Fred UnLEEshed: May 23, 2017

RECORD COURAGE: For the 12th consecutive year, philanthropist and difference maker Lorne Segal, president of Kingswood Capital, chaired Coast Mental Health’s Courage to Come Back Awards.  Presented by Wheaton Precious Metals (previously Silver Wheaton), with Glacier Media as one of the sponsors, the event drew a mighty 1,500 guests who packed the Vancouver Convention Centre for the yearly dinner that celebrated six individuals and their extraordinary stories of triumph over adversity. Deborah Carter (Addiction), Esther Matsubuchi (Social Adversity), John Westhaver (Physical Rehabilitation), Stephen Scott (Medical), Rachel Fehr (Mental Health) and Richard Quan (Youth) were feted for their extraordinary bravery and determination in their recovery. Their remarkable stories of courage inspired British Columbia’s most notable business leaders and philanthropists to show their support. The generous crowd opened their hearts and wallets, donating more than $1.63 million — a record achievement in the event’s 19-year history — to support and promote recovery of those dealing with mental health issues in B.C.

A NEW UNION: Harnessing the power of generations to raise money, Jacqui Cohen and her daughter Kasondra joined forces for the inaugural Face the World Today Gala. The fundraising powerhouses — who have successfully orchestrated their own gala-dos for local charities — merged their Face the World and Face of Today parties to bring a renewed energy to their charitable efforts. The move paid off in spades as 350 guests filed into the social mavens’ family home for the posh $2,000-a-ticket house party on the UBC Endowment Lands. As always, a gorgeous room and endless champagne greeted party guests. Following a royal repast, veteran auctioneer Barry Scott was kept busy selling off luxury trips and impressive works of art. The debut-do would see the social doyennes collect an impressive $925,000 to help a host of local organizations supporting our city’s most vulnerable, from the elderly to abused women to disadvantaged youth.

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ROYAL REPAST: In only its second year, Royal Dinette, located in the city’s financial district below Blackbird Public House, continues to win accolades. Its concept of bringing authentic farm-to-table cuisine to downtown Vancouver was recently honoured with Best Pacific Northwest Cuisine prize at the Van Mag Restaurant Awards. “A place of real, quiet creativity, successfully balancing the tricky tightrope between more midday diners and adventurous foodies in the evening,” said judges. Just promoted was the eatery’s former sous chef Alden Ong, taking the kitchen’s helm after Jack Chen moved to L’Abattoire. Embracing the same heart and thoughtful approach to sustainable cooking as his predecessors Chen and founder David Gunawan, Ong introduced his own take on sustainable cooking to salivating media and social influencers. His roasted cabbage, charred leak oil, house ponzu, sake kasu continues to be on point with Royal Dinette’s philosophy of showcasing a diversity of artisanal, seasonal ingredients. And it’s clear Ong is not afraid to push the boundaries with unique ingredients and cross-cultural interpretations on classic dishes. His roasted ling cod, kabuli chickpeas ragu and smoked piquillo peppers is a tasty example of the culinary limits Ong is willing to go.

GIVING HOPE: More than four decades ago, Hope International Development Agency has been transforming people and communities from suffering to succeeding. Created in New Westminster 42 years ago by a small group wanting to help those in the poorest of countries, the organization aimed to extend a helping hand to provide the most basic of human necessities — clean water, food, shelter, education, health and employment — to communities subject to abject poverty so they can gain self-sufficiency. The journey out of poverty often begins with families gaining access to a reliable source of clean water. This year, the agency directed its humanitarian efforts to Cambodia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. A far cry from the near 100 guests that attended the first HOPE dinner at the Hotel Vancouver in 1975, change makers Sarah Vandekerkhove, Kylé McPhedran, David McKenzie and his son Jon greeted the 2,000 guests that piled into the Vancouver Convention Centre to help thousands around the globe drink their first cup of clean water.

Hear Fred Mondays 8:20am on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition AM690 and 88.1FM; Email: yvrflee@hotmail.com; Twitter: @FredAboutTown

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