Sometimes I feel like people are the most creative when they have limited resources. In this particular project, ‘A Summer Dinner’, that resource was time. With one week left to throw something together for our Lawn Summer Nights lawn bowling team everything fell into place thanks to some amazing people.
If you don’t know Lawn Summer Nights it’s a nation wide lawn bowling league that acts as a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis Canada. Since 2009, over $565,000 has been raised through the event to help those living with Cystic Fibrosis in Canada. It’s a whole lot of fun that puts teams of 4 people together on the lawn bowling green every week for the entirety of July. Team registrations are part of the fundraising, but each team themselves is responsible for raising funds. Being my second year of participating I put together two teams of four, one team all girls, the other team all guys and we interchanged every week. Our teams were an eclectic mix of entrepreneurs, marketers, DJs, graphic designers, restaurant managers and hill staffers.
With our own individual strengths we set out to plan an event together before our fundraising deadline. The very first people we reached out to was a business near and dear to the hearts of several people on our team, La Bottega Nicastro. With most of our team being regular patrons, ‘alumni’ and even still staff of the store it was an obvious choice. Not only for the mutual love of the establishment but for the opportunity to work with their amazing products. With Rocco and Pat Nicastro’s blessing and donation of our all of our food products we went to work creating a menu.
By ‘we’ I really mean our secret weapons Micha Miljevic-Laroche and Alessandro Nicastro. They made for the perfect “ying and yang” in culinary styles- the rustic homegrown style of Micha that’s been honed at La Bottega for the past eight years, paired with Alex’s formal edge hailing from Toqué in Montreal, our menu came together quickly and in the most beautiful fashion.
Together we decided the venue was to be my loft located steps aways from La Bottega, which turned out to be very handy for picking up last minute items. After measuring the space we knew that we could only seat a mere 28 people. To our surprise after broadcasting the dinner, all 28 tickets were sold under 24 hours and we were off the races. Lawn Summer Nights sponsor Obikwa wines joined in and our very own teammate Blake Sutherland agreed to DJ our party from my loft space which doubled as our DJ booth. Bottega friends Filippo Principato and Brad Goulet pitched in by agreeing to serve the dinner pro-bono, bless their hearts.
Finally it all came together on a warm Tuesday evening where I set two communal tables lined with white candles, wild flowers and thrifted votives from Value Village and the Salvation Army. Lucky for us photographic talent Zac Pantalone, also known as Bottega’s resident barista and one of Canada’s only Illy coffee experts, donated his time to capture the evening.
The evening was a success beyond our own expectations. It still boggles my mind that Alessandro and Micha served 28 plates out of my galley kitchen that had ONLY two working burners, one of which had a busted heat indicator. Neither of them complained for a second, and kept smiling even though they were dying in what they called my (kitchen) “sauna”. A far cry from Toqué or La Bottega’s own open kitchen for one night my loft was a fine dining restaurant. Only pros like these two could do something like this in just six days.
I have to say it’s extremely hard to find local businesses like La Bottega Nicastro that continually support initiatives in their own community, especially the patrons of their store. We couldn’t be more thankful for their generosity as well to that of Obikwa wines (via LSN) for helping us make the night very special.
Love this dinner? La Bottega does catering as well as cooking classes hosted by our very own teammate Micha. All classes are Italian food and wine focused and they even offer private customized cooking classes and wine tasting for corporate groups and special events.
– Official Team Roster –
Laurence de Montigny St-Onge
– Official Subs –