1st Herman Prior Activity Centre Celebrity Luncheon a hit

Golden West Program Director Ryan Simpson serving long time Herman Prior Activity Centre member Doreen O’Brien during the new Celebrity Luncheon program at the centre.
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Golden West Program Director Ryan Simpson explains to lunch guests at the Herman Prior Activity Centre about his dish and why he chose it. Simpson was the first host of the new Celebrity Luncheon program at the centre. Community leaders are invited to host the lunch featuring a favourite recipe. SUBMITTED

After 30 years of radio highlights in Portage la Prairie, local Golden West Program Director (CFRY, Country 93.1 FM, Mix 96) Ryan Simpson finally had to take the heat in the kitchen last week as host of the Herman Prior Activity Centre’s (HPAC) first Celebrity Luncheon.

“I don’t know how they would figure me to be a celebrity,” chuckled Simpson, “but I am always up to support a good cause,” he said prior to dishing out the results to a hungry lunch crowd at the HPAC.

The Celebrity Luncheon is one way the HPAC is working to attract more people through its doors, and it’s working. Membership is closing on 500, the highest it has been in years.

“The Celebrity Luncheon is an idea we have to get people interested in having lunch at the centre. We have a lunch program Monday through Friday at the centre which is delicious, nutritious and surprisingly affordable at $8,” says Chris Dumont, HPAC executive director. “We thought having some of Portage’s better-known community members host a lunch and give us a favourite recipe to cook on their behalf would be fun and bring another element to our lunch program”, she said. “The Celebrity Luncheon gives community leaders a great chance to interact with our members, the public who come to lunch and to make the public more aware of our public lunch program. It’s a great way for people to come out and meet other people.”

Simpson offered up a pork chop casserole recipe his babushka made for him as a young boy and still makes.

“I hope you like it. My grandmother used to make this one for me when I was a kid. She still lives in Flin Flon in her own house. She’s 94-years-old and she’s from Germany and Ukraine. She would always make things like cabbage rolls and perogies and things like that that I didn’t like it when I was a kid…I love them now, but as a kid…just give me something normal,” Simpson explained. “It’s something that I still make today. I liked it so much I even remember the dish that she would cook it in.”

His babushka’s pork chop casserole and the casual luncheon program went well.

“We’re hoping to have one a month with the exception of July and August,” Dumont said. “The plan is now to eventually make a recipe book which we will sell to help raise money to use in the centre.

Next up is Johnny Dietrich in October with dates to be scheduled for Chamber President Guy Moffat, Mayor Irvine Ferris, Coun. Preston Meier and MLA Ian Wishart.

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