The Icing on the Cake at the Festival of Flavours

Arbour Trails hosts final celebration of residents’ favourite recipes

By Kristian Partington

If the Festival of Flavours held throughout Schlegel Villages this summer was a cake, then the icing was spread on thick at the Village of Arbour Trails in Guelph on Sept. 24. (One might imagine something similar to the dark, fudge-like icing atop the Chocolate Cherry Cake presented by Arbour Trails resident Betty Fisher.)  

Two residents posing for a photo wearing aprons
Food and friendship were central to the Festival of Flavours.

This was the day residents, team members and volunteers from across the seven western villages gathered for the final showcase of the best recipes from each village in three categories: appetizers, drinks and desserts. A week before, The Village of Humber Heights hosted the eastern villages in a similar celebration of some of the finest food and drinks from among their residents, and though both events carried the slight weight of friendly competition, it was all done in the spirit of fun and fellowship.

Guests at both events sampled a range of foods, speaking to the chefs about the history of each recipe and the stories they’ve inspired over the years. Imagine a high-end food show, complete with samples of local beers and wine, and add the spice of many decades worth of collective memories in each bite.

“What I love the most about this event and this day is the spirit and intent where it culminates from,” said Schlegel Villages chief operating officer Paul Brown as he reflected on the Festival of Flavours. “One of the richest natural resources we have in the province and in the world is the knowledge, experience and wisdom that our elders bring, and today is about honouring, recognizing and celebrating that.

“Wisdom and knowledge and experience, it will live forever if it’s shared from one person to the next,” he continued, “and today was about sharing the many talents and creativities and the natural passions that people have.”

The creativity and the passion of the team members who work in the kitchens each day was also on display during the events at Humber Heights and Arbour Trails, which also featured a “Chopped Canada” competition, where participants were given five ingredients unknown to them until the unveiling and within 30-minutes they were asked to create a unique dish. Some were traditional, and some were puréed, showcasing the fact that while not everyone is able to eat in the same way, excellence need never be sacrificed when it comes to mealtimes. 

A chef chopping up vegetables
  Chopped Canada comes to Schlegel Villages.

The team members are always looking to enhance mealtimes for residents, says Jill Estioko, the director of food and hospitality who oversees all villages, and she points out that two of the recipes featured at the Festival of Flavours will find their way onto the regular village menus: the Pineapple Fluff offered by Coleman Care Centre’s Jeannine Rouselle and the Corn and Bean Salad created by Joanne Miller from the Village of Humber Heights.

This is one more example of the active role residents play in the communities they call home, and Jill says all the participants in every village should be proud of the contributions they made. 

Arbour Trails resident Marg Stinson spoke of that pride and the great sense of community among the villages as people prepared to leave. “Today is a sunshine day,” she said. “There’s sunshine outdoors but there’s certainly sunshine indoors, there’s compassion and care, there’s friendliness and cooperation, beauty and learning.”

And throughout the Festival of Flavours this summer there was plenty of fine food and friendship, cherished almost as deeply as the wisdom and passion of the people the events celebrated.