I’ve always loved working with food,” says Robert Bégin, who spent 25 years running kitchens for Vancouver not-for-profit organizations and, as of this May, is our own Friday lunch-time volunteer cook.
The fascination began as a child, watching his mother — “a very good cook” — prepare the family meals back in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, outside Montreal. A one-year culinary arts course at Vancouver Community College launched his career. And that career indirectly brought him to us.
“I knew Clemencia [Gómez, Executive Director] long ago, when we worked with sister organizations downtown. I heard about this opening through the grapevine, I’m retired, I wanted to do some volunteer work — and here I am.”
“It’s very relaxing”, he says, after his professional years: soup-and-sandwich lunch once a week for 10-16 people, compared to three meals a day for 75-125 people. “I’m preparing three litres of soup for lunch, instead of 12 gallons!” he says, laughing at the contrast. And he enjoys the other members of the team: Leah T’ien (Office Administrator), with whom he plans the menus, and Mariana,Teresa, and Josef, the volunteers who work with him in the kitchen.
After 25 years as a kitchen professional, the kitchen is still where Robert wants to be as a volunteer. “Food is an important part of many cultures, people gather around the table, they share ideas along with the food and enjoy talking with each other. So, yes — I love food, and I love creating meals for people to share.”
Story and photo by Penny Williams
Try delicious meals prepared by our volunteers by signing up for our lunch program! You can register at 604-732-0812.