Japanese-style stroganoff, cereal créme brulee and peanut butter and jelly pie — what do these dishes have in common?

Along with being delicious, they each contain at least two items that can be found in a Calgary Food Bank hamper.

And that's the basis for Octoberfeast, which utilizes the creative talents of local chefs and runs until Oct. 15.

Cindy Drummond of the Calgary Food Bank appeared on the Calgary Eyeopener to explain how it works. Below is an abridged version of that conversation.

Q  Where did this idea come from?

A: It started about a year ago when I was noticing that so many restaurants wanted to partner with the Calgary Food Bank, and the way they would typically do that would be to host a non-perishable food drive. Then we started brainstorming and wondered, is there a way that is more meaningful to work with these restaurants, who are very creative and have great ideas working with fresh ingredients. And also try to drive traffic to those restaurants because, as you know, when times are tough, people don't go out to eat for dinner that much.

Q: What were the responses from the restaurants and the chefs when you pitched this to them?

A: It took them a little while to come up with signature dishes. I think if we asked them, they would say they were puzzled in the beginning. But you mentioned a few of the dishes, and really, they are outstanding.

Q: What are some of the more creative [dishes] you've noticed on the menus?

A: You mentioned the Japanese stroganoff from 5s17. That was very creative. I did try the Westhills National PB&J cheesecake, which has a cereal-based crust — very unique.

Q How many restaurants do we have on board?

A: There are 20 of them.

Q So lots of choice, some really interesting ideas, but how does all of this help the Calgary Food Bank?

A: When you go to those restaurants and order the signature dish, $1 comes back to the Calgary Food Bank, and all the funds raised from Octoberfeast, we're going to purchase fresh, perishable items.

Q: We talk a lot about the non-perishable items that go into a food bank hamper. Refresh us on some of the fresh things you put in there.

A: We make sure every hamper meets Canada's Food Guide. That means we have dairy, we have produce [and] we have fresh meat.

Q: Where is the best place for people to get all the information on the participating restaurants?

A: We have all the restaurants listed on our website.

Participating restaurants include:

  • 5s17
  • Alloy Dinning
  • Avec Bistro
  • The Beltliner Diner
  • Deerfoot Inn & Casino
  • Fairmont Palliser
  • The Fine Diner
  • Hotel Blackfoot
  • Hyatt Regency Calgary
  • Market
  • National on 17th Ave.
  • National Westhills
  • Provision
  • Seed N Salt
  • Sky 360
  • Tavernatta
  • Trolley 5
  • Without Papers Pizza
  • Wurst
  • Yellow Door Bistro

​With files from the Calgary Eyeopener