Everyone Belongs in Nature – An Evening with Power To Be

July 12th marked the evening of Power To Be’s very first Nature Gala (formerly known as Power to Golf) – a fundraising event full of wonderful food, drink and entertainment – which took place at a stunning private property in Cordova Bay.

Five renowned chefs were in attendance, including Victoria’s own Nicholas Waters of Toque Catering and Chef Takashi Ito from Aura. Vancouver’s Chef Kristian Eligh (watch for him – a new Toptable restaurant is in the works for downtown Victoria, with Eligh as Executive Chef, hopefully by the end of 2019); Calgary’s Model Milk/Pigeonhole Chef Justin Leboe and New York City’s Dirt Candy Chef Amanda Cohen were also demonstrating their acclaimed talents.

Drinks were being served up Driftwood Brewery and Road Trip Cocktails – a new-ish mobile bar service by Clive’s own Jayce Kadyschuk. Pouring some lovely wines from Unsworth Vineyards was their own winemaker, Dan Wright, along with Vessel Liquor. Plates and platters of Toque Catering’s unique and delicious canapés were being passed. The sun was out, the wind behaved and our generous hosts Terry and Carol Johnston provided their space for the soirée, their stunning home backdrop to the incredible ocean vista.

Each chef prepared small plates for us: gorgeously presented fresh summer vegetables with black bean bagna cauda (Chef Cohen); beef short ribs with crispy potato, pear, jicama and fava tips (Chef Eligh); poached spot prawn and head karaage, torched albacore tuna, soy onion salad, sambal mayo and wasabi caviar (Chef Ito); Thai-style trout salad with crispy shallots, fragrant rice powder, cilantro, mint, shrimp and peanuts (Chef Leboe) and seaweed wrapped local lamb loin, nasturtium pesto and flowers, crème fraiche pomme purée, lamb shank croquette and black garlic jus (Chef Waters).

Despite the fact that there were 400 or so of us milling about, the yard was roomy and vast. We mingled and ate and drank and visited with familiar friends and now-new friends. We enjoyed the scenery and the scene alike. And this was all a delicious experience in its own right, but the truth is, we were there for something bigger.

I have been a fan-from-afar of Power To Be for several years. A non-profit organization that empowers people living with a disability or barrier to take part in inclusive adventures in nature, the folks from Power To Be are passionate and compassionate and are making a marked difference to hundreds of lives. When Tim Cormode, Power to Be’s Executive Director got on stage and spoke to us about the organization, its history and the changes it’s made for so many, it made me want to stop everything I’m doing in my own life and go work with him and his team. It is this dedication, an extensive silent auction and Power To Be’s ‘Fill the Canoe’ campaign that allowed for a whopping $555,000 to be raised that evening.

You would think all of this would be enough for one night. However, the biggest highlight of the evening was yet to come. As the sun began to drop and we had all had our fill of food, award-winning Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan took the stage. As expected, Sarah delivered a personal, intimate and breathtaking performance. She admits that she typically leans towards the ‘sad songs’ when she is writing and those remain some of my very favourites, but even as she sung us some happy and upbeat tunes, this woman brought me to tears. She conjures nostalgia for me and her gorgeous voice, personality and heart were a joy to watch.

As I sat there at the end of the evening, with my bourbon cocktail in hand, watching and listening to Sarah McLachlan 20 feet away, the scent of the ocean wafting, looking around at all the people who give back to those in need, I was left with a feeling of deep gratitude for my community, the place I live and for genuine organizations like Power to Be, who truly leave me a little bit in awe.

All photos by Kevin Light and courtesy of Power To Be

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Having lived on the West Coast all her life, Rebecca made the move from Vancouver to Vancouver Island in 2004 to pursue her love of fine food and expressive portraiture. A food and lifestyle photographer, her work can be defined ...

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