‘Nobody’s leaving hungry’ at this year’s Harvest Dinner

Photo by Shana Fillatrau

Chef Dave Hawey, a professor at Durham College's Centre for Food, is ready for this year's Harvest Dinner. Beside him is the field tomato dish with chilli peppers and feta.

They sat together at one table, 150 guests, dining on fresh produce and meals cooked by Durham College students at the third annual Harvest Dinner.

By the end of the evening, they had also raised $18,750 for student bursaries.

Staff and students hosted the event. Culinary and pastry students cooked and baked the dishes and desserts, while farming students helped to harvest the fruits and vegetables and decide on the menu, and event planning students hosted the dinner.

Casey Chessman, a Horticulture – Food and Farming student, worked on the Harvest Dinner for months. She did a work study program over the summer. She sowed the seeds, maintained the plants and harvested the crops.

“It’s all about local produce, and it’s as local as it gets,” she said.

Chessman also served Durham College brews, including the Durham College Golden Harvest and the Durham College Urban Ale. The centre has its own brewery on site and is expected to open it in the next few months.

Rob Grieve, a professor in the Hospitality, Special Events and culinary programs, along with Chef Dave Hawey, another professor at the Centre for Food, started the Harvest Dinner three years ago.

Grieve said many of the 27 volunteers from the hospitality program had never served an event before, as they just started their program three weeks before the dinner.

He said the event could be improved with better communication between the customers and the hosts about how much food is going to be served. He said customers filled up on food too early in the dinner, and were unable to eat as much near the end. “And, I feel bad for people who are not hungry anymore,” he said.

The unfinished food is composted, while the extra food goes to the students for their volunteer work.

“So we’re very conscience of waste. You’ll know that we’re green certified, so we’re very conscience of the waste that we’re creating and making sure that we’re not wasting food,” Grieve said. Also, extras were sold in the Pantry and given to the restaurant to use.

The evening ended with mingling, talking with new friends, and eating desserts served in the centre’s atrium. As Grieve put it, “Nobody’s leaving hungry, that’s for sure.”

Students from the following programs participated:

  • Culinary Skills
  • Advanced Bakery and Pastry Arts
  • Culinary Management
  • Horticulture Technician
  • Horticulture – Food and Farming
  • Hospitality Skills
  • Hospitality – Hotel and Restaurant Operations
  • Special Events Management