More than 25 diplomatic missions provided food for an international buffet at Rockcliffe Park’s Grand Village Fête to mark the 90th anniversary of the village’s creation.
“It was a very special event for the community,” said Liz Heatherington, who co-ordinated the diplomatic portion.
Heads of mission from the German, Thai, Japanese, Indonesian, Turkish, Czech and EU embassies attended, some of them with their children. German Ambassador Werner Wnendt offered greetings and spoke about the community’s history and his wife, Eleonore Wnendt-Juber, made German cheesecakes.
Japanese Ambassador Kenjiro Monji and his wife, Etsuko, brought four staff members, two of whom wore national dress. The staff showed attendees each step in the making of sushi.
The ambassador said participating in the event made perfect sense to him.
“As residents of Rockcliffe Park village for nearly 60 years, successive ambassadors of Japan have always enjoyed the village life,” he said. “It was, therefore, natural and important for me to participate in its 90th anniversary event to express our gratitude to the village for its service and to share with other residents some Japanese cuisine, which was registered as “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO in 2013. I was also delighted to be able to taste proud dishes of many of my colleague ambassadors in the village.”
Turkish Ambassador Selçuk Ünal and his wife, Lerzan Kayihan, brought their daughter and UAE Ambassador Saif Helal M. Alshehhi brought all of his children.
“The children had fun,” Heatherington said of the event that featured readings, a magic show, music and dancing. “It really was a big family event.”
Irene Knopfel Nobs, wife of Swiss Ambassador Beat Nobs, attended with one staff member and Heatherington said she “masterminded” all of the Swiss pastries on offer. The EU ambassador took chocolates and EU coffee mugs and the Belgians brought sweets. The Chilean and New Zealand missions donated wines, which will be served at another event, when the organizers have the appropriate licence. Organizers did, however, buy Chilean and New Zealand wines for the event as a nod to those generous donations. The Thai embassy, meanwhile, had a nice display with much-loved Thai food.
“All of the diplomats were so enthusiastic when asked to participate,” Heatherington said. “The Chinese group — we had asked them for maybe 100 pieces of finger food and I think they tripled or quadrupled that. We had an excellent turnout of food and because it was raining, people stayed in the community room.”
Those who came brought food donations for the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre whose food bank is underfunded.
“The idea was to bring the community together,” said Aly Abdulla, who chaired the event. “Despite the fact that it was pouring rain, we had 400 people and I think the international buffet was a really big draw.” He said the other draw was a love of their neighbourhood.
“Our community has very few fences — it’s generally pretty open — and you don’t need the security they have in other parts of the world. That’s what makes it nice. I think we all appreciate that.”
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