Clients atthe Qayuqtuvik Society’s food centre in Iqaluit may see culinary benefits from a brief meeting between their chef Michael Lockley and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall earlier this summer.
Lockley received a gift in the post: Let’s Eat: Recipes from my Kitchen Notebook, a cookbook written by Camilla’s son Tom Parker-Bowles.
“She showed a lot of interest in the food centre. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she’s very interested in food and cooking. If you look at her son’s bio, he gives a lot of credit for him being a chef because of his mother’s cooking,” said Lockley.
“So she must be quite a cook herself.”
Lockley was one of more than a dozen Iqalungmiut gathered in the lobby of the legislative assembly to greet Camilla June 29, and to make brief presentations on their organizations’ work. Lockley and the food centre’s job coach Pitseola Ineak, also employees of the Nunavummi Disabilties Makinnasuaqtiit Society, answered Camilla’s questions.
“She wanted to know a lot about the cooking. What do you cook? What kind of food do you make? She wanted to know if we cook a lot of country food. I said we do when we can. But it’s not so easy to get, especially that we need to make things in high volume,” said Lockley.
“She was interested in Pitseola. What she thought about the food centre and how much we help people with it. She really seemed to care about the soup kitchen, what we were doing, that it’s important.”
That’s when Camilla offered to send her son’s cookbook, calling over her private secretary to pass on contact information.
Also, the royal couple donated $15,000.
‘Just because they’re needy, you don’t feed them crap’
The food centre serves lunch Monday through Friday and supper on the weekends. These days almost 100 people per day, usually during a quick half-hour span of time, come out to eat high-calorie meals. That’s approximately 6000 meals a month.
“I try to use whatever techniques I’ve learned to try and make the food tasty and stretch things out,” said Lockley, who graduated from St. Pius X Culinary Institute in Montreal in 2014 after a successful decades-long career as an opera singer.
Parker Bowles’ Let’s Eat: Recipes from my Kitchen Notebook will add to Lockley’s repertoire of recipes to prepare good, healthy food under sometimes trying conditions.
“I’m going to look at them (the recipes) and try to use some, especially if we do more catering,” said Lockley. “And I can adapt some to the high volume here. It gives me ideas of how to put certain seasonings together. I’m certain I’ll use it to help me do certain things in the kitchen here.”
The kitchen works to take advantage of any donations, which generally come from Northmart and Arctic Ventures, and from restaurants.
“We’ll keep what we can, what’s still salvageable. And we’ll come up with a menu to make it work.”
Lockley is adamant that clients at the soup kitchen deserve good food.
“It’s part of my feeling of the dignity anyone deserves. They get a good meal. Just because they’re needy, you don’t feed them crap,” he said, adding works at making the menus nutritionally balanced.
The kitchen does provide seconds and thirds, as well as take-out, which such kitchens in the south don’t generally allow.
“We’re very generous. Especially in the wintertime, we know these guys are out in the cold. They need the calories to survive. We give them a 4000 or 5000 calorie meal. It looks almost obscene, but the people are so skinny,” said Lockley. “They come to us and say, I have kids, I have elders. So we let them do take-outs because the food insecurity is kind of scary.”