New partnership delivers gourmet meals to Calgary seniors
CALGARY -- A partnership between ATCO’s Blue Flame Kitchen and the Kerby Centre will see hundreds of Calgary seniors being delivered gourmet meals for the next month-and-a-half.
Since the pandemic shut down public access to the Blue Flame Kitchen, chefs there have been preparing meals for pick-up, and for the last two months, have been working with the Calgary Senior's Resource Society preparing meals for seniors facing food insecurity issues.
Beginning Monday, they’ll turn their culinary skills to help Kerby Centre clients by preparing gourmet meals for delivery.
“There’s a quite a pedigree of chefs back there. There's probably a couple hundred years of experience in the kitchen through the team of eight,” said Blue Flame head chef JP Gerritsen.
“All the chefs come from such varying backgrounds, with strong culinary knowledge of different foods and cuisines and cultures and experiences. They've put together really well thought out meals that sort of are healthy and nutritious and cost effective. And they work, they keep the seniors interested in engaged."
The meal plans are done on an eight-day rotation to avoid repetition.
“We try to do chicken, beef, some vegetarian meals, soups, stews, hearty food that seniors can sort of recognize and fall back on, remember from them growing up,” said Gerritsen.
“But it’s also food that's just healthy and nutritious that it's a complete meal.”
The meals are picked up fresh every morning from ATCO’s Blue Flame Kitchen by and army of volunteer drivers from the Kerby centre.
“People are lonely. And this gives us a chance to meet other people,” said volunteer driver Sharlene Karkut.
“(The Kerby clients) are amazing people, and sometimes they just get forgotten about. So it's amazing to be able to give back and help them.”
The Kerby Centre’s CEO is thrilled to be able to bring the Blue Flame’s culinary expertise to the centre's shut-in and isolated clients.
“If ATCO had called me and said, ‘Hey, we want the Blue Flame Kitchen to deliver meals to you every day for seven weeks,’ I'd be pretty thrilled,” said Larry Mathieson.
“I think this takes supporting the community to a whole new level. It's chef inspired meals and so we're pretty excited about the partnership.”
The Blue Flame Kitchen predates its parent company, ATCO. Founded in 1930 by Canadian Western Natural Gas, it was created to teach homemakers how to cook using natural gas stoves.
Over the decades it published hundreds of cookbooks, which found homes in kitchen cupboards, not just in Alberta but across Canada.
Chefs at the kitchen still teach cooking classes for both children and adults. Those will be going online as Zoom classes this fall.
Gerritsen says supplying meals to seniors in the community during the pandemic is just a continuation of the ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen’s commitment t to Albertans.
“So it really just keeps us connected. We are part of Alberta. We are we work in Alberta. We live in Alberta," said Gerritsen.
“The whole company is very, giving back to the community. So to be able to do this and have the backing of a company behind you is just such an amazing feeling.”
Blue Flame chefs will be preparing meals for Kerby Centre seniors until thanksgiving.