Canadian chef invites whole Northwest Territories capital to Christmas feast

Chef Robin Wasicuna said he’s ‘had some terrible Christmases over the years,’ and didn’t want anyone to feel lonely this time around. (Oliver Williams/CBC)
Yellowknife chef Robin Wasicuna doesn’t like the idea of people eating alone at Christmas.

So with a crew of volunteers and fellow Yellowknife chefs, the former restaurateur is hosting a Christmas dinner for the whole city.

“We’ve got turkey, stuffing, potatoes, veggies, all the stuff,” said Wasicuna. “We’ve got homemade bread and homemade rolls, [and] we’ll have homemade pies.”

It’s not the first time Wasicuna has put out a spread for strangers on Christmas Day. As the chef behind Yellowknife’s Twin Pine Diner, he opened the doors for a free Christmas feast last year.

I’ve had some terrible Christmases over the years, and I just don’t want people to go through that themselves.Robin Wasicuna

“A lot of people were really, really thrilled, and we saw a lot of different people,” he said. “One lady was new to town and didn’t know anybody and couldn’t make it home for Christmas to her family, so she just didn’t want to be alone.”

“People were just really, really happy that there was a place for them to go get some dinner.”

Turkey, stuffing, handmade rolls, and homemade pies are all on the menu at this Christmas feast on Dec. 25 at Northern United Place in Yellowknife. (iStock/Getty Images)

Wasicuna’s restaurant is no more, but that didn’t stop him from partnering with other chefs and local organizations to find a venue for the dinner this year.

Local chefs offered their services and volunteers stepped up to help, within a few hours of Wasicuna putting out the call.

“I put the call out to my brothers-in-arms, and they stepped up to the plate,” he said.

A file photo of Wasicuna cooking at his former restaurant. ‘I put the call out to my brothers-in-arms, and they stepped up to the plate,’ says Wasicuna. (Oliver Williams/CBC)

Wasicuna said he’s planning to partner with the Yellowknife Women’s Society for the second year in a row to use their street outreach van to deliver people to the venue.

“There will be people there to just sit down and talk and hang out with you,” he said. “This isn’t going to be a buffet. You’re going to get served a meal.”

“We don’t want this to feel like it’s charity,” he said. “This is just about people coming together at the holidays.”

Wasicuna said he wanted to put on the feast to help alleviate holiday stress and give people who might feel lonely some company over dinner.

“I’ve had some terrible Christmases over the years, and I just don’t want people to go through that themselves,” he said.

The dinner service runs on Dec. 25 at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Northern United Place.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuk chef sharing Arctic food at Ottawa culinary event, CBC News

China: Arctic Indigenous food culture takes the day at international cookbook awards, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: How Santa became Finnish, Yle News

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