By Haley Grinder

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Columbia Valley Food and Farm (CVF+F) hosted their first ever cooking class on Nov. 10 to promote healthy seasonal eating. The class was provided virtually to twenty attendees, under the instruction of Chef Galasa Aden and J2 Ranch.

The event is the first in a series of cooking classes. They charged $20 per device and taught the art of cooking Bolognese. In an inclusive class, all were welcome regardless of cooking experience, where individuals learned how to make sauce, pasta, and seasonal sides, paired with B.C.’s own, Maverick Estate Winery’s Rubeus red wine.

CVF+F sought the collaboration of both Galasa Aden, local chef and Top Chef Canada competitor and Richard Larson, J2 Ranch Manager, for the cooking class. The pair focused on teaching about grass fed wagyu beef, sourcing locally, and ranching within the Columbia Valley.

Combining the knowledge of local chef and producer was important to connect the individual to the roots of their food. “Our organization works to promote and advocate for a thriving local food system in the Columbia Valley,” says Chelsea Girimonte, Food and Farm Coordinator for CVF+F. “We want to connect consumers, retailers, restaurants, and producers and encourage them to support local when they can.”

With the first class a hit for Columbia Valley residents, CVF+F wishes to continue the sustainable food movement in the future. The next class will be held on Monday, Dec. 6, where Chef Luz Hernandez from Su Casa and Cali Nickisch of Patty’s Greenhouse and Market Garden will collaborate, teaching attendees how to make authentic Mexican salsa and vegetarian tacos. The winter staple attached to the dish is squash, enforcing the idea that eating seasonally is easy, even during the colder months.

Girimonte says, “the goal of this series is to teach people about seasonal eating in the Valley (even in the winter), to promote local chefs and restaurants using local ingredients, to promote local farmers and ranchers, and to have some fun preparing food together. We want to bring farm-to-table to your kitchen!”

The Food and Farm organization is looking to gain momentum on a year-round or seasonal basis. Once they do, their hope is to incorporate the Indigenous populations within the valley, as Indigenous culture has traditionally valued seasonal eating and sustainability. CVF+F highly values “Indigenous food sovereignty and celebrating and honoring Indigenous food culture,” shares Girimonte. “We would love to do a session that features an Indigenous chef, a traditional food in the Valley, or has proceeds that go towards an organization that support food sovereignty.”

Chefs and producers donate their time and talent for the classes, and all proceeds are directed towards food access and sourcing local initiatives led by CVF+F, such as Columbia Valley Grown and Made Campaign or their Annual Food Guide.

Girimonte stresses the importance of the initiative. “There’s a long history of traditional foodways, farming, and ranching our Valley, which is now mostly known for recreation. We hope participants start to think about food and agriculture here and how they can support a thriving local food system.”