Chef Uses Food to Build Communities

His own experiences with homelessness prompted this Vancouver-based chef to launch a program to bring communities together with food.

Not your average chef

Mark Brand uses food to build community and launch tough conversations and unite communities. The Vancouver-based chef and social impact entrepreneur has businesses dedicated to feeding the hungry welcoming the lonely. His personal experience with hunger and homelessness is what led him on a path toward tangible solutions. Nearly half of his staff is made up of those who face employment barriers.

“I opened my first restaurant in '06, '07, and opened in a neighborhood that was facing a lot of challenges, a lot of marginalized folks around, drug addiction, mental illness. And really felt the pang that we had to do something more. So, we know that there's a growing gap in equality, but I think there's also a growing hunger for things we don't need, right? So, what we need is community. What we need is shelter. What we need is food, and what we need is love. So most of the people who are here have attended a dinner at some other point, and then been, like, "Hey, I would like to be able to be part of this community in a way." So, if we can show them how easy this is, because people think advocacy work is really challenging, and it is, but just show up,” Mark Brand tells Brut.

Mark Brand is not your average chef. He is also a restaurateur, a recovered addict, he has experienced homelessness, and he is a highly successful social entrepreneur. Mark is determined to change the world and eradicate food insecurity, one person at the time. “I want to be that person that’s there for somebody else when this comes to that place, and I want to build an entire structure that’s ready to help people,” he explains. Mark’s commitment to making a difference and helping others is inspiring to just about everyone who crosses his path.