Breaking bread to build community

Sands Victoria class takes challenge out of Cooking for One

For so many of life’s memorable moments – holidays, weddings, anniversaries – we come together around food, breaking bread together as shared celebration. Yet as families and friends gather to remember a loved one, too often food is an afterthought.

Chef Michael Williams aims to change that.

Joining Sands Victoria as Executive Chef three years go, Williams quickly elevated the culinary offerings to a quality that should be expected as people come together to remember and honour a loved one. Well known as well as the talented chef for Country Grocer, and for his many charity events in the community, Williams was drawn to the opportunity to help bring people together as they honour someone special.

“To be able to cook in celebration of someone’s life, that’s such an amazing thing to be a part of,” he reflects.

That philosophy resonates with the community, says Laura Van Sprang, Sands Victoria manager.

“We’re so fortunate to have someone who is so passionate about food,” she says. “As people leave the more sombre atmosphere of the chapel and move into the reception area, with the tables laid with Chef Michael’s amazing food, the atmosphere changes. It really helps elevate the mood as people begin to share stories and memories. Quite often we hear, ‘This is the best catering we’ve ever had.’”

Comfort to share

When Van Sprang joined the Sands Victoria team, she was delighted to discover another community-minded initiative – homemade soup, hand-crafted by Chef Michael in the Sands kitchen, for families who were coming in to make arrangements to take home.

“We would love to give our families something to take home, some comfort,” Van Sprang reflects. After losing a loved one and working through the grief and myriad details that follow, cooking is often the last thing on someone’s mind. “To have a delicious, homemade meal to quickly warm up when they get home, it’s just one less thing they have to worry about,” she says. “It also reminds families that even after they leave our building, we’re still here for them. Once you make arrangements at Sands, you’re part of the Sands family.”

Cooking for One

The same philosophy is at the heart of a new Cooking for One series, launching Oct. 11.

When a spouse dies, cooking often becomes an afterthought for the survivor. Perhaps their husband or wife did much of the cooking before, or they simply lack interest in cooking for themselves.

These free, seasonal classes are open to everyone in the community and offer a chance to explore delicious and nutrition meals amid good company. Not only will guests learn from Chef Michael, but they’ll finish with a shared meal, with recipes to take home. “It will be something simple so everyone is having fun,” Williams says. “People know me as a cooking instructor in Victoria for 12 years, so to be able to join Sands in sharing a few simple recipes with people who may be having trouble putting food on the table, and turning it into a social activity, is a wonderful opportunity.”

Doors for the first class will open at 5:30 p.m. with cooking starting at 6 p.m. There is no cost to register, but please RSVP to 250-388-5155 as space is limited.

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