ConEd student teams with local chefs (and RRC grads) in support of Winnipeg Harvest

Leane Funk is using her good taste to fight hunger.

Funk, a professional server and Red River College Continuing Education student, is one of the foodies behind the Winnipeg Supper Club, a regularly occurring secret dinner event.

On Sat., Feb. 25, the Winnipeg Supper Club is teaming up with Winnipeg Harvest to present Harvest Homegrown, a not-so secret, collaborative dinner event. Harvest Homegrown will take place at Winnipeg Harvest (1085 Winnipeg Ave.) and will feature local food prepared by Deseo chef Jordan Carlson and MasterChef Canada runner-up Jeremy Senaris, both of whom are Red River College graduates.

Harvest Homegrown will raise money for Winnipeg Harvest and its hunger-fighting initiatives.

“It just so happened that six months ago, David Northcott (Winnipeg Harvest executive director) ended up at a table I was serving and we just started chatting,” says Funk. “I mentioned who I was and he had heard of (Winnipeg Supper Club). One thing led to another and we discussed starting something together. Then I went and met with Colleen McVarish (Harvest development manager) and now we’re doing a dinner.”

Funk is excited for dinner guests to see Carlson and Senaris in action.

“I thought with their contrasting cooking styles they would be a good collaboration,” she says. “It’s a pretty open kitchen and we have a chef’s table that is available for purchase for a group of 10. It’s available at a bit of a premium but they’ll be front row, watching the chefs and being served by Jeremy and Jordan.”

Funk first became passionate about food not in Winnipeg, but in Toronto. Originally from Reinfeld, Man., a small village outside of Winker, Funk moved east after high school to take a communications degree at Centennial College.

“I started my career working in advertising as an account manager, but within about five years I realized the desk thing was not for me,” Funk said. “I started working at a restaurant, thinking it was temporary, and I ended up at a cozy little pub in Rosedale in Toronto. They had really good food, really good wine and really good beer. It was a beautiful space and the owners were huge on food considering it was just a pub. As a group, we started going out for dinner and I started experiencing dining in Toronto and it just grew from there.”

Funk moved to Winnipeg six years ago, and in 2013 started the Winnipeg Supper Club. In the secret dinner party, diners are only informed of the date and time of the event and what local chef will be preparing their meal. Not only are the guests completely unaware of what they’ll be eating, they’re also kept in the dark as to where they will be eating, with the location disclosed mere hours before the event.

Funk loves to expose diners to new tastes and up-and-coming chefs.

“I try to stick with the younger chefs in town, just to give them freedom with the menu, freedom to have a night where they get to show off their skills and oversee planning the menu,” Funk said. “Honestly the food they come up with blows me away every single time.”

Funk is thrilled to have a chance to pair her passion for food with a worthy cause like Harvest Homegrown.

“I really enjoy these dinners (in the Winnipeg Supper Club), but without the element of some sort of community involvement, there’s been a satisfaction that’s been lacking,” Funk said.

Harvest Homegrown gets underway at 6 p.m. Tickets are $150 and are available at eventbrite.ca