Groupe CH cooks up 16,000 meals for Montreal meals banks
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Bell Center has the expertise and capacity to help La Table des Chefs reach its goal of providing 1.6 million meals during COVID-19 crisis.
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Montreal Gazette Photo by Allen McInnis /Montreal Gazette•
There was no ice at the Bell Center Tuesday, but the arena was a beehive of activity as food-service workers assembled and packed 16,000 meals destined for the city’s food banks.
It was part of Groupe CH’s continuing support of La Chef’s tablean organization with a mandate that includes providing food for Moisson Montréal.
“In normal times, La Tablée collects food from us and from restaurants and hotels and passes it on to food banks,” said Patrick Bigras, the vice-president of food and beverage services for the Bell Centre. “With many of the restaurants closed, we’re joining with our many partners to fill a need.”
Bigras said the Bell Center has the expertise and capacity to help La Tableee reach its goal of providing 1.6 million meals during the current COVID-19 crisis. Since the lockdown began six weeks ago, La Tablée has provided nearly 600,000 meals to Moisson Montréal.
“On a (Canadiens) game night, there are 21,000 people in the building and we probably feed 20,000 of them,” Bigras said. “We have fine dining, fast-food concessions, catering for the lodges. Last week, we put our resources together and produced 8,000 meals. This week we decided to double that.”
Bigras stressed this is a team effort.
“IGA provides most of the food and we have Olymel, which provides us with pork and chicken; other suppliers give us vegetables,” Bigras said. “We put it all together.”
While the Bell Center has kitchens located throughout the arena, one of the largest industrial kitchens in the city is located on a floor below the ice surface. That’s where executive chef Yves Lowe and his team devise a menu and cook the meals.
Last week’s menu featured braised pork shoulder, tomato salsa, roasted vegetables and fingerling potatoes. This week, there was herbed chicken with veggies and small potatoes.
“We get a delivery of food on Friday and our culinary teams cooked it on Monday,” Bigras said. “Today we assemble everything in trays provided by Cascades, which is another partner. We label the trays and then they are stored in our freezers downstairs until it’s picked up by Moisson Montréal on Wednesday morning.”