Seema Sanghav © All photos by Tokyo Studio

By Allie Murray

The holiday season brings delicious food, allowing family and friends to create memories that will last a lifetime.

However, more than 800 million people worldwide struggle with hunger and lack of access to food on a daily basis. During a trip to India in 2016, Seema Sanghavi witnessed the famine that is prevalent worldwide firsthand. She felt compelled to help, but was unsure how.

After returning to Canada, Seema began researching and learned that across the world, one third of food produced gets thrown away. Shocked by this statistic, Seema knew exactly what she could do to help.

It was then, in 2018, that she founded Cooks Who Feed, an online retail store selling aprons. Utilizing the chef uniform, Cooks Who Feed donates 100 meals for every apron purchased. To date, they have donated more than 300,000 meals, and are on track to donate half a million meals by the end of 2021.

“I never set out to create a company,” Seema explained. “I set out to create a movement that would empower foodies everywhere to fight hunger in the most socially responsible way possible.”
All the aprons available are made fair trade, eco-friendly, and handmade with love. The organization even partnered with celebrity chefs, offering aprons named after each food hero. The chef-inspired aprons are uniquely designed to represent each chef’s personality and style, and are named after chefs like Art Smith, Christine Cushing, Devan Rajkumar, Gaggan Anand, and Romain Avril.

Devan Rajkumar (left), Romain Avril (Right) © TOKYO STUDIO

“From the moment the fabric hits the sewing machine to the time it ends up in your kitchen, our eco-friendly apron has employed poor women, fed their families, reduced food waste, and provided 100 nutritious meals to the hungry. That’s a lot for one apron,” Seema said.

With their celebrity chef partnerships, Cooks Who Feed aims to help amateur chefs feel a connection to their favourite chef, while giving back to the community at the same time. The fun is also available for kids, with mini Chef Devan Rajkumar and mini Chef Christine Cushing aprons available, in addition to the mini turmeric spice apron available for kids.

To help achieve their goal of half a million meals by the end of the year, Cooks Who Feed works alongside charity partners in the U.S., Canada, and India. With aid from Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Second Harvest, and Zomato Feeding India, the team at Cooks Who Feed are able to ensure meals are being donated to people in need across three countries.

Together, we can create a hunger-free world.

© Photo by BIGSTOCK Cesarz

Tony’s Pastitsio

The holiday season is a time for family gatherings, giving back, and of course, good food. This pastitsio recipe is a Greek-inspired lasagna, which was passed down to celebrity chef Christine Cushing from her father, Tony, and is an annual holiday favourite.

Serves: 10

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil (60 ml), divided
  • 1¾ -pounds lean ground beef (800g)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried Greek oregano (5 ml)
  • ½ cup dry red wine (125 ml)
  • 28-ounce can plum tomatoes with juice, 800g
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste (25 ml)
  • 1 cup water (250 ml)
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon (2.5 ml)
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch allspice ground
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1-pound Pastitsio pasta or bucatini (454g)

Bèchamel

  • ½ cup butter (105 gm)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. flour ( 105g)
  • 4½ cups homogenized or 2% milk (4.2 L)
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup freshly grated kefalotyri or Parmesan (125 ml), divided
  • 2 whole eggs separated + 2 yolks, lightly beaten

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat ½ the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the beef and cook for 20 to 22 minutes or until meat is well browned. Make a well in centre of meat, add the onion and sweat until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to blend.
  2. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the herbs, spices and tomatoes and paste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 40 to 45 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Adjust seasoning. Set aside ½ cup sauce for the pasta.
  3. Cook pasta in a large pot of rolling boiling salted water for about seven to eight minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, and toss it with the reserved meat sauce in a large bowl. Drizzle with other half of olive oil. When pasta has cooled slightly, whisk the two egg whites and toss into pasta, along with a handful of the grated cheese.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for one to two minutes or until smooth. Remove pot from heat and add cold milk in very small batches whisking each time until smooth. Return to heat and whisk constantly on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, about four to five minutes. Season the béchamel with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese. Temper the yolks by adding a bit of the hot béchamel into bowl and whisking thoroughly. Gradually add this mixture into béchamel, stirring briskly to prevent curdling them.
  6. Oil a 13x9x3-inch deep baking dish and pour in the pasta mixture. Ladle in the remaining meat sauce making an even layer on top of pasta. Set aside.
  7. Preheat oven to 350-375°F.
  8. Pour the béchamel over the pasta and cover evenly. Bake at 375°F until top is golden brown and set, about 45 to 50 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F at halfway mark if browning too much. Let stand about 45 to 60 minutes before serving.

Cooks Who Feed Celebrity Chef Ambassador

Christine Cushing is an award-winning chef with TV shows broadcast around the globe. She is a judge on the exciting hit Food Network program Wall of Chefs and also won the 2020 Taste Award for ‘Best Chef’ in a TV food and travel documentary series “Confucius Was a Foodie,” now airing on PBS across the U.S./Canada and on Nat Geo across the world. Enjoy more recipes at Christine’s YouTube channel, My Favourite Foods.

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