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Taking a break and tackling a new approach to food

Arvi Gosmo is back with online cooking classes and a new catering business

Arvi Gosmo grew up firmly rooted in food as a child, thanks to her mother.

Being raised in a Filipino culture meant she was regularly surrounded by large family gatherings and parties, each demanding extensive food preparation. Her mum was also in the habit of having dishes at the ready for when visitors dropped by, which kept Arvi busy as her helper. Hers was a rich childhood of skill building; filled with love, flavour and whole lot of fun.

Back then, she wasn’t aware of the extent to which these teachings would impact her adult years.

Arvi owned and operated the popular Magnolia Cafe in Guelph for four years before she launched her current business, Magnolia Fine Foods & Catering. Those years in the cafe had her juggling all the demands restaurateurs know too well. Her “cafe stress was real” and all those long hours on her feet had taken a toll on her body. This, combined with a frantically busy year in 2019, made her experience a physical hangover from the sheer stress of the workload.

So when 2020 and the pandemic hit, she took this as a sign to stay a little more still and rest her body.

Thankfully for us all, this hiatus didn’t last long. Her passion for feeding people drove her to get back to it, and by December she was restored and raring to go.

Despite her in-person catering and cooking classes being out of commission, she had been able to acquire a smattering of small, safe contracts and weddings in between COVID openings. This wasn’t quite enough to sustain her business though, and she was forced to think of another angle. A friend encouraged her to pursue teaching cooking classes online.

At first she didn’t feel comfortable in front of the camera but thought, “I should just do it. If I get enough people that’s great, if not, that’s ok too — it’s all about acceptance at this time."

The realization she really “knows her stuff,” combined with many years of teaching experience, gave her the boost of confidence she needed, so she went ahead with planning menus and acquiring all the technical equipment. Happily, the classes are filling up nicely.

Arvi is now sharing her menus online in a new series format with the hope that they’ll create a sense of continuity and a connection for her students.

Drawing inspiration from the many culinary worlds that she’s travelled, the weekly classes in April are all about pastes: Thai red curry paste in coconut and tempeh curry; tapenade (black olive paste) in roasted spaghetti squash with vegetables, fresh herbs and cheese; harissa (Tunisian hot chili paste) in Spanish paella, and tahini (sesame seed paste) in out-of-this-world double chocolate decadent brownies.

Although week one will have already happened by the time this is published, she’s encouraging people to reach out to her via her website, if they wish to join now. Those interested should also visit the website to sign up to her newsletter for upcoming news, events and recipes.

Last month Arvi hosted a mini cooking show in a precursor to the Guelph and District Multicultural Festival, and will be making another appearance at the festival itself in June. This summer she’ll be employed as a private chef for a large family — leaning into something new and exciting yet again.

Arvi Gosmo’s love of food and passion for community is obvious. She’s committed to sustainable food practices and specializes in sourcing local, seasonal, fresh and organic produce for her delicious offerings where she can. She’s a woman who’s travelled far since her childhood as kitchenhelper but one who remains true to her roots through Magnolia Fine Foods & Catering.