By Lory Diaz
Youth Without Shelter had their Cover Me Urban party presented by Tangerine on April 5, 2017 at Maison Mercer, located at 15 Mercer Street in downtown Toronto. This year’s fundraiser generated over $119,000 to support emergency shelter and skill-development programs for youth ages 16-24. Guests were invited to live music, a fashion show, and an endless supply of delicious treats all evening!
The Maison Mercer space was transformed into neighbourhoods from around Toronto with various activities. Guests could visit areas like Chinatown, St. Clair West, Centre Island, and Little India, each with a signature dish and fun activity. Centre Island seemed like the place to be though as guests were invited to shoot some hoops and enjoy a little skee ball!
I started by visiting the group of young chefs from the Thistletown Collegiate Institute Culinary Program who were cooking up mac & cheese bacon balls. Their three cheese blend left the inside creamy, while the beer-battered exterior had a light crunch that reminded me of my favourite carnival food. Some of the students in the culinary program are residents of Youth Without Shelter, so the school provides programming that reinforces the skills developed at the shelter.
The Fonda Lola team was in attendance serving up some cochinita pibil tacos (a traditional slow-roasted pork dish from Mexico) with a shot of ceviche made with basa fish marinated in lime juice, cilantro, red onion, celery, cucumber, and a hint of ginger. This was a nice shot of citrus to cut through some of the heavier dishes, and a great way to cleanse the palate.
Major activity was taking place in Little India’s corner as the Chaska team delivered kathi rolls (flatbread with choice of paneer or chicken tikka) and bhel chaat: puffed rice, tomato, potato, and onion tossed in a sweet, sour, and spicy chutney.
Little India also featured henna by Dimple Shah! The artists were creating beautiful free-hand designs with the greatest of ease and finishing each with a dusting of glitter. I’ve never seen the addition of glitter before, and think it’s a fantastic idea to add an eye-catching detail while waiting for the henna to dry and set.
Guests were invited to support YWS by buying raffle tickets for items like Beats by Dre headphones, or bidding in the silent auction. Items included a variety of kitchenware and small appliances, nights out, spa packages, tickets to various sporting events, original artwork, and much more!
Chinatown hosted the Crowne Plaza team, as they prepared Thai-style red chicken curry, stir-fried egg rice, and mango and bean sprout salad.
The Big House Pizza team shrunk down their Sir John A. MacDonald pizza (think of a Big Mac translated into pizza terms) into mini skewers for the Cover Me Urban party! If you’re not familiar with this peculiar dish, it consists of mini all beef patties, cheese, pickles, onions, mini sesame seed bun balls, shredded lettuce, then drizzled with the signature special sauce. They also brought along a John Candied Ham and Cookout Chicken skewers for some fun bites!
My last stop was at the More Than Pies table to decide between their red velvet cupcake, strawberry tart, or glazed brownies. I went for the strawberry tart, and enjoyed a delightful taste that reminded me of homemade pies.
It’s important to support groups that have a positive impact on Toronto, like Youth Without Shelter, that are working towards empowering youth who may feel limited in their options due to circumstances beyond their control. Helping these organizations out doesn’t have to just be financially by attending fundraisers, it can also be through volunteer work, or raising awareness of the issue through open discussion. I would encourage everyone to figure out what they feel strongly about and get behind that cause!