Oh what a night!

What a fabulous night, a fun and funny night. Lynn Crawford is incredibly entertaining, and though her hit Food Network programs display her character well, there’s nothing like being in the room with her. She so obviously enjoys people, food and bringing them together.

This was the second fundraising dinner hosted by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation celebrating local food and healthy diets. The meal was outstanding but the night was so much more; I don’t think it was possible to be in that room and not feel a part of Chef Lynn’s table, and it was just so much fun to be a part of her party.

Her compassion is genuine. It was said during the night that had Lynn Crawford not been a chef she would have been in the health care industry. Touring patient rooms, she shared her fun, energetic spirit with everyone – which is so healing, and so important. She said it was an inspiring day, but I’d say that is mostly because of her.

This was one of our proud of our community nights, a chance to celebrate locally grown and produced food in elegance and style. Imagine our Hospital’s cafeteria decked out like a ballroom, with glimmering lights on every silver clothed table, glassware, tucked napkins, and a four course setting. In that gathering space it was – magical, a fantastically culinary space for a while… move over cafeteria, Thunder Bay has a function.

Danny Johnson on Piano, Jim Differ on Drums, and Dan Zadkovich playing the Double Bass filled the symposium with music while servers brought around trays of Grilled Lamb Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce and Smoked Fish served on Crostini. The Local Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche were nice, the Leek Fritters with Fall Herb Aioli were good too, but I don’t think anyone would argue that the plums stuffed with local extra-old Gouda, wrapped in pancetta with honey and wine sauce were the most delicious morsels of local goodness.

Every bite was spectacular, Chef Lynn put on an amazing spread – once again supported by Sodexo Canada and the chefs and staff of the Regional Hospital. Apparently that wasn’t enough help though;
Chef Lynn enlisted the help of diners on the line, every course getting a few extra hands from the dining room, some plating, others whipping cream (or was it milk, Lynn?). Even my daughter, whose name Chef Lynn remembered throughout the whole night, helped spoon the chutney on the entrée of Cider Glazed Pork on a bed of Sautéed Collard Greens, with Sweet Potato Whip a la Citrouille.

Before that we enjoyed a beautiful bowl of Roasted Carrot Velouté garnished with Nutmeg Crème Fraiche and Toasted Almonds – a recipe which is rumoured to have come from Cathy Paroschy Harris,
Director of Nutrition and Food Services at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. It was such a wonderful soup, seasonal and warming for these cooling days. That was followed by a fresh Beet Root, Golden Sultana and Walnut Salad served with a smear of Whipped Goat Cheese. All of this served with local breads, and varieties of cheese. It was incredible.

The dinner was finished with a Pear Upside Down Cake Draped with Crème Chantilly and Caramel Sauce and a motivating talk from Chef Lynn, who spoke about the importance of healthy eating and having
accessible fresh food. In a wildly entertaining auction, she roused more support for our Hospital’s Foundation by offering a dinner for six at her renowned Toronto table d’hôte restaurant Ruby Watcho.

Supporting our hospital matters to everyone here, where it’s impossible to not be or know someone affected by healthcare issues in Northern Ontario. This is personal. Support to the Foundation means better care for patients in Northwestern Ontario, providing much needed equipment for cardiac patents, diabetic care, and progressive cancer treatment. Eating fresh, healthy food helps prevent chronic diseases, and events like these couldn’t encourage us more.

Lynn Crawford’s cookbook Pitchin’ In was clutched in hands all over, each signed with a personal message, mine ending with “Cook with heart & lots of laughs.” As we all should.

We have an amazing community of growers and producers in the Thunder Bay area, check them out!

Belluz Farms

Brule Creek Farms

DeBruin’s Greenhouses

Mountain Stream Orchards

Northern Unique

Sleepy G Farms

Sugar Bear Apiaries

The Fish Shop

Thunder Oak Cheese Farm

Presented by partners Thunder Bay Insurance and Gillon Insurance Brokers LTD, with wine sponsored by
Whitewater Golf Club in support of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

Story and Photos By Amy Vervoort

Chef Lynn Crawford inspiring fun with food, poses with dinner guest Hannah Vervoort during the book signing symposium at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre