Linda Henderson (left)

Lacombe women decide to ‘retire’ after cooking up arts endowment

A handful of Lacombe women are hanging up their aprons after 10 years of helping to support local artists.

A handful of Lacombe women are hanging up their aprons after 10 years of helping to support local artists.

The group of chefs, who called themselves the Palette Pleasers, hosted the Arts Gala for the last time on Saturday night.

City of Lacombe community services director Brenda Vaughan and the rest of the community thanked the women — now consisting of Denise Orr, Jan Holoboff, Jody Rawlyck and Linda Henderson — for all their hard work during the event held in conjunction with the city.

The Palette Pleasers launched the successful Lacombe Arts Endowment Fund that pays for an annual $1,200 scholarship each year to support the artistic development of Lacombe area individual artists so they can do specific training or development.

Orr said it was time to pursue other activities for the women, some of whom are grandmothers.

“We’ve done what we set out to do…now it’s time for somebody else to figure out where the endowment fund will go in the future.”

The Palette Pleasers was born out of a desire to use food to raise money for the arts.

Then-artist Wayne Spink, who initiated the Lacombe Art Show and Sale, was the catalyst.

Orr said the journeyman chef mentored the group of female caterers, including Orr, for a while.

In their first year, the Palette Pleasers hosted the cafe at the spring art show, raising two $250 awards to student artists.

“From there, it grew with a vision to have an endowment fund and now we have more than $125,000 in it,” said Orr.

Set up in 2005, the endowment fund is a pool of money that is permanently invested, with only the interest ever being spent.

A City of Lacombe-appointed advisory committee works with the community to raise funds and take recommendations for dispersing the dollars.

Every year, the fund accepts applications until the end of March.

The funds are managed through the Red Deer and District Community Foundation.

Orr said she’s no artist herself but she does love to cook.

“We’ve all become better cooks under Wayne’s tutelage,” said Orr.

“We all have an interest in food and we all have an interest in the arts. Some of the ladies are great decorators so our food looks like art.”

One of the favourite things she’s made during this 10-year stint has been the chipolte brownies.

“They were so chocolately and so hot from the chipoltes,” said Orr, referring to the smoke-dried jalepenos.

A couple of years ago, the women created a cookbook.

“We made our money so we’re happy with that,” Orr said, chuckling.

Palette Pleasers catered two main events annually — the cafe at the spring art show and sale, and the Arts Gala.

The women would make lunch for the spring show while appetizers, desserts and liquor were served at the gala.

For a few years, they catered the Dr. Murray Martin lecture series in October where up to 300 people dined on appetizers and desserts.

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