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Mission clients treated to gourmet meal by Verdicchio Ristorante

Special dinner is prepared and served to more than 200 clients of the Elgin Street Mission where the need is growing every week

The need is growing at Sudbury's Elgin Street Mission, which feeds hundreds of hungry people every day. 

But as the need grows, so does the generosity of Sudbury residents.

That was evident Tuesday when Sudbury restaurateur Mark Gregorini of Verdicchio Ristorante presented a gourmet meal at the mission to scores of clients on a cold November night. 

The restaurant team prepared a meal of pasta bolognese, Alberta beef short-ribs with a caesar salad, garnished with local vegetables and a dessert of apple cake.

Some 200 supporters stepped up to sponsor the event at $100 a plate, generating some $20,000 for the mission’s coffers.

Gregorini said the restaurant donated all the food and all the proceeds from the event would go to the mission. 

Sudbury business leader Gerry Lougheed, who is also a member of the mission's community leadership team, said he was not surprised by the generosity of Sudbury's business and corporate community.

"Sudbury is to me, the gold standard of generosity," Lougheed said.  "And when the need is there, Sudburians understand the need. We feed over 200 people a night at the mission every night of the week.”

Lougheed said he has seen it time and again that Sudburians are willing to help those in need.

"Sudbury often comes through and not just with regard to the mission, but I think for any worthy cause that the people of Sudbury understand. They understand that they must invest in that even in hard times. Even with the COVID stuff, even with the inflationary stuff, even with all these bad news bears that are around us, Sudbury comes through and wrestles those bears to the ground."

Mission director Amanda Robichaud was also pleased with the first-ever event involving a local restaurant. She said the goal was to collect $100 per plate sponsorship for 200 hungry souls. Robichaud said that goal was reached. 

"Yes, we've reached that goal, and over and above. So all of Sudbury is incredibly generous," Robichaud said. But despite the generosity, she said the need continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

"We looked at our numbers from 2019 (and) on average, we served 3,000 people, that's 3,000 meals a month,” she said. “(But) when you look at the numbers for 2021, the numbers went up. It's so hard to believe, on average, per month, we served 7,000 meals … so that's how much the need has increased.”

As the team from Verdicchio prepared the salads, the pasta, the beef ribs and dessert, hundreds of mission clients came through the front door, in from the cold. 

The citizens lined up to get hot tea or coffee and as they checked the menu board many were smiling. Lougheed welcomed the group on behalf of the mission and encouraged them to take a seat.

He noted that each table had a tablecloth and was adorned with a floral centerpiece. Aside from the special meal, Lougheed said the treat for the evening was that mission directors and volunteers would be serving the meal and that the usual buffet line up was not required.

Restaurant owner Mark Gregorini said he, too, was pleased with the response from the community that made the dinner a success, praising the team from Verdicchio for their hard work.

Gregorini also responded to the idea that although Tuesday's event was the first of its kind, that does not rule out the possibility that it could become a tradition at the mission.

"Why not? I mean, I don't see why it shouldn't,” Gregorini said. “You know, it's a great challenge for us to get out of the restaurant and do something a little bit different. And it's a great cause, a very worthy cause.”

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for

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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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