How people are changing the world through Social Gastronomy

By Shelley Boettcher

Illustrations by Camie Leard

Social gastronomy is about making a positive impact in the world through food. Maybe it means donating a bag of groceries to a food bank. Maybe it means a splashy black-tie dinner, with ticket sales going to a favourite charity.

There are as many ways to define — and practise — social gastronomy as there are people interested in it, says Nicola Gryczka, the Brazil-based co-founder of the global Social Gastronomy Movement.

“Social gastronomy, to us, has an extremely broad and inclusive definition: Using the power of food to generate social change, along all parts of the food production chain — from sowing and harvesting crops, to preparing and cooking meals, to utilizing food waste,” she says.

“Everyone can participate, no matter what your background, level of expertise, culture, language or geographic region.”

What matters most is that you’re helping to make the world a better place. “The Social Gastronomy Movement sees food as a means to achieving real social change,” she says.

“We are all making a difference.”

Here are 10 cool contributors to the local social gastronomy scene.

Mealshare lets restaurants put the Mealshare logo next to items on their menus. Every time someone orders those dishes, the restaurant gives a dollar toward Mealshare to help supply a meal to a youth in need. Participating Calgary restaurants include River Cafe, Native Tongues Taqueria, Ten Foot Henry, Cucina and Una Pizza. Learn more at

Every year, the team at Willow Park Wines & Spirits raises money for local non-profits — millions of dollars since the store opened more than 25 years ago. In 2001, the team established The Vintage Fund, now the store’s official community investment program. Different charities benefit from the store’s event ticket sales and auctions; recently, the store contributed $35,000 to Wellspring Calgary, which helps people with cancer, their caregivers and families. Learn more at

Sunny Cider and other local businesses have recently teamed up to release Courage, a cherry-vanilla cider. Proceeds go toward The Alex’s programs for vulnerable Calgarians. Learn more at

In May 2020, Chef Roy Oh (Anju) and his team at Roy’s Korean Kitchen collected cash donations from customers, and then bought gift cards for independent local restaurants, including Bar Von Der Fels and Foreign Concept. Then they sold raffle tickets through their website for an opportunity to win the cards, plus one for their own eatery. All proceeds went to the Calgary Food Bank.

social gastronomy roy

Calgarian Sharon Hapton started Soup Sisters in 2009, believing soup could make a difference to homeless youth and people escaping domestic violence. Now, a national group of volunteers makes and delivers homemade soup — more than two million servings since starting — to more than 40 residential shelters. Learn more at

social gastronomy sharon

Every year, some of the city’s top chefs participate in the Calgary edition of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party, a national series of events that seeks to build and celebrate excellence in Canadian food, sport and music. Each winning regional chef goes on to compete at the Canadian Culinary Championships in Ottawa. All proceeds go toward MusiCounts, Community Food Centres of Canada, and B2ten, which supports future and current Canadian Olympic athletes.

This spring, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, organizers moved the celebration online. Supporters were encouraged to order takeout from independent local restaurants and then watch virtual concerts by Canadian musicians. Learn more at

social gastronomy olivier paul

When the COVID-19 lockdown started in Alberta, food writer Julie Van Rosendaal realized thousands of kids in Calgary would be going hungry without access to school breakfast and lunch programs. She teamed up with Rouge’s Olivier Reynaud and Paul Rogalski to feed them. Rogalski and Reynaud shared their restaurant kitchen and resources, and scores of others, including Westjet, Gravity Café and the Bownesian Grocer got involved, too. The result? Fewer hungry kids during the pandemic.

social gastronomy julie

Each year, Andrew Ferguson, owner of Kensington Wine Market, his friends, co-workers and fellow whisky lovers organize the MS Whisky Festival. The event features master classes from world-famous distillers, as well as tastings of 300 or so whiskies. Proceeds go toward the MS Society of Canada, Calgary and area chapter.

social gastronomy andrew

Lourdes Juan started the Leftovers Foundation in 2012 as a way to keep edible food from restaurants out of landfills and to people who need it. Now the non-profit organization has volunteers in Calgary and Edmonton and, in 2019, they helped 47 charities and redistributed more than 300,000 pounds of food from eateries including Sidewalk Citizen. Learn more at

social gastronomy lourdes

You. Me. And our family and friends, old and new (as long as we practice safe physical distancing, of course.) “I love to gather people around a table and have a meal with them. This is one way we can all relate to one another, share valuable and meaningful personal experiences, and find common ground,” says Gryczka.

“Food is universal. It allows us to have difficult conversations about challenging topics — from politics to religion to relationships — and look for solutions together.” – Nicola Gryczka

To learn more about the global social gastronomy scene, email or go to