Fundraiser Sees Top Chef Come Home for a Cause

By Melanie Larson

The Wake the Giant initiative and its inaugural music festival have both garnered attention and support from big names in the Canadian music industry. Now, they’re once again demonstrating the promising reach of their cause with an upcoming event aptly titled, Feed the Giant. Taking place on September 12 at the Chanterelle, Feed the Giant is a cocktail party fundraiser organized by Thunder Bay’s own Hayden Johnston of Top Chef Canada fame.

The event was not originally sought out by Wake the Giant, but stumbled upon organically through the expressed interest of the local culinary star. “Some [members] of the organizing committee…are really good friends of mine,” says Johnston, who now resides in Toronto as a chef at Richmond Station. “When I heard about Wake the Giant back in the winter I said ‘look, I want to be involved. I don’t live in Thunder Bay, but there’s got to be something I can do to help and…the thing I know how to do best is [to] cook.’”

Feed the Giant boasts a lineup of chefs from Tomlin, El Tres, Daytona’s, and Caribou, as well as Josh Morin of Scoff Restaurant in Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Top Chef Canada winner Carl Heinrich. “It’s going to [probably] be the first time this many chefs have gotten together to do an event and cook for the public in Thunder Bay history,” explains Johnston. “Everybody is donating their time and their food. So, one hundred percent of the profits are all going to Wake the Giant and the whole initiative.” Those who attend can expect an “interactive” food experience, featuring an abundance of local ingredients and “Thunder Bay-centric” dishes.

But, while the culinary aspect is sure to impress, Johnston wants to make certain that the focus remains on the cause and, most importantly, the students of Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School. “First and foremost, [the plan] is to raise as much money as we can…[to] build a residence for the students. [We want] to get 80, 100, or 150 people all in one room to talk about what Wake the Giant is – and not just the Marina Park event, but the initiative as a whole – about making Thunder Bay a more inclusive city.”

A limited number of 200 tickets will be available for purchase starting August 1st for those interested in attending Feed the Giant.