Grills for Good connects chefs for a cause

Dartmouth native Mark Brand brings his do-gooder dining revolution to the east coast.

Grills For Good
Tuesday, June 4
Good Robot Brewing,
2736 Robie Street
5:30-9:30pm, $55,

Everyone knows #BeingHungrySucks, but for Mark Brand and the team behind Vancouver's A Better Life Foundation it's more than a hashtag, it's a call to action: One repeatedly answered through initiatives to help people build upward mobility through increased food security.

The centre of the ABLF universe is undoubtedly East Van's Save On Meats. Home to the classic diner and commissary kitchen, Save on Meats is well-known for both its token program and the iconic neon-pink pig that has lit the east end neighbourhood since the original butcher shop opened in 1957. Brand, a Dartmouth native, and his crew resurrected the institution—which closed in 2009—back in 2011. Since it's rebirth, he and his team have worked with partners like Atira Women's Resource Centre and BC Housing to help feed 2 million meals (and counting) to residents in what has been called "Canada's poorest postal code."

Recently Brand's branched out, taking the Greasy Spoon Diner Supper Series—a chef-led affordable "anti-gala" that helps fund ABLF's anti-poverty work—stopping by cities like Halifax and Toronto. In 2019 it's set to expand even more, with events planned in Boston, San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, Milwaukee, as well as back in Halifax, and a new brick and mortar location in progress in NYC.

Tuesday's Greasy Spoon will make its Halifax return, with Grills For Good—a five-course celebration of east coast flavour going down at Good Robot Brewing in support of ABLF and Halifax's Brunswick Street Mission.

"It will be amazing," writes Brand from the road, when asked why people should attend. "The chefs are the best of the best, the people are spectacular and it's $55 to help feed people in critical food insecurity."

Brand's not wrong about the line-up. Guests will have the opportunity to sample dishes by Jennifer Crawford (a contestant on this season of MasterChef Canada), Andy Hay (runner-up in 2018's competition), Charlotte Langley (PEI-born, Toronto-based, widely praised), Stephanie Ogilvie (chef at Black Sheep, and co-creator of Hop Scotch Dinner Club) and Brand himself, with live music by Adam Baldwin.

For Ogilvie, who worked alongside Brand at Halifax's first Greasy Spoon last December, the opportunity to be creative with food while making a difference is a big part of what draws her to help.

"It goes beyond the event," she says. "Connecting with other chefs, seeing people that really care and want to get involved. Knowing I've done it for something good. It's not just another event—it's bigger than that. I think it's going to be really special. A huge celebration of east coast flavours and helping out."

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