Take a bite of these appetizers and help a Coquitlam immigrant group
Sales of Soul Bites, a line of vegan appetizers and snacks based on traditional Persian and Serbian recipes, will help Coquitlam’s Immigrant Link Centre Society help others
A group of enterprising newcomers are bringing their heritage to market in the form of tasty snacks based on family recipes.
The frozen food line was developed with the help of a grant from Vancity, which also provided a business coach for the group.
Now, the volunteers with Coquitlam-based Immigrant Link Centre Society hope they can convince grocery stores to sell Soul Bites, with the goal of using proceeds to support their food rescue non-profit.
Soul Bites, a line of frozen appetizers that are vegan and made in Port Coquitlam using traditional Persian and Serbian recipes, recently won silver at Good to Grow, a Vancouver trade show.
“Soul Bites is a social enterprises that will provide 50% to the society for food recovery and will support other groups working to end hunger,” explained Igor Bjelac, who’s originally from Serbia and helped start Immigrant Link with others he met while taking English languages classes in Coquitlam.
Immigrant Link has grown by leaps and bounds since in started at Vanier Centre, a former elementary school. The group collects food from grocery stores and delivers it to non-profits, churches and other groups all over the Lower Mainland.
But growth has come with more costs, prompting the group to brainstorm ideas for generating more revenue.
The result? Soul Bites, which is not only a product but an idea, according to Bjelac, because food is part of everyone’s culture and sharing it brings people together.
“We have a compelling story behind Soul Bites, which makes it easy to talk about.”
The product is also something that may be intriguing for foodies who want to purchase something locally made and vegan that also tastes good.
The phyllo pastry appetizers, called Taste of Persia and Taste of the Balkans, are stuffed with mushrooms and leeks or smoked eggplant and walnut, while a selection of cabbage rolls are made with vegetables, soy and rice.
Chef Alaia Fayad, owner of Grassroots Meal Plans in Port Coquitlam, helped the group develop the appetizers, which combine modern flavours with traditional recipes.
“This is something I’m really excited about,” said Fayad, who said distribution and packaging are still being worked out for the product.
Jams and pickles under the Soul Bites label, developed by Immigrant Link volunteers, are also available at the Port Moody Farmers Market.
For Bjelac, the real test will be when the product is available in local stores.
But he’s optimistic, with the judges at the recent trade show telling him: “I missed this taste from my grandparents.”
Original textTriCity News