The holiday season is upon us, some call it the most wonderful time of the year! From across the county, to the next city, state, or even country, the holidays bring us close together to celebrate what we are truly thankful for, those that are close to us.

These special moments in time are even more memorable when celebrated around great food. The extent and effort to create the most flavorful of dishes is sure to appease those around the table. From tasty appetizers to the main course, each item carefully chosen by the host to leave a lasting impression. Why go to so much effort? It’s for family and friends and we want them to enjoy their time with each other, it’s part of how we Live Deliciously™. Sometimes rich in tradition, these special moments are what we look forward to as we celebrate the holidays and give thanks in rounding out the year gone by.

In the case of the Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast’s first “Combersation” event this past November, it was about uniting & igniting a small rural community in Southwestern Ontario to begin a tradition of lighting the local holiday tree. Surrounded by neighbors, good friends, and great food, hundreds of people enjoyed the spirit of the upcoming holiday season on a brisk evening full of stars to celebrate community. From local shop owners to retired community leaders and everyone in between, even kids from Centennial Central School were on hand to take part in this inaugural event.

The creator of this fantastic evening? Benjamin Leblanc-Beaudoin, Innkeeper & Chef of the Iron Kettle.

Iron Kettle Combersation Chef Ben and Crew

Chef Benjamin Leblanc-Beaudoin with his wife Ginette and friends enjoying their first ever Combersation holiday event.

Chef Benjamin came to me in the fall with an idea to create the first annual community “Combersation”; an event, a gathering, a really BIG gathering in a small town that would pull the local community together at the start of a very busy and entertaining holiday season. Warm food and entertainment all culminating with the lighting of a 50’ tall pine tree on the front lawn of the Iron Kettle. Illuminated with hundreds of vintage Edison lights, all which were very representative of the old-world charm that the Iron Kettle B&B stands for. Without batting an eye or even letting Ben finish his sentence, Pure Flavor® was pleased to answer the call. It was more than just contributing fresh, greenhouse grown vegetables to a fantastic Winter Chili Recipe (try it for yourself here!). It was a grassroots opportunity to connect with the local community where people were living A Life of Pure Flavor™.

Iron Kettle Combersation Chili

Chili in the final stages of preparation before the first ever Combersation holiday event.

“Comber is our home, and we feel connected to its roots and history. There is a large storied past to this small town, we are just trying to add our page to the book!” said Benjamin LeBlanc-Beaudoin, Innkeeper & Chef, Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast.

As a good chef would say, “it’s all in the ingredients to create a great recipe”.

Mission accepted.

Where we added our little touch to the event was in the ingredients that went in to Chef Ben’s Winter Chili Recipe. With potentially hundreds of people attending the event, Ben had to create the ‘party size’ version of Chili to feed the masses! Knowing that an abundance of fresh, local greenhouse grown vegetables are grown just steps from his kitchen, Ben asked us if we could provide the hearty ingredients needed for his famous Winter Chili. A dish that isn’t your ordinary, everyday chili; this creation is unique (with incredible flavor profiles) thanks in-part to two cinnamon sticks and a handful of other exotic ingredients (#ChefSecret).

The bulk of the bowl stemmed from our hearty Pure Flavor® Red Beefsteak Tomatoes and sweet Azuca Red Cherry tomatoes. Finished off with a crunchy twist thanks to our multi-colored Sweet Bell Peppers, the Winter Chili was a huge success!!! People were lining up for the last few bowls as the evening ended. And if it wasn’t the Winter Chili that was keeping the community cozy, it was probably the Pure Flavor® fleece blankets laid out amongst the camp fires.

Iron Kettle Combersation People Gathering Outside

Community members gathering around the Iron Kettle B&B for the first ever Combersation holiday event.

All in all, it was the perfect start to the holiday season in a community that isn’t always used to being the center of attention. Kathy Lally, a local Comber resident, spoke about the experience: “We thoroughly enjoyed last night’s Christmas Combersation! It was so wholesome, heartwarming and community spirited. So many great ideas and activities and the lighting of the tree held so much excitement for young and old alike. We are so grateful for all your significant contributions to our community. Thank you also to the sponsors and volunteers!”

As a family owned business with deep roots in the community, Pure Flavor® is fortunate to take part in unique events like this. A genuine evening where a small community could slow down, enjoy precious moments, and unite with neighbors during a fantastic gathering.

Iron Kettle Combersation Mom and Son Making Smores

Mom helps her son make s’mores at the first ever Combersation holiday event.

I was excited to see so much joy as people captured photos to share online, however, the overall sense of a technology infused environment was put on hold. On a night when the flash of vintage Edison lights was all we needed to illuminate the smiling faces of both young and old alike, I found comfort in realizing life is really about the little things. As a lifestyle focused brand, we are striving to “Live Deliciously™” and engage our customers in a unique way. Within a winter evening full of food, family, and fun memories, I think we all achieved this.

Until next year Comber, happy holidays!

– Jeff