A Haliburton County chef is using food to build community and fundraise for social change.

Miriam Echeverria, executive chef at Dimensions Retreat Centre in Algonquin Highlands, kicked off Cheffing4good with a pizza fundraiser in Haliburton recently.

The charity makes and sells high-quality food, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going to organizations focused on women or marginalized groups.

“I think food is also a tool for progress,” Echeverria said. “I think it’s a tool that can change perspectives.”

At the event at Tiffany Howe’s How(e) Creative Studio, Cheffing4good raised more than $500 for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. Every pizza made was sold, each in a box decorated by Echeverria’s coworkers.

She said the charity is a way for her and others in the culinary world to do more than just recognize problems such as the treatment of indigenous communities in Canada.

“There is a lot of awareness and we see regret for what happened in the past, but there’s very little action… But for me, it’s more than about taking action.”

As a professional chef, food seemed to be the perfect way to do so.

Echeverria previously ran the charity under the name Tribe Five Dinners in Toronto, partnering with other women working in Toronto’s culinary world. They hosted dinners showcasing diverse vegetarian and vegan flavour combinations and promoting equitable kitchens.

The main goal of the events was to support communities but also showcase the fact that these kitchens in Toronto are run by women and create a different perspective in our guests when it comes to plant-based food,” she said.

After she moved to Haliburton County, Echeverria and longtime County resident Melissa Tong began brainstorming what the charity could look like in the Highlands.

“A very special thanks to Tiffany Howe Creative on 35 Pine St. for the fun and creative space,” wrote Tong in a media release after the event. “[And] Keegan Kyle for his hard work and dedication from start to finish. And most of all, we would like to thank all of our pizza lovers, donators, and supporters for your hungry bellies and for coming out, even if it was to chat and check it out.”

Echeverria and Tong said they hope Cheffing4good can draw even more community support as it grows.

“I hope that one day it becomes something even bigger and we are able to support different charities but I think what we’re looking forward most of the time is for those charities or non-profit organizations that have very little support,” Echeverria said.

She added the food could continue to change too. Echeverria is originally from Mexico and said she’d love to bring those flavours to future events.

She also put out a call for Highlanders’ help.

“I think it would be nice if there are more folks out there that are willing to offer the space to create another event or even if more people just want to help,” she said.

Find out more about Cheffing4good on Instagram @cheffing4good.