Take Care of Each Other Spotlight – Chef Erica Guidi, of Blend Catering

It’s hard to believe it’s our final week running our Take Care of Each Other initiative, in Hamilton. Over the past 5 weeks, our team has purchased and delivered 500 bags of fresh produce, from Salty Espresso and Dundurn Market, 400 containers of soup, from Burnt Tongue, 300 individual meals, from Blend Catering (Chef Erica Guidi), 150 pizzas, from Royal Pizza, and bread from 193 Bench Kitchen. The intention of this initiative was to get take-home bags of fruits and vegetables, prepared meals, fresh bread, soup, and even flowers (courtesy of Terra Home) to frontline workers at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, and Neighbour to Neighbour food bank. Our team has put everything we can into making this giving initiative as impactful as possible for our local community and we are particularly proud of all of those involved to make it happen – including our local restaurants. Erica Guidi, chef and owner of Blend Catering is one of these people. We purchased 300 prepared meals from Erica, to be distributed to frontline workers and the food bank, and she went above and beyond to get everything ready while raising awareness and expressing gratitude for what we were doing. Throughout the Take Care of Each Other initiative, Erica arrived at her kitchen for 1 am to start preparing and packing hundreds of meals for the community.  Not done until 5 am, Erica would then start her regular workday only 2 hours later – at 7 am. She is a force! Here’s a little more about Erica, her business Blend Catering, and her involvement in helping us give back to the community.


1) What brought you and your business to Hamilton?

I am a born and raised Hamiltonian who still resides in the city.  I wanted to be able to service the community in which I live and be a part of the growth that Hamilton is seeing.


2) Since COVID-19, how has your business pivoted to adapt to our current environment?

Well, this has been a very interesting and unusual time – unlike anything that I’ve encountered in the 4 years that I’ve been operating Blend Catering.  Having my 2020 event calendar essentially canceled, I knew I had to do something! That something became Gourmet Take-Home meals. I created a program, Gourmet Take-Home meals that are heat and serve options for my clients. The menu comes out each Monday, orders are due Wednesday at 8 for curbside pick-up on Friday 11-12 pm, at The Kitchen Collective. You get 6 individual entrees for $90.00 with the option to order al la cart meals or add kids meals and/or some sweet treats. I make some seriously crave worthy Cinnamon Buns and Rosemary Focaccia. I’ve just finished my 8th week with this program (and that sounds insane when I say it out loud!).


3) If you could choose one word to describe the Hamilton community, what would it be?



4) Over the course of the next 5 weeks, you will be producing 300 individually prepared meals for the Take Care of Each Other initiative. What does this demand from you and why is this initiative meaningful to you?

I was so excited to be approached by Orbis and to partner up for the Take Care of Each Other initiative!  I knew that I wanted to give back and support those in need during this time. My best friend’s brother is battling Covid-19 and has been for over a month now, my family are all front line workers in healthcare and retirement living so it hit really close to home. I was exposed to the stress, pain, and suffering of those I care for most really early on. But here’s the thing,  as a solo entrepreneur, I didn’t know HOW I was going to be able to execute. You solved that problem for me!  While it isn’t easy ( I go to the kitchen at 1 am and work until 5 am to get these meals prepared and then start my regular workday at 7 am) it means the world to me to be able to give back.  I am, by no means one of the ‘big guys’ with a staff who can help out or investors to support Blend but that will never stop me from helping those in need. Many are worse off than I am these days and I feel like it’s a responsibility to be a little selfless and help whenever you can.


5) It’s a challenging time for everyone globally, but we are seeing ingenuity from small businesses across the city. What has been your greatest takeaway from this time?

Oh, that’s a tough one. I feel like I’m working 24/7 to keep things going and to sustain a viable business (as I know many restaurants will not reopen after this and I don’t want to be one of those cases) so I’m not sure the greatest takeaway has happened yet!  What I can say is this: if you are determined to survive, you can move mountains.  I will never not hug my loved ones when I greet them or when we depart AND while  Zoom and Facetime are not the same as being face to face in a room with someone, I am so grateful for the technology that allows me to see my nephew play, have wine dates with my girlfriends, and to connect to other entrepreneurs for venting and brainstorming sessions.  That is what is keeping this extroverted, ‘cabin-fever’ ridden, female Chef and business owner sane 😉

I also want to add to the above, just a quick thank you for all that you do at Orbis and to your team. You are a pillar in this community and I hope people take note and do what they can to take care of each other!