(Photo: Contributed)
(Photo: Contributed)

Pay it forward

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This past Thursday was International Pay It Forward Day. Do you remember the book and movie from a few years back, about the young boy who came up with the plan that people could accomplish amazing things if they helped people “just because” with the only caveat being that the person they helped also “paid it forward” and helped someone else out? You know, the old fashioned Golden Rule, only put into action. It’s a great idea, don’t you think? Something we could put to use every day if we set our minds to it.

One way that the Pay It Forward concept works easily is with food. You can improve someone’s day with food in many ways, and sharing food comes naturally to us. I think that it’s even more meaningful if you share something that you are involved in, so I am going to help you along with a few ideas…

Let’s make it easy to start, gently warming you up to the idea. How about the next time you’re at Timmy’s, or Starbuck’s, or whatever your favourite haunt is, that you buy someone’s coffee, or donut, or whatever. If you didn’t go with a friend, try buying one for the person behind you in line, or for the regular staff member who serves you. You will be surprised how good it makes you feel, to see the surprised smile cross their face.

That was mostly painless, right? Most of us can spare a buck or two. (If you are more focused on charity, you can put your efforts into the Food Bank box at your local grocery store…) Now let’s try something with a bit more oomph: bring in a plate of cookies or Rice Krispie squares to your office. Let people know that you are sharing “just because” – you can even make up a silly reason, like celebrating “High Five Day” (we did that last week at our office and had tons of fun). Hopefully then the idea is that others will follow suit and you can have a “treat day” or a ‘recipe swap” every month, or even every week. Again, this idea can be focused on a charity if you want: you could decide to donate a meal to the Food Bank once a month, or donate something out of your grocery cart. Martin donates a package of pasta and a jar of sauce with every dinner he cooks; it costs less than five dollars and feeds a family of four. It is a real feel-good thing, and generally people want that feeling to continue so they will be a part of keeping it going.

Alright, now we “kick it up a notch”, as Chef Martin likes to say. How about you pay it forward with your kids? If you don’t have kids, borrow someone else’s. No, I’m serious; get nieces or nephews, neighbour’s kids or friends’ kids to come over and teach them how to cook something. You know the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Engaging people at any age in the fun of cooking is a valuable experience and one that no one will regret spending time doing.

I am including a recipe for a tart I did this past week with family. My brother came out for Easter, and “paid it forward” by taking the time off to see us and even help out with the yard work when he needs to be busy with his own work. I tried to “pay it more forward” with some good food and the promise of more for the next time we see him, hopefully soon. We used the first of the rhubarb out of the garden for a filling this time, but it would work with any fruit that is not too juicy. It’s fun to impress anyone with, and it’s easy to make.

Here’s hoping you can share smiles with lots of people, whatever way you choose to pay it forward.


Spring Fruit Galette (makes a tart big enough for 6 people)


  • 450 g/7/8 cup all purpose pastry (you can use whole wheat if you want to be healthy – it creates a more nutty flavour to the pastry)
  • 30 g/1 tbsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 200 g butter
  • 60 mL/ 2 tbsp lukewarm water


  • 1-1/4 lb fruit, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
  • 7 g/¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Optional: 4 pieces of candied ginger, chopped fine

Wash and chop the fruit into bite-size pieces. Toss it in a bowl with the sugar and let sit for ½ hour- 1 hour.

Mix the dry ingredients together for the pastry. Cut in the butter using a food processor or pastry blender or a fork. Work until you have the consistency of coarse oatmeal. Add water gradually and stir gently, till dough clumps up and holds together. Gather all crumbs together and create a ball. (Dough can be chilled for ½ hour, or kept refrigerated for up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 180C/375F.

Roll out the dough to a large circle (40-45 cm/16-18 in.diameter).

Add the lemon peel and cinnamon to the fruit filling and stir to blend.

Place dough on baking tray (*using a silicone mat is a good idea here, so it doesn’t stick if the filling juices leak).

Pour filling into centre of circle and gently fold outside edges in, leaving a peek-a-boo centre of filling and folding over the dough so it holds together.

Bake on the bottom rack (so the bottom isn’t soggy) in preheated oven for approximately 1 hour. Filling should bubble and pastry should be golden.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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