When the Schubert Centre reopened its doors at the end of August, it welcomed not only guests back to its cafeteria but a new chef.
The man under the white coat is Steven Rush.
“It’s terrific,” Rush said of the opportunity to work the centre’s kitchen. “The Schubert Centre is an icon in this community. It’sbeen here forever it feels like. It’s good to be back and have the doors open and have people come see us again.”
The Schubert Centre had closed its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March and chef Taylor Belanger was laid off along with all other centre staff March 27, but he continued to come back daily on a volunteer basis to ensure all seniors in the community could access meals through the Meals on Wheels Program.
He has since found full-time employment and left behind some big chef shoes to fill and Rush is up to the challenge.
“I started cooking when I was eight in my grandmother’s kitchen and it’s been a passion ever since,” he said.
Rush has a passion for cooking and travel and after spending a decade in Spain, he is bringing the European kitchen to Vernon — specifically focusing on eating local.
He’s bringing the farm to the table.
In just three weeks, Rush said the Schubert Centre is serving just under 50 per cent locally sourced foods in its ever-evolving menus available on Facebook.
“Shirley (Higgins, Schubert Centre manager) and I were talking recently and we want to get that to over 80 per cent by the end of the year,” Rush said, Friday, Sept. 11.
“Other than the nutritional value of (farm to table), it gives us a chance to support local and that’s something everyone’s talked about for many, many years,” Rush said. “But at the end of the day it’s, ‘I don’t have time to go to the market,’ so you go to the local suppliers and find the easier way out.”
Rush said locally grown fruits and vegetables are in abundance in the sunny Okanagan but he’s preparing to face the challenge of sourcing out protein.
Higgins reminded all Vernon area residents the cafeteria is open to everyone and the Facebook page is updated daily with menu offerings.
The cafeteria is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 10-1 p.m. for fresh, farm-to-table lunches.