Hodge: Shepherd’s Pie cooking duel for Habitat for Humanity

The culinary competition is just one example of the fun funding frivolity planned for March 26 in Peachland.

My money is on ‘Papa’ Thom.

I am referring to the upcoming (March 26) ‘Shepherd’s Pie cook-off’ between Edgewater Inn chef Krissy Chernoff and Peachland town councillor Keith ‘Papa’ Thom, part of the Habitat for Humanity fundraiser in Peachland.

The culinary competition is just one example of the fun funding frivolity planned for the day.

Now, in such a contest, a wise gambling person (there’s an oxymoron) would normally pony up a plethora of coin and place the wager on a veteran chef such as Krissy who is connected to a well-known eating facility.

I have no doubt that she will present an outstanding, delicious, world-class Shepherd’s Pie. However, I have done my research, and not all is as it may first appear.

As I mentioned, Keith Thom is a town councillor, and we all know very well ‘those political councillor type dudes’ are a nefarious lot of tricksters.

Indeed, it turns out Thom has cooked a few pies in his past—in fact, he’s cooked thousands of them.

When it comes down to making a Shepherd’s Pie, suffice to say ‘Papa’ Thom has got it down to a fine culinary art. For five years in a row, he made annual musical tours from Ontario to B.C. and back stopping in at homeless shelters or food banks across the land.

At each town or city he would invite the local councils and/or government folks along with the rest of the community to the local shelter for dinner.

He would then prepare a massive Shepherd’s Pie meal for the masses gathered. Following dinner, he would give a concert, usually culminating in a giant sing-along.

Often the concert would end with Thom giving away a guitar to one of the homeless guests. This final act of kindness was a tradition that began on his first year of touring food banks and homeless shelters.

A friend gave Thom a spare guitar and told him to give it to someone who might use it but did not have the money for a guitar.

A few days later, while performing in another town another guitar was donated to Thom’s cause and the pay-it-forward tradition was spawned.

It seems word spread about the guitar giving aspect of Thom’s popular Shepherd’s Pie tour and over the years he estimates he has given away some 50 guitars and fed more than 3,000 people.

A few years ago, prior to moving to the Okanagan, Thom finally ended his Shepherd’s Pie tours but not his love of performing or his willingness to help with worthy fund raisers involving homelessness and those dealing with addictions.

A gifted singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Thom prefers the folk genre. His powerful yet soothing voice allows him a broad range of song choice be it a classic cover or one of his own wonderful tunes.

Regardless the venue or size of the audience, Thom provides another relished relic of the entertainment industry to his shows—story telling.

He is a minstrel, a bard, a troubadour of sorts. He weaves memories and messages between his tunes.

And thankfully, as will be discovered by many next week, he’s also not forgot how to make a mean meat pie.

March 26 should prove to be a fabulous day of fun highlighted by the delectable cook-off. At the end of the cooking and consuming, everyone should wind up a winner.

Hosted by the popular Edgewater Inn, the day of fun will culminate in the fundraiser dinner and show, which will feature the wonderful music of the talented Marty Edwards and the Revival.

A superb band, the group also features the impressive guitar skills of Gary Smyth, known by many for his smooth licks and mastery of the lead guitar. Smyth also plays with well known bands Cowboy Bob and The Cruzeros.

In addition to the dinner and dance music, the event will see a wine tasting, Loony Toss (featuring Peachland Fire Fighters), and giant Silent Auction, all with the goal of raising money for the Peachland Build project, a Habitat for Humanity plan to build three semi-detached homes to accommodate six families in that community.

Land for the project was donated by the District of Peachland partnering with HFH to provide affordable homes in that community.

Impressive move by both Peachland council and HFH.

Thom will be kept hopping extra fast that evening since when he is not busy cooking dinner he will also act as MC and has agreed to be the opening act for the Marty Edwards Revival.

The whole event kicks off with doors opening at 5 p.m. and dinner starting at 6:30 p.m.  Tickets are available at West Kelowna ReStore or the Edgewater Inn. Seating is limited so don’t delay.

For further information or to learn more about the call Papa Thom at 250-870-8891.