By Chadd Cawson
The St. Patrick’s Day Kitchen Party took place at 6 p.m. on Mar. 17, at From Scratch: A Mountain Kitchen in Fairmont Hot Springs. Tickets to this grand feast were sold at $89.95 per person, with proceeds going towards helping those in Ukraine affected by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.
“As Canadians we wanted to know how we could help with what has been happening in Ukraine, and then we saw this event pop up,” said attendee Nancy Wilfley, expressing her appreciation for Lara and Adrian McCormack, the organizers of the event.
Lara and Adrian McCormack, an Irish/Ukrainian family, double as the owners and chefs of From Scratch: A Mountain Kitchen. The two started their business in 2011 after making the Columbia Valley their home 15 years ago. The pair wanted to use their influence and success to help those affected by the ongoing war overseas. After Lara spoke with many of her connections on how best she could help, the echoed responses were clear; send financial aid.
With her husband Adrian being of Irish descent and St. Patrick’s Day occurring earlier this month, it made sense that a meal made with love, and craic (an Irish phrase meaning “a good time”) was the best way to begin fundraising for the Canada Ukraine Foundation. “This particular organization has boots on the ground, and is humanitarian based, with helping refugees, and providing funding for families who have lost loved ones to the war,” Lara told the Pioneer. “It was brought to my attention that the Alberta government recently directed $5 million dollars to this organization.”
The From Scratch staff prepared, and served up traditional Irish Recipes, and former staff member David Hubbard came out to lend a hand and participate as the evening’s honorary leprechaun. “It’s great to see Canadians, and those in our local area come together, with fundraising like this for such a great cause,” says Hubbard. “The outreach we have seen across the world for Ukraine has been amazing, and heartwarming.”
The two met when Lara was overseas. Adrian grew up in Ireland, boasting strong Irish roots, while Lara grew up in Edmonton, A.B, and is of Ukrainian descent. Lara was a Ukrainian dancer, and an active part of the Ukrainian community in Edmonton. Her first job, at the age of twelve, was teaching other Ukrainian children to dance. “It was my dream to be a professional Ukrainian dancer,” says McCormack. After a knee injury, Lara McCormack was forced to take on another path, which ultimately led her to pursue a business degree. After which, she worked side-by-side with her husband Adrian, tackling the culinary world.
Lara still has many friends and distant relatives in Ukraine. Though her uncle, who was there for 29 years, was able to make it from Kyiv, Ukraine back to Edmonton where his and Lara’s family resides just four days before the war broke out. McCormack’s uncle who worked with the Ukrainian government has a good ear to the ground as to what’s been going on. “My uncle has already lost many people he knows and has a 21-year-old goddaughter that has joined the military,” said Lara. “It’s so frightening and heartbreaking, and real.”
According to Lara, the Canada Ukraine Foundation (CUF) has already reached $17 million out of their goal of $25 million to send to Ukraine. Some that could not be in attendance for Thursday night’s dinner sent the McCormacks donations for the cause via e-transfer.
Before the night of the dinner the McCormacks also began another initiative: Perogies for Peace. With Lara being heavily into numerology, she decided to sell the bags of perogies for $12.12 — the number 12 representing peace, and prosperity. 55 bags were sold in the first week, and another 55 the second. “It’s my baba’s recipe, she’s a big part of why I do what I do,” McCormack told the Pioneer. “I have a lot of fond memories cooking with her.” The perogies come in bags of 14 and are available in their retail freezer section in potato, cottage cheese, and dill. They will continue taking names for orders for an undetermined amount of time.
“I will not stop making these perogies until the war stops,” says McCormack.
In the meantime, until the war breaks, Lara is sending out a call for volunteers to help out with Perogies for Peace. Between the St. Patrick’s Day fundraising dinner and Perogies for Peace, the McCormack’s are making more than a meal from scratch — they’re making a difference. “Our goal is to reach $5000 to send to Ukraine by Easter,” Lara McCormack told the Pioneer. As of Mar.17, the McCormacks have already raised $1900 to be sent to Ukraine, $1500 being from the St Patrick’s dinner.
For more information on volunteering with Perogies for Peace, email email@example.com.