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Nineteen beloved restaurants, cafes and breweries in the Strathcona neighbourhood in Vancouver will come together to participate in Dine Strathcona 2021. A culinary event coordinated by the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, Dine Strathcona runs from November 17 to 30, 2021, to raise money in support of vulnerable community members within Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Each participating restaurant will have a menu feature, and $5 from every sale of those features will be donated to the festival’s 2021 community partner, HAVE Culinary Training Society. HAVE Culinary Training Society provides accessible food service training and employment opportunities to members of the community who face barriers to employment such as poverty, homelessness, addiction, and mental health challenges. Over the past 14 years they have successfully trained 1,200 students with over 75% of them gaining steady employment in the tourism and hospitality industry.

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Taste of Yaletown is back for its 17th year! For the first time, it will run for the entire month of October, with restaurants offering special menus created especially for the event.

This year, Taste of Yaletown (TOY) is putting an emphasis on community and bringing the community back together safely. For every TOY menu sold, Yaletown Business Improvement Association (YBIA) will be donating $2.00 to The Greater Vancouver Food Bank and Yaletown House, a not-for-profit long-term care home for seniors. In addition, the YBIA has partnered up with Earls Yaletown to buy lunch for all 150 staff at the Yaletown House to give thanks for keeping Vancouver seniors safe during the pandemic. Yaletown House is the only seniors home in Vancouver with zero cases thus far. All 150 staff members will be able to book their lunch at any time that works best for them.

Also new to TOY this year is the “Healthcare Happy Hour”, to honour and celebrate every healthcare worker that has been on the frontlines of the pandemic. Taking place every Wednesday during TOY at 4:00-6:00 pm at Bill Curtis Square, healthcare workers can stop by the event for some live music, and pick up a gift basket put together by Yaletown businesses and restaurants. The YBIA will also be setting up a community board where Yaletown visitors can share their own messages of appreciation and support for healthcare workers.

Participating restaurants include Banter Room, Bistro Sakana, Brix & Mortar, Cactus Club Cafe, Grand Chinese Restaurant, Hapa Izakaya, Provence Marinaside, Robba da Matti, Sushi Maro, The Flying Pig, The Greek by Anatoli, and WestOak. Restaurants will be sharing their special menus on their social media channels.

For more information, visit yaletowninfo.com/tasteofyaletown/

Photo credit: Yaletown BIA

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While we are working towards establishing some new normalcy, it is still important to remain vigilant and stay safe. Most restaurants are open for dine-in again now, but some of us may still prefer to eat in the comfort of their own home. Therefore, this Thanksgiving, some local restaurants continue to offer a to-go option so we can celebrate with friends and family safely at home. Here is my round-up. I will continue to update this list as restaurants continue to promote their offering.

And make sure to check the order details for each one to not miss out!

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Being Chinese, we celebrate Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節 every year. It is always on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, promising the roundest, fullest full moon of the year. Part of the tradition is to eat mooncakes月餅, a baked pastry with fillings. The most popular versions we used to get in HK are with lotus seed paste or mixed nuts filling, plus salted egg yolk(s). Over the years, mooncakes have evolved. Bakeries have introduced other flavours of fillings such as red bean and lava custard; and some places sell a version called “snow skin” where the exterior is not baked and is made with glutinous rice flour.

Origin of Mooncakes

Do you know the origin of mooncakes? The one version that is forever stuck in my head is that it was created by rebellions in the Yuan Dynasty, who hid secret messages inside baked pastries, and distributed them to plan a revolt to overthrow the ruling Mongols, leading to the fall of Yuan and the rise of Ming Dynasty.

Buying Mooncakes in Vancouver

This year, Mid Autumn Festival lands on September 21, 2021. If you are interested in making your own mooncakes, check out Mama Lam’s recipe for Baked Chinese Mooncake with Salted Egg Yolk Custard Filling that I shared last year. Otherwise, if you are looking to support local businesses and buy some at a store, here are some ideas for you.

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I am excited to be a part of the NBRHD Restaurant Development Program, initiated by REEF Technology, to help Vancouver restaurants launch a delivery business. The restaurant industry has been hit hard this past year due to COVID, and many have turned to delivery and other innovative ways to keep their business afloat. This private grant money will provide some relief to a few restaurants, and perhaps help expand, preserve, or resurrect some beloved culinary concepts from going under and be lost forever.

The following is the official press release issued by REEF Technology:

REEF Launches Local Restaurant Development Program in Vancouver, Pledging $125K to Help Area Businesses Expand as Part of $1.25M Program

REEF, the largest operator of neighbourhood kitchens and urban logistics hubs in the United States and Canada, announces today the expansion to Vancouver of the recently launched NBRHD Restaurant Development Program, designed to help local restaurants scale their delivery business and provide marketing support through REEF’s Kitchens platform.

In total, REEF Technology has earmarked $1.25M CAD in grant money to support qualifying local restaurants across North America over the course of the next few weeks and months. Restaurants with fewer than three locations qualify to apply for the program, and REEF encourages applications from local women, minority and Indigenous-owned restaurants.

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