Celebrity chef opens up about her career and impact of dementia at Breakfast to Remember
From student of the Cordon Bleu cooking school to founder and CEO of The Gourmet Warehouse, chef Caren McSherry had the support of another strong, independent woman: her mother, Clara.
Clara was a single mother; caring, generous with her time and instrumental to Caren’s business successes, of which there have been many. In 1978, she launched Caren’s Cooking School, now one of Canada’s longest-running privately-owned schools, and later went on to found The Gourmet Warehouse, the first store of its kind in Canada to offer gourmet specialty foods, kitchenware and supplies. Caren also hosts Cooking 101 on Global BC’s Global News Morning on Sundays and appears as a weekly guest on CKNW’s Foodie Friday with Simi Sara. Clara’s influence undoubtedly shaped the course of Caren’s career. But as Caren’s list of accomplishments grew, Clara began her journey with dementia and their relationship took on a new dynamic.
“It all changes when your best friend isn’t there anymore,” Caren says. “They’re there, but they’re not.”
When Caren reflects on the time she spent growing her businesses while she also cared for Clara, who eventually lived in long-term care in North Vancouver, she does so with more compassion – for both herself and her mother – than she had when they were experiencing it, especially during the earlier stages of the disease.
“It hurts you: the misunderstanding, the frustration, then the awareness that you didn’t have the understanding and compassion in the first place.”
Armed now with more knowledge of dementia than she had, and always guided by her first-hand experiences of the challenges of the disease, Caren has been inspired to support the Alzheimer Society of B.C. She donated partial proceeds from her last cookbook, and she will be a speaker at the Breakfast to Remember fundraiser, coming up on March 7 at the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver. Caren will share insights into her incredible career and the woman who helped shape it.
“In the end I was heartbroken because I didn’t have more patience with my mother,” she says. “I look back at the trials and tribulations now and laugh my head off. I learned too late to just roll with it, just go with it. Be there, support and don’t be frustrated.”
Business and community leaders are invited to help provide support and change the future for other families affected by dementia at Breakfast to Remember. The event is an opportunity to have breakfast, network and hear talks from Caren McSherry and Dr. Roger Wong, a world-leader in the field of geriatrics, who will speak about emerging dementia research.
To learn more about Breakfast to Remember, or to buy tickets, visit www.breakfasttoremember.ca.