With the advent of fast and easy food we have lost the art of preparing and eating food. What was meant to be restful and nourishing to our bodies and souls has become merely utilitarian.
I recently sat down with Mennonite Heritage Village’s (MHV) new Food Services Manager Gil Drolet and Assistant Manager Randy Berg. During the interview it became clear that their love of cooking and arranging food for others came at a young age when their mothers increasingly engaged them in supper preparation. For Gil it started at age 8. Within a few years he could do the whole meal complete with roast and the trimmings by himself.
Both men had their first jobs working in restaurants. After a long career with Canada Services, Randy is now coming back to his first love of food preparation. Gil, on the other hand, never left the industry. He has always been good at French and Italian cuisine. He developed his skills in making satisfying Mennonite food when he married a Koop from Steinbach. He has been an executive chef at a golf course and has managed his own catering business the last 12 years in addition to working at Steinbach Bible College (SBC) as their Director of Food Services for 16 years and counting.
The best way to eat food is to receive it from someone you are well-attached to, like a grandmother or a father. I remember as a boy once having my father serve me a hot plate of fried potatoes with ketchup for supper. It was probably the only thing he knew how to make without his wife around, but to me in the context of being cared for by my father it was one of the best meals I ever had. While society has learned that individual ingredients are important, we have forgotten that the setting of the meal is just as important. Research has shown that food tastes better, that you digest better and have increased nutritional uptake when eating in a state of rest, which comes when you feel safe and loved. Good digestion comes with good rest. That’s why the best meddachschlop nap of the week comes after a big Sunday lunch at Oma’s. It’s why many of us think our mother’s food is the best. It is not necessarily because of the quality, but because of that relationship we have with the food and the provider.
As world-class Chef, Daniel Humm said, “I feel so strongly that… your best meal memory is probably in a place where you were with great people, in a place you love and you had good food. But it probably wasn’t the best food you ever had, but your memory marks it the best food… the environment and how you’re treated has so much to do with how you taste the food.” For the sake of healthy eating and relationships, let’s keep taking the time to make our food and enjoying it with loved ones when we can. The Livery Barn Restaurant is also ready to serve you memorable Mennonite food in a caring environment. Another great reason to visit MHV now!
- May 1, MHV’s outdoor village open for the season! Enjoy over 30 historic buildings and monuments, our Main Gallery, Village Books & Gifts, and beautiful grounds. The Livery Barn Restaurant is open every day 11am-2pm, Sundays 11:30am – 2:30pm.
- May 8, Manitoba Day. This year we are celebrating Manitoba Day on the Saturday before, May 8th. Admission is free to the public. Come enjoy our beautiful grounds together.
- May 29, Mennonites at War Exhibit Premier and Fundraiser. Support the museum and get a personal presentation and preview of the new exhibit! Participants will be able to book in a time-slot on that Saturday to preview the new exhibit with Senior Curator Andrea Klassen. Then at the Chortitz Housebarn a short presentation by Manitoba Museum Curator Roland Sawatzky on Mennonite housebarns and our current restoration needs. All proceeds from the event will go toward the restoration of the Chortitz Housebarn. Our goal is to raise $25,000 in order to complete the project and to take advantage of the matching grant from the province. Tickets are: $75 each (includes a $50 donation receipt per ticket).