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People and programs 03/15/2024

It was “an aha moment.” That’s how entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Hwang recalls the time he toured a Community Food Centre (CFC) in 2010. “I realized, ‘OK, I get what you are doing here. That makes a ton of sense.’” 

Peter is passionate about food. He loves talking about it, whether with friends or people he’s just met. He loves hearing about “the one amazing recipe” that a person knows and “their passion about where that recipe came from.” (His own amazing recipe is steak. And he’s passionate about the science involved in making a really good steak.)

But it wasn’t just the food he saw at the CFC that inspired him to become a donor. During that tour, Peter realized that CFCC’s work in empowering communities is akin to his own support of aspiring entrepreneurs. “We have a very similar thesis: You give individuals ‘the tools to fish.’”

The spirit of self-sufficiency and skill-building he saw that day also shines through in Tre’dish, Peter’s current, self-described "passion project." 

Tre’dish is a software platform that supports home chefs and other aspiring food entrepreneurs to run and scale their own businesses.  As Peter puts it, technology has made it easier for people to start and promote a food business. “You have social media where someone on Instagram or Facebook Marketplace can say, ‘Hey, DM me. Take a look at these empanadas that I have that are amazing.’” 

In another similarity to CFCC’s work, Tre’dish aims to address systemic issues around food and food systems. “I know there's systemic problems in food and hospitality,” Peter says. “I know because I've lived it.”

Peter’s parents were immigrants from Korea who became food entrepreneurs. When he was seven, they started a Baskin-Robbins franchise. 

Peter describes his parents’ experience as “the same story that every single small restaurateur has.” For 25 years, his parents worked at their restaurant from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. “The whole family eventually worked there.” 

Tackling the kind of systemic issues his parents faced is a big undertaking, Peter acknowledges. “Tre’dish was an audacious build because I know food. Fixing food and hospitality problems is a massive endeavour.” 

This didn’t stop Peter from leading a team of experts to get Tre’dish started. In three years, they built the foundations of the business and began running Tre’dish in Toronto. The Tre’dish model is now on the verge of expanding further afield. 

But as passionate as Peter is about addressing systemic issues, he’s ultimately inspired by something else.

To start a food business, you not only need skills. You need relationships and community. This speaks to the essential quality that connects Peter to CFCC and our cause. 

It’s also what stood out to him when he toured that CFC in 2010: “You’re creating community…. Tre’dish is very similar to CFCC in that what we're doing is giving people the community to be part of something more. And they can take that to the next level.” 

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