This is so exciting, another inspiring story that needs to be shared.
Hi! My name is Steven Ken Dalida, my wife Kelsey and I are the owners of Ken’s Catering. We are located in Fort Saskatchewan and have two locations. We started catering in 2017, with nothing to start with other than passion, determination and each other.
A little back story for you, I first came to Canada in 2009 as a temporary foreign worker. I had a work permit for Tim Hortons, however did not receive my in time that when the foreign worker program cancelled I was unable to receive permanent residency. On October 13th, 2014, I was sent back home to the Philippines when our first daughter was only 4 months old. With no work in the Philippines, I landed a work permit overseas again in the Grand Cayman Islands while awaiting permanent residency back in Canada. There, I worked for a company called Mise En Place. They are a group of companies that included, catering, coffee shops and pizzerias. I primarily managed Gino’s Pizza but on weekends had the privilege to help out with banquet catering.
Being away from my family and not knowing when I would see them again was difficult, I was very depressed. I may not have known it at the time, but this was all a blessing in disguise for my future. I had the great privilege of working alongside some of the best chefs in the Caribbean including Anthony Bordaine.
I was inspired by the catering empire that my employer Sean Collins had created and I took in every moment of that. On October 17th, 2016 our prayers were finally answered and after two years apart, I was reunited back with my family in Canada as a permanent resident. I had lost two years, and did not want to waste any more time, so I set out a dream of creating a catering company. With the inspiration of all my mentors in Cayman Islands, I put it into action. We had no money; we started with $500 in our bank account and worked two full time jobs in between catering. We took all contracts we could get, from small groups to large. We had no work space, only rented commercial kitchens when we had events to cater.
We had only two goals in mind, to always give back to the community wherever and whenever possible and create more employment for people in our community. By January of 2019 we opened our first location, Mess Hall inside the Fort Saskatchewan Legion. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays we launched our buffet nights that would run from 4:30-8:30. In no time at all, Tuesdays began to be our busiest night of the week with our special senior’s discount of only $15! We launched our first “pay it forward” program in Mess Hall where community members could make a $20 donation and that donation would go towards a free buffet meal for a community member in need. Our wall began to fill up with numerous donations! We displayed a board for all to see, and let the community know that this program would be ongoing and readily available to those who would need a good meal.
In January of 2020, we opened our second location, The Venue by Ken’s Catering. The menu was created and inspired by those chefs that I worked with in Cayman Islands. Our goal is to make Fort Saskatchewan a culinary destination. World plates, local passion, I had 3 chefs from Cayman Islands present me a dish that we could offer in our restaurant and I created a menu around those dishes. We want our guests to eat with their eyes first, not just stop in for a great meal but enjoy the entire experience that goes behind that. As always, giving back to our community is number one.
With the pandemic Covid-19 and the global crisis this has created, we are struggling as a local business. It is not easy as a small local business starting up, let alone during an economic crash such as what we are currently experiencing. We have invested everything back into building the business, we do not have the cash flow or the loans to be able to upkeep with labour and operating costs but regardless of everything we want to help. We are not the only ones suffering, there are many without jobs now, grocery stores are bare, how will families be able to put food on the table for their family? We decided we needed to do something.
Though we may not have the means to feed the whole community, we will try! We put the idea out for a “Feed the Fort” campaign. We asked the community for donations, of any amount to help provide free meals to those in need. This has been launched for only two days and already we have received $755 of donations.
We have 6 families already signed up to receive meals for their families this coming Thursday. The program will work as such, community members that can afford to do so can email a donation to firstname.lastname@example.org
We don’t have criteria to receive meals from us because we believe everyone is really struggling right now, and could use help. We aren’t asking for proof, just good humanity. We believe those that can will donate and those that need help will come forward. Those families that are in need, struggling due to the pandemic, out of work etc. can reach us by phone, email or Facebook by Wednesday at noon each week. We will ask those families how many people are in their house hold and which meal option they would like. Each week families will pick up meals by 10 am on Thursday or we will deliver to those that are unable to go out. This will be an ongoing process until life goes back to normal. We want to continue to help, where we can. This is a team effort and we are incredibly thankful for the support our community has shown us thus far.
Kelsey and Ken
(780) 691-3262 – Kelsey
(780) 691-3280 – Ken