Glen Boothe has been spreading his personal warmth and Caribbean-style cooking throughout St. George campus since 1992.
Glen, Operations and Building Services Coordinator for the Division of University Advancement, is the creator and host of the Black History Month community luncheons that have captured the hearts and stomachs of almost everyone on campus, including President Gertler himself. If the temptation of hot spicy food in the dead of winter hasn’t already drawn you to the luncheons, the inspiring speakers that Glen invites, such as George Elliott Clarke and Dwight Drummond, just might cause you to venture out during Black History Month next February.
“Hart House has always been family to me. One of my favourite recollections was working at the wine tasting events, where I not only got to take home leftover samples, but increased my knowledge of wine appreciation. To me, Hart House feels like home.” —Glen Boothe
The dishes offered at each Black History Month luncheon are prepared and served with the help of a team of volunteers who have supported Glen over the decades. Hart House has been there beside him all the way by donating kitchen space and staff time. However, Glen’s connection to Hart House runs deeper than a just once-a-year event. To Chef Marco Tucci and the many cooks who cater the hundreds of dinners, weddings and banquets hosted each year at Hart House, Glen Boothe is like family. And, it turns out that Glen is not the only Boothe that feels at home at Hart House.
Glen’s son Chris worked for Hart House when he was a U of T student. He started out as wait staff, but soon moved into the kitchen.
“It was a very busy, always crowded and full space. We used to do all sorts of events ranging from Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, U of T functions, corporate events and others. My faves were the Summer BBQs and Robbie Burns dinners. In my early days, I do recall vividly the ice cream scooping. Oooh man there was soo much ice cream to scoop for some of those parties!” —Chris Boothe
These days, Chris works as a consultant in software quality assurance, but his time at Hart House was not only full of ice cream memories, it also helped set him up for success in the future. Chris shares some reminiscences from his days at Hart House.
“I was much younger back then and had the energy where I could do wait staff stuff and then also assist in the kitchen when needed. Chef Marco was a great guy, he was always approachable, had a good sense of humour and was willing to teach. He is much like that now…. just with more of the grayish hairs 🙂
“During coffee breaks in the kitchen, we had some very interesting and thought-provoking conversations. It was a great central place that acted as my home base from which I could branch out when I was on campus, thereby satisfying many of my U of T needs. I used the gym at Hart House and it was an amazing place. My routine was to come in very early when it was not too busy.
“What really stands out are the people I met at Hart House. The front desk people were amazing. I recall many moments spent at the Hart House front desk counter having good conversations at 8 am on Saturday that lasted hours, which sometimes almost had me missing my actual gym time.
“I also recall back in my first year, I was a very gullible young rookie who fell victim to all the pranks and shenanigans that the other staff always delighted in playing on me.
“I may have revisionist memories, but I do recall the Kitchen staff versus the Wait staff summer soccer games where the much older Kitchen staff held the winning record against the young guns.
“I still drop by the House every so often and go to the theatre and other events. Hart House always has some interesting activities. I plan to get to the $5-Buck Lunch, which was something I always enjoyed. My biggest regret is that I never joined the Hart House Archery Club. Maybe there’s still time!
“Hart House exposed me to many different people and taught me the lesson of hard work and dedication. I met some of my romantic interests through Hart House, and I also got to be actively involved in and exposed to events that occurred in the city (TIFF, Nuit Blanche) that I otherwise would not have known about.
“My computer science degree at U of T came in handy for my career. I really do enjoy my line of work and being able to interact with people. During my time at Hart House, I also had an opportunity to work as a video game tester, so I was doing that while working in the Hart House kitchen.
“Life is going well now. I had a chance to go to Scotland, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica in the past three years. I’m looking forward to enjoying the warmer weather when I can use the cooking knowledge that I learned in Hart House kitchen to organize BBQs and cook amazing meals for family and friends! That’s another way that I benefited from my Hart House years.”