Culinary graduate Sharon Steward writes cookbook for community cooking
By Harris Gale
Sharon Steward has been cooking her whole life. Steward grew up on a grain farm in Oak Bluff, where growing and harvesting wheat was an everyday activity. She has worked in a number of high profile restaurants in Winnipeg and Calgary, and graduated from the Red River College culinary arts program in 2002.
Steward currently serves as head chef at InterVersity Pioneer Camp Manitoba, and has just released a cookbook titled Volume: Cooking for a Community.
Steward has achieved all of this while living with several food allergies.
“I can’t have gluten, and I have a dairy protein sensitivity,” Steward said. “I grew up thinking it was normal to have a stomach ache all the time.”
Even though there are certain foods Steward can’t eat, it hasn’t stopped her from plugging away in the kitchen to create hearty, healthy meals for up to 200 children at the camp.
“To me, it’s been a very positive thing, that I can help a lot of people feel more comfortable. Yes, an allergy is tough, but it doesn’t mean you can’t live,” said Steward.
Every recipe in Steward’s cookbook has notes for whether it is dairy-free and how to make a dairy-free version. The same applies to gluten for all the baking items.
“I don’t have a sticker on the front cover that says 25 ‘Gluten-Free Recipes’, because to me it’s just natural, you’re taking care of people’s needs,” Steward said. “If you’re serving a lot of people, you’re going to have to deal with it and embrace it. And serve them well.”
Steward’s cookbook was inspired largely by her own need to ingrain in her family and her community the sense of working together and taking the time to sit and enjoy the food they eat.
Pauline Boldt was the creative director of the project and helped Steward craft the book from the ground up and took all the photos featured in it.
“The inherent energy of the camp and its purpose, coupled with Sharon’s passion for food made photographing for this book extremely powerful,” Boldt said. “This is a special project that is both a useful tool and a repository of camp food memories from the past 75 years.”
The book is now on sale for $35 at www.volumecookbook.com. On Saturday, Dec. 2, Steward and Boldt held a book launch at McNally Robinson at Grant Park Mall to promote its release.