities, the 80 to 100 people we will be cooking for on a daily basis, then you get a different set of skills. Making sure you’ve got your timing down right. Making sure you have the quality of the food proper. That it’s hot when it goes out. All the important things that we actually stress on a day-to-day basis. Now it becomes real life and you have real life deadlines. You have people that are actually coming in to eat as opposed to a lab or classroom type setting.”
Since families staying at RMHH have no set schedule, food will need to be portable, nutritious and kept fresh so families can stay strong in the face of adversity.
“I think food is a great comfort,” says Singh. “It’s one of these things that harkens you back to your childhood. You’ve tasted something and it sparked a memory and made you very happy. It takes you to a better time sometimes. I believe in that 100 per cent. I think that will definitely help families out and get them in a good frame of mind.”
The menu will be based on a monthly rotation, giving families a wide variety of professionally cooked meals. Singh says the food selection will be a delicate balance of “spiced up” comfort foods, like macaroni and cheese, and dishes that will challenge his students in the kitchen.
RMHH is set to reopen its doors sometime in April. Before then, Singh says they’re working around the clock to prepare four different events in appreciation of their donors and volunteers.
“We want to introduce the whole facility again because it’s been around, but it’s only been a 15 room facility and we’re up to 40 rooms now,” Singh says. “We want to make sure that people come in and know what we’re offering and how proud we are of what we’re doing. For the whole month of April we’re working out things like this. So we’re excited to see this come to fruition and to get in there to get our hands dirty.”