June 13th, 2024

Umami Shop partnering with STARS for cooking fundraiser


By Troy Bannerman - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on January 21, 2023.

Herald photo by Troy Bannerman Umami Shop owners Patricia Luu and Sven Roeder, along with STARS pilot Jon Gogan, will be hosting the Cooking for the Stars campaign in conjunction with STARS and the STARS Lottery.

Umami Shop has started a Cooking for the Stars campaign in conjunction with STARS and the STARS Lottery.

Jon Gogan, provincial operations director for Alberta and Aircraft Captain with STARS, described the campaign.

“So, today we are at the STARS Lottery Show Home here in Lethbridge, built by Van Arbor Homes. Just a spectacular showcase of construction and talent that this company has. And they have been a long-term partner of STARS. And we partnered with Umami Shop downtown in Lethbridge for a cooking show where the people in the surrounding communities can purchase a pre-packaged meal kit. And then in February we’re going to go live on YouTube and we’re going to take the opportunity to cook along with you. And all the proceeds from those packages from Umami Shop downtown Lethbridge, those proceeds go back to STARS.”

You can purchase the kits ($29.99) at umamishop.ca, where you can get the packages and bring them home to your family with the ability to feed two to three people.

For those who are new to Alberta, or have never heard of STARS, Gogan explains why it is such an important organization to us in Lethbridge.

“STARS Air Ambulance has been around since 1985. And we provide critical care transport to critically ill or injured people right across the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In the back of the helicopter we have a critical care nurse and a critical care paramedic supported by two pilots up front and our engineering team at home. STARS is called in, really for those individuals who are extraordinarily injured. And we are able to bring a flying intensive care unit to the edge of an acreage, to a frozen lake, to the side of the highway. And in the case of Lethbridge hospital, which we visited about 85 times in the last year, bring that urban critical care directly to the fantastic support network of healthcare professionals we have here in Lethbridge, work with them to stabilize the patient then give them rapid critical care transport back to the city. And one of the things we’ve talked a lot about today is we cannot do this alone. We are part of an orchestra that is there for someone who is experiencing, likely, one of the worst days of their lives. And everybody here locally has a role to play. And our team comes in as an assist, and brings that extra critical care to support both Lethbridge and the communities that surround this beautiful city.”

Patricia Luu of the Umami Shop was also present to answer questions about the business and its involvement.

“Umami Shop was opened in 2013…we’re a downtown grocer-aunt, a grocery store and a restaurant. And we’ve been doing cooking classes since we opened in person. And then we moved online. And this was such a great opportunity for us to give back to our community. One of our values is to ‘act local’ and what Jon had mentioned already is being part of the community and giving back to the community. The community that helps us grow. Because we can only grow if we grow our own community. So, it’s such a great opportunity for us to fundraise with the Cook for the Stars and I think the catchphrase there is ‘We’ve got the ingredients to save lives.’ So, 100 per cent proceeds of these cooking kits goes directly to STARS.”

Umami Shop may have opened in 2013, but Luu’s family have been grocers in the community since 1983 when her parents opened the Asian Supermarket.

“I think everybody eats and we have the opportunity to connect with everybody in town. And don’t say that you don’t eat. Everybody eats. So everybody comes in, and they are always looking for that specific ingredient and my parents have always told us, ‘Find a solution. Don’t make problems.’ Like, find a solution. Because we were boat people generation, my parents when they came here they didn’t have the typical Vietnamese ingredients that you would have back home. So, they would source that. And when people heard – so, South Africans, Filipinos, Africans, a variety of all ethnicities – they would come and be, ‘Could you source this in?’ And so the Asian Supermarket has been a great support of the community serving the refugees, the people who have come here for economic reasons, like fleeing war. But they do still eat, right? So, my parents have done that. And then we decided to open Umami Shop with a different aspect. The second generation offering cooking classes, and people who are very interested in other cuisines, too, not just their own.”

This is the first time the Umami Shop has partnered with STARS and Van Arbor Homes.

“We’ve been talking about it with Van Arbor homes,” said Luu. “And we’ve just trying to get something started. But because the STARS Lottery Home was not open for the past two years, and we know why. So, this year was the prime opportunity for us. And then the home is open, now we can cook in the home and showcase.”

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