Food Hero Stories


An innovator and a trailblazer My Food Hero Is...
my Grandmother, Pearl

Emma Waverman, writer, blogger and author, writes about her food hero, her grandmother Pearl, and why she is supporting Community Food Centres Canada this holiday season.

1. Who's the food hero in your life?

My grandmother Pearl is my food hero. She owned the first the kitchen store in Toronto — The Compleat Kitchen on Yorkville. She gave so many nervous cooks courage by finding them the right equipment and encouraging them to try new things. Her store was filled with gadgets and beautiful equipment, but her own kitchen was stocked with the orphaned and broken pieces from the store. Her fridge was always stocked with small bowls of delicious little experiments. 

2. How did she show she cared through food?

She made an elaborate dinner for my grandfather each and every night that was delicious and surprising. She spoiled all of us by always having our favourites stocked in her fridge, and of course the magic candy cupboard. She was always getting us to try new flavours. She was bold and used new combinations and techniques before anyone had ever thought of them. I learned something about food and family every single time I was in her kitchen. She was far ahead of her time. She influenced my mother to be the fabulous cook and teacher that she is today. 

3. What's your fondest food memory of her?

My favourite part of visiting my grandparents’ apartment was sitting on a little stool in her tiny kitchen while she dug around in her fridge and cupboard finding little treats for me to try. Some days it was pâté on warm challah toast, other days it was a new soup that she had been working on for hours. The whole time we were in the kitchen she would have a Benson and Hedges extra mild with the long ash dangling over the sink in one hand, and a chipped paring knife in the other. I learned more about flavour and experimentation in her tiny kitchen than in any restaurant in the world. Every member of our family has a distinct memory of their own favourite dish that she made just for them. I think of her often as I stand at my own stove cooking for my own family. I am more rushed and less thorough than she was, but I hope that I am creating memories for my own family about the power of eating together. 

4. Why is it important for you to support an organization that uses food as a tool to increase physical and mental health + community belonging? What about this approach resonates with you?

My grandmother taught me that feeding people was a joy and a privilege. Her pleasure was derived from feeding others. She did not believe in excuses — she could make a delicious meal on a tight budget in a short time or a banquet over a few days. She believed that anyone could be a good cook and could experience the benefits of a healthy meal if they were given the chance and a few lessons. She would have loved how Community Food Centres Canada intertwines dignity with food and justice. Ensuring people have access to healthy food, and the pleasure that comes with it, is absolutely a family tradition — one I can only hope that I continue in the smallest way.  

Thanks to Emma for contributing to the #myfoodhero campaign, which supports Community Food Centres Canada to offer empowering food programs that build better health, skills, and belonging in the communities that need it most. Join Emma by making a donation today!

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