Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — This Thanksgiving, many families in Canada will have reason to give thanks to Jean-François Archambault — even if they don’t know his name.
Archambault turned the death of his mother into a profound enterprise to nourish the young people in Montreal. He broadened his project to other locations in Quebec and has steadily moved west across Canada, bringing an inventive way to provide meals to children in need to Toronto, Calgary and now Vancouver.
Archambault was in the largest city of British Columbia earlier this month to discuss the impending launch of La Tablée des Chefs program on the west coast. In other cities, he has mobilized chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers and arena management to stop a ghastly amount of food waste.
Through his entrepreneurial vision and leadership, La Tablée des Chefs delivers more than 500,000 meals annually to people in need. His years of experience in the hotel industry revealed to Archambault the sad reality that many meals prepared for guests end up going to waste.
“At the end of the night, the kitchen staff would be told to ‘wrap up’ the rest of the food, but that didn’t mean putting it away. ‘Wrapping up’ meant throwing it in the garbage,” Archambault says.
That practice appalled him. Knowing there were thousands of people in need for food in Quebec, Archambault set out to make a difference. He says the impetus for his public service was the loss of his mother, who died of cancer about 15 years ago. Archambault calls her passing a catalyst that provided deeper meaning in his life and the focus needed to devote himself to a “life-affirming” path.
He launched La Tablée des Chefs in 2002 and immediately enlisted the Bell Centre, Montreal’s premier sports and entertainment facility, in the food-recovery program. La Tablée des Chefs saves tens of thousands of tons of food from the arena’s garbage bins each year. The program also gives culinary workshops in 80 high schools across Canada.
Heading west, the program will be in two high schools and two hotels in Vancouver, with the possibility of the 18,000-seat Rogers Arena also enlisting. David Hawksworth, one of the finest chefs in the nation, will be an ambassador for the program, helping to expand La Tablée des Chefs as broadly as possible within British Columbia.
“Anything to do with kids, I can’t say no,” says Hawksworth, while explaining his reasons for being involved in the program. “They came to us with a good idea for food recovery and the concept was solid. If there’s a way to feed more kids and teach them about food, I’m all for it.”
MORE ABOUT LA TABLEE DES CHEFS
Chefs: Leading chefs such as Normand Laprise of Montreal’s Toqué! and Patrice Demers of Patrice Patissier are among the ambassadors for La Tablée des Chefs. Pascal Tremblay, who has worked for Le Cirque du Soleil and the First United Church, is the representative of La Tablée des Chefs in Western Canada and will work with schools in Vancouver on culinary workshops.
Contact: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 1-450-748-1638.
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