Good food, good folks, good cause

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Gish teacher and students serve gourmet meal for Haiti relief

Take one Grade 6 Logos teacher, 20 or so students, add a pinch of culinary interest and then bake for 40 minutes.

The recipe is for a healthy dose of creative humanitarian relief as a Logos class at Elmer S. Gish School in Akinsdale discussed ways to help the various international aid organizations assist in the rescue and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. The result was a fundraising lunch held at the school yesterday, a meal that was expected to be a small affair but turned into a major sell-out.

In the middle of early preparations on Thursday after classes were done for the day, teacher Jason Dabbagh extracted himself from the school’s foods lab and home economics kitchen area to talk about the event. He said the credit should go to the kids who came up with the unique idea themselves.

“We initially started with the idea of doing a bake sale. I just challenged the kids to think big,” he said, adding that he and the 23 students brainstormed to figure out something different to really get attention. “We thought ‘let’s do a luncheon.’ It was the result of brainstorming in the class.”

The idea stemmed from the students’ awareness of their teacher’s night job. Dabbagh admits that he has a bit of a background in the culinary arts and occasionally instructs some of the cooking programs offered at Servus Credit Union Place.

“The kids started coming up with ideas and their parents stepped up with prizes. It just snowballed very quickly.”

Soon thereafter, they developed a menu for a three-course meal including such tantalizing delights as a Mediterranean sampler (tabouleh, dolmades, olives and sundried tomato hummus with zatar pita chips), saké and miso braised short ribs (with wasabi mashed potatoes and hoisin roasted green beans), and a special dessert called E.S. Gish Tiramisu with espresso caramel. The students prepared all of the food with supervision by Dabbagh. He said that some extra bodies also came out to help on Thursday.

“We’ve got parents in here. We’re smoking it up … I’m pretty sure the fire alarms going to go off right away,” he laughed. Some of the students in the food studies program helped too.

Apart from the food, the event also included door prizes, a raffle and a live auction, all for the $20 ticket. The initial fundraising goal started at $1,000 but they moved the bar a bit higher after quickly reaching that amount. “We’re hoping to raise $2,000.”

With almost 100 tickets sold, early indications look pretty good for the event to be a success. The only problem that Dabbagh sees is feeding that many people a three-course meal in a 40-minute time span.

“It’s going to be a busy lunch hour.”

The organizers have earmarked the proceeds for World Vision for Haiti earthquake relief. The Logos student who first brought up her interest in raising money was also the one who picked the charity. Becca Johnston explained she made that choice after looking through a list of organizations providing assistance to people in the devastated Caribbean country.

“Me and my mom looked at World Vision and Red Cross because the Canadian government was doubling their money, and also World Vision was giving out food and water to them. That is one of the most important needs in Haiti right now.”

The final accounting of profits was still being tabulated at press time.

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Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.