Tag Archives: Nathalie Chambers

The Low Down and Dirty – Chef Survival Challenge 2013

It was my first Chef Survival Challenge.  It was a hot day of watching Chefs alongside Firefighters get sweaty and dirty and labour and fight and cook for farmland conservation.

Let me set the stage with four time Juno award winner Lester Quitzau who played amazing guitar.  Riffs and moods and skills.  Big up respect.  Wow.

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Adam Olsen, of the Tsartlip First Nation and interim leader of the BC Greens gave a welcome and blessing honouring the land.  He spoke eloquently about the importance of local farms.

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Lovely Lola and Corey Francis sang a couple of songs in Lola’s stage debut. DSC_0516

Proud mamma Nathalie below.DSC_0520Then the Chefs and Fire-fighters were presented as contestants. In past years it was just chefs but this year the brawn was supplemented.  Plus the local fire-fighters were honoured for…being heroes. In the photo below Madrona Farm’s Nathalie and Dave Chambers point out the obstacles to be overcome in the photo below.  Nathalie and Dave are also heroes.  They got 3000 people chip in and they donated their family farm to a land trust.  How many folks do you know do that?  They wanted their farm to be preserved forever and given to the community after their turn.  Nathalie and Dave show how it can be done on Madrona Farm.  It’s Nathalie’s dream for all farmland to be owned by the community.  The Chef Survival Challenge is about raising funds for communities to purchase farmland (Big Dream Farm-fund) and farm it sustainably.  No GMOs or pesticides, herbicide toxins.  Farmland to be preserved in perpetuity for the community via land trusts.

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The Chefs and Firefighters started the obstacle course with the sack race…DSC_0530

They soon got muddied in the mud pit….

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And then had to crawl under nigh-impossible obstacles while being hosed by malicious gremlins.  (Children).

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Look at the metal pipes.  They are heavy.  Look at them being displaced.

Now look at the lower left corner.  Are you squirming?DSC_0545

From down low and dirty to up high and mighty.

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After the chefs were exhausted, tired, and cotto (means cooked in Italian)… they had to cook up a storm.  The firefighters proving their might, stood around and looked strong.  There was a live auction which raised $100 for an individual to be carried by a firefighter across the mud hole.  Sadly I didn’t get a picture of that but suffice it to say that it was hot.  Okay.  The firefighter took off his shirt.  And he was ripped.  Did I mention that it was hot?

I sang Grandpa Rupert’s Song “This Earth is Ours” along with pianist Lisa Olive.  Lisa is an amazing talent, a little technically challenged with a non-fully functioning  half-length keyboard.  Despite said technical difficulties and false starts when Colin the sound guy ran up to the stage waving for us to stop and support from Lester Quitzau himself, Lisa played with the flair of Chopin.

The victuals were beautifully, locally sourced.  The CRD was there with their water truck eliminating the need for single-use plastic bottles (KUDOS).  Here is the line up for the food.  Well worth the wait. Lots of vegetarian and vegan food I’m pleased to report.

Dessert: berry crumble!DSC_0556

Below, pianist Lisa Olive and I display our GMO OMG tees (organic cotton). But of course! What else would you want to wear to an event honouring the food that comes from the Earth (actually it was so hot that I wanted to go au naturel and bask like a pig in that mud hole)

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I met Kelsey from Innotech Nutrition with his ‘bro’.  Out from from Winnipeg for a few days, he came to Chef Survival Challenge coz he heard that this was the best partay happening in Victoria.  Dude got that right!

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Andrew Weaver spoke below, introduced by Lester Quitzau (sorry for quality of the photo). Andrew mentioned how his kids got him a playmobil farm set since he loves farms that much.  We love that he loves farms.  Hmmm.  I wonder if he has a Green thumb?

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Chefs cook-cook-cooking away on camping gear.  Don’t let that fool you for a minute!

This was big-up gourmet: Note the care with which the marshmallow was roasted.

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This Chef below was a speedy gonzales, beating the fire fighters in the obstacle course and doing cirque du soliel moves on the zipline.  He won for best costume (Note to self, get him for Style-Diet Shot).  (Anyone please tell me the chefs’ names so I can credit them?)DSC_0580

The chefs auctioned off gourmet meals to the highest bidders.

Sadly I couldn’t stay longer.  As I left the burlap sacks in the dust, the music on hiatus, happy community bonding underway with an auction frenzy…. I noted that the mud hole was being well-utilized.

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 Every adult was holding the leash tight on their inner child.

Fighting the urge to get really super dirty.

(Did I mention that it was hot?)

Chef Survival Challenge

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

– JRR Tolkien

Today is Victoria’s Chef Survival Challenge! Billed as a cross between Iron Chef and Tough Mudder, it promises to be a downright hoot.  http://chefsurvivalchallenge.com/index.html

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The ties that draw back to community, that revolve around locally grown food are amazingly ritualistic and atavistic.  Like dancing around a fire, it’s primal to delight in the offerings nature provides. We lived in Italy for 6 years in the hills of Tuscany and Florence. When we first arrived, we were curious about several signs regularly posted throughout the year like “Sagra del Chianina” “Sagra del porchetta”, “Sagra del vino chianti.”  What on Earth were these Sagra all about?  Sagra comes from the religious connotation of feast or celebration. It has been diluted to mean festival, feast. Sagra di Fungi Porcini was a common one. The Sagra brings community together in an informal celebration of local food.

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We attended several of the Italian Sagra over the years.  Sometimes a band would play, but mostly they are a stuff-your-face event.  (In case you were wondering- No pie or porcini-eating contests – the Italians are much too elegant for that)

Chef Survival Challenge in Victoria is a tradition similar to the Sagra but more entertaining.  There will be obstacle courses, a cooking competition by local top chefs, food foraging by said local top chefs who pick food that they cook.  Local celebrities will attended.  Andrew Weaver is scheduled to speak.  I have been asked to sing This Earth is Mine!  The vegetables fruits, berries and mushrooms from Madrona farm are sustainably grown; Nathalie is a passionate advocate for Bees and Biodiversity.  This event is to support Nathalie’s Chamber’s Big Dream Farm Fund and Farmland Conservation.  I can’t think of a worthier cause to support – whilst having fun – I’ve been looking forward to this for months!

I will report back after the next Style-Diet Shot.

Big Dream Farm Fund

Dream Big.

Nathalie Chambers is an infectiously positive person.  She is the only person I know of who has raised 2.7 million dollars in order to save her family farm and then turned around and gifted that farm to the  community via a Land trust.  What a bright, shining example of glorious possibilities.  Thanks to Nathalie, this land will belong to the community.  Forever.  Food security is a pressing problem.  Here is how Nathalie described it to me “Imagine the world as an apple, take 3/4 of that away for the oceans.  We’re left now with 1/4 of that apple.  That’s land.  Now take the thin little peel on this remaining quarter slice of apple.  This piece of peel is how much land we have for agriculture”.

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Nathalie Chambers at Madrona Farm. She farms sustainably with her husband Dave. Most concerned about preserving and enhancing biodiversity, Dave has engineered a light plough a couple inches shorter than standard so that it doesn’t disturb the local bees who hibernate in the ground over winter. Nathalie has studied the trees on her farm and has found out that they enhance biodiversity since that’s where the pollinators thrive.

When we lived in England, we joined the National Trust.  This is a beautiful system by which the people collectively buy and protect historical sites, land and wildlife.  People give as much as they can afford.  It’s a delightfully democratic system with integrity.  The British have much to protect.  I think that Canada, given our sheer size, has way more.

Inspired by the UK Trust, Nathalie has a similar vision for Canada – and the World!- called the Big Dream Farm Fund. http://chefsurvivalchallenge.com/the_big_dream_farm_fund.html  Last night she unveiled her new National Vision tonight at the Vista 18 restaurant at the Chateaux Victoria.  So many people would love to farm but can’t afford to buy the land.  If the community can unite to protect and own the land, then farming can be accessible to those who want to.  Nathalie and her husband Dave are a fine example demonstrating that it’s possible to make a living farming sustainably.

What if every Canadian contributed just 10 dollars to preserving farmland – our glorious patrimony?   Owning our farmland collectively, protecting it from land-grabbing speculators and big biotech companies who want to poison the soils and water with GMO Biofuel production (which is unsustainable, taking far more energy to produce that what it yields) or GMO food production which is highly unsustainable and scary in it’s misled monocrop vision.  Monsanto claims to be feeding the world.  What they don’t tell you is that 70% of GMOs are not intended for human consumption!  Feeding the world, as they say over and over again – Bah Humbug.  They’ve said it so many times that people believe them.  Believe me -the Emperor is naked.

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Chefs running an obstacle course at the 2009 Chef Survival Challenge at Madrona Farm. The Challenge both builds community and raises funds for farmland conservation.

By committing to preserve farmland for sustainable agriculture, we can enhance our biodiversity, keep our water and soils pure and help supply the ever-increasing demand for organic foods (Organic means GMO free.  Organic has never allowed GMOs).  Nathalie has two upcoming events in September called the “Chef Survival Challenge” which brings together local chefs and local farms.  Well-known chefs race and swim and do all sorts of difficult and goofy obstacles before getting to pick their veggies and cook them into a 3 star dish which is judged.  The winning chef becomes the year’s Golden Broccoli winner.   Applause please.  Funds raised from this fabulous community affair go right into the Big Dream Farm Fund.   Raucous cheering!

I will post more about this.  Til then I’ll leave you with a farmer’s anthem written by my Grandpa Rupert in the 1950s.  I can’t talk much about farming without thinking of my gentle, song-writing Grandpa Rupert, an organic berry farmer at Goldstream Berry Paradise.  He loved the Earth and said, “Always leave the soil better than you found it”

Earth Day Message

On this Earth Day 2013, I see a world where it is becoming ever hipper and cooler to garden and farm organically.

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Me and my dad, Arran

I was hanging out in Richmond the other day, dad was busy, furiously typing when I walked into his office

‘Whatcha doing?” I asked.

He kind of hummed and hawed and mumbled for a bit.  My phone rang so I left.  About half an hour later or so, I bumped into him again.  “Hey Deepie, want to hear what I’ve been writing?” he asked.  My friend Nathalie Chambers was there, talking about conservation of farmland (more on that in the future).  Dad read the following out loud to us.  Nathalie was crying by the time he finished.  Me too.

“Dad,” I said, “I have to share that on my new blog”.

He smiled his beautiful smile. “Go ahead.”

Dad and mom are my heroes, more so every day.  Dad founded Vancouver’s first vegetarian restaurant called the Golden Lotus and established Vancouver’s first super-market size Health Food store called Lifestream in the late 1960s.  An idealist driven to business in order to advocate for the Earth, Health, Organic Farming and Ethical business practises, my parents are inspirations to thousands.  Dad has been called a ‘folk hero”, “hippie capitalist” among other names.  To me he is a loving, kind, and firm father with a fierce sense of justice. When he feels that something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘just’ or ‘injust’, he will stop at nothing to stand up and say so.  My Mom is a determined mother bear and lioness.  She also has that uncanny common sense with the wisdom of Solomon.  They are a fierce team.

In case you are wondering, the goal of “The Deeper Side Blog” is not to promote my parent’s or their company but to use them and many many others as beacons of light, as shining models; templates of success for those searching to creating meaning in life.  I was thrilled to hear from Tricia Millhouse Walter feeling moved by despair about the conditions of children in her neighbourhood and transforming that energy into positive action by working for the non-profit ‘Corazon’.  She posted on my first ‘blogger’ post and I’m not sure that came through.  She is another example of people moved to ‘be the change’.   Although I’ve started this blog talking about the right of the seed, I am brewing and steeping with overflowing words in my bottomless teapot of ideas.  I’m just wondering which one to write next – and trying to find the time!  I could write this blog 15 hours a-day, not eat or sleep (Yeah, I’m a little obsessive).

Here is the Earth Day message.

EARTH DAY OPEN LETTER FROM ARRAN & RATANA, Nature’s Path co-
founders

On this Earth Day, we give thanks to the Earth, our Mother, and to the Creative
Spirit, our Father. We give thanks to you, our beloved Customers for believing in
and supporting Nature’s Path and what we stand for: good wholesome healing
food, food which is good for the planet, good for people, for animals, for farmers
and all living things. We give thanks for Light and Love, Peace and Beauty. May
it heal, spread and overcome the dark, the forlorn, the hungry, the pain and the
forgotten. We give thanks to the hundreds of valued team members at Nature’s
Path.

On this Earth Day, we would also like to say a few words in support of the
powerful, relevant, beautiful and poetic new film about food which is being
released across North America and the world: GMO OMG by filmmaker Jeremy
Seifert.

There is a parable about the Earth, which we’d like to share:

Once, the Earth was asked how She could support the weight of the mountains,
the land, the oceans, the peoples, the animals, the birds and fishes. How could
she possibly withstand the occasional famine, war, bloodshed and poverty. How
could she bear such a burden?

And the Earth replied, “I can stand any burden, except an ungrateful heart.”

Love to you all,

Arran & Ratana Stephens