Cookbook to serve up profits to help feed underprivileged in Downtown Eastside

Food Stories: A Cookbook for a Cause delivers delicious recipes while also serving up personal stories that are good for the soul.

There are 21 B.C. chefs highlighted in the book ($40 at Gourmet Warehouse and at All the profits from the project will be donated to A Better Life Foundation meal program that helps to get food to people in need on in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“It’s not about advertising for restaurants,” said Jenn Coe who created Food For All, the publishing the imprint for Food Stories, with her partner Sherwin Ngan.

“It is a story of hardship, and how that can inspire you to give back and nourish. These chefs all seem to come from a similar thread. Even if it isn’t a story of hardship it’s an experience or circumstance that motivated them day in and day out for 12 to 15 hour days. You’re feeding people, it is a beautiful thing, and it usually stems from some experience.”

The road to the publication began when the couple’s seven-year-old sons Quinn and Jonathan raised $20,000 for a family in need. The pair’s hard work and dedication inspired Coe and Ngan to start their publishing platform and to focus on the issue of food insecurity.

Food For All publishers Jenn Coe, left, and Sherwin Ngan with their sons Quinn, left, and Johnathan. Photo credit: Hakan Burcuoğlu

Hakan Burcuoglu /


Sherwin and Coe then enlisted Vancouver’s Mark Brand, founder of A Better Life Foundation. They knew that Brand, the proprietor of Save-On Meats, believed food is a human right and that he was on the front lines when it came to the fight against food insecurity.

They asked to meet with Brand to talk about the book and the donation to his foundation. Also at that meeting last fall was Hakan Burcuoğlu, the founder of the blog/online magazine The Curatorialist. He had been with Brand earlier to take pictures for his blog and Brand had suggested he come along to the meeting.

Hakan Burcuoğlu is the writer and photographer for the cookbook Food Stories: A Cookbook for a Cause. Photo: Linda Gallo

Hakan Burcuoğlu /


“He told me that a couple of good Samaritans founded a publishing company and wanted to publish a book for his foundation,” said Burcuoğlu.

Soon Burcuoğlu found himself volunteering to write and shoot the project free of charge, and dove right in with his own recipe for the type of cookbook he wanted to own and read.

“I own a lot of cookbooks, and I have some personal bones to pick with compilation cookbooks specifically because I feel the common denominator for compilation cookbooks is just all these chefs are from the same city,” said Burcuoğlu.

“There’s nothing that threads it otherwise. There is no monofilament that threads all these stories. It’s kind of arbitrary, so I wanted to create a compilation cookbook where it would be something more special. The sentiment, the feeling that threads this book is that of intimacy. It’s of private heartfelt memories. It’s of poignance. Some chefs featured in the book have shared very, very private memories.”

Some of those stories include the topics of transitioning and coming out.

“The vision was always to create something that transcended being a mere object of charity,” said Burcuoğlu.

“We wanted it to be literature. We wanted it to be artful. We wanted it to be colourful. Lots of good pictures … the human aspect of this business.”

The stories are interesting and the pictures are lovely and as comfortable as the food. Nothing in Food Stories screams stylists have been here.

“These recipes are not arbitrary; these recipes are from their own childhood, from their own providence,” said Burcuoğlu. “Every single recipe from every chef holds a tremendous place in their hearts and minds. They mean the world to these chefs.”

This is a charitable endeavour that hopes to help out the ever-increasing problem of food insecurity.

“There are people like me who were single moms living in basement suites who are getting decent salaries but still not enough to live in Vancouver in particular,” said Coe.

“Those are the things that don’t meet the eye. It’s not the Downtown Eastside that’s really dramatic and shocking, it’s your everyday people that you wouldn’t expect that are sending their kid off to school with some crackers in their lunch box that’s it. They are going malnourished, and that leads to mental health and that leads to health care dollars. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Coe says the long-term goal is for Food For All to expand the book model into other cities and communities across North America.

“That would be so great,” Coe said.



Kadieann Tighe’s artichoke cakes with vegan hollandaise. Photo: Hakan Burcuoğlu

Hakan Burcuoğlu /


Artichoke Cakes and Mushrooms with Vegan Hollandaise

Created by chef Kadieann Tighe

1 can (400g) artichoke hearts, drained

1 celery stalk, roughly chopped

1 cup (250 mL) panko breadcrumbs

1/8 cup (30 mL) whole wheat flour

4 cloves garlic, divided

1 tbsp (15 mL) chives, chopped

1/4 tsp (1 mL) Old Bay seasoning

Salt, to taste

Vegetable oil, for frying

2 king oyster mushrooms, cleaned, tops removed

Extra virgin olive oil

2 sprigs thyme

Black pepper, freshly cracked, to taste

1 1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) vegan butter

1 tbsp (15 mL) all purpose flour

1/2 cup (125 mL)  almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

1 pinch turmeric

1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice

1.2 tsp (2.5 mL) nutritional yeast

Artichoke Cakes: In a food processor, pulse together the artichoke hearts, celery, bread crumbs, flour, 2 cloves garlic, herbs and spices. Stop periodically to scrape down the sides to blend evenly. Leave mixture in a chunky consistency, do not over blend. Season with salt to taste.

Divide mixture into 4 equal parts to form patties. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook patties on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until they form a brown crust.

Mushrooms: Cut mushroom stems into 5 cm chunks and soak overnight in a bowl of warm water. Remove from water and pat dry.

Heat a medium sized skillet over medium — high heat. Pour in oil to cover the pan. Add thyme and lightly mashed garlic. Place mushrooms in the skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown in colour.

Vegan Hollandaise Sauce: Melt butter in a small pot over low heat. Once melted, add the flour, and whisk to make a roux. Slowly pour in about half the milk, whisking constantly. Then add the rest of the ingredients, while continuing to whisk. Once satisfied with the thickness and colour of the sauce, remove from heat. Set aside.

To serve: Portion cakes and mushrooms onto two plates. Drizzle the sauce generously over the artichoke cakes and enjoy.

Tips: The artichoke mixture can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For the artichoke cakes, you can blend the panko crumbs in the food processor and coat the patties before frying to give them a crispier texture.

Serves 2. 

Mushroom Soup

Created by chef Juno Kim

1 cup (250 mL) dehydrated mushrooms

Water, as needed

3 cups (750 mL) fresh mushrooms, any variety, sliced

3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided

3 shallots or 1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp (5 mL) thyme, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar

Salt, to taste

4 1/4 (1.125 L) cups stock, chicken and/or vegetable

1 small lemon, juiced and zested

Smoked paprika or black pepper, freshly cracked, to taste

2 tbsp (30 mL) plain yogurt, for garnish

Toasted bread crumbs or croutons, for garnish

Soak dehydrated mushrooms in warm water and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a medium sized, heavy bottomed pot over medium — high heat. Pour in 2 tbsp (30 mL) of oil and add in the fresh mushrooms. Cook until golden brown in colour.

Add onion, garlic, along with the remaining oil, thyme, and vinegar. Salt liberally. Cook until onions become soft and translucent. Add hydrated mushrooms, along with their soaking liquid, into the mixture.

Cook for 2 minutes, then pour in the stock. Season with salt to taste. Lower heat, bring mixture to a simmer and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked, ladle half of the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Return contents to the pot and combine well.

Taste and season with salt, paprika and lemon juice. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of yogurt, bread crumbs and lemon zest.

Tip: When serving, add seared fresh mushrooms on top of the soup for a special touch.

Serves four.


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