Hold the grease: T-Bird Café is a delicious, nutritious alternative to fast food

Grease is not the word at the T-Bird Café.

"We're located on Thunderbird Street in Burnaby," Chef Shay Kelly of The Caterer and T-Bird Café explains. "We just shortened the name to T-Bird. Our original idea was for all employees to wear leather jackets like those worn by the T-Birds gang in the move Grease, but that didn't pan out!"

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In just 100 square feet, Kelly and his team manage to make more than 300 healthy salads, sandwiches, hot entrées, wraps and delicious desserts daily, seven days a week.

"We make about eight different sandwiches, a different hot entrée each day, and we make all our own desserts and granola," he says.

It's a labour of love for Kelly, who has travelled and worked internationally, but who has a passion for all things local.

"While I can't buy everything locally," he says, "I give it a good try. Our meat and produce come from local farmers and we make just about everything fresh on the premises. Sure you can buy a Caesar salad dressing in a bottle that tastes not bad, but when we make it fresh that day with local ingredients. The taste is like night and day."

Another passion for Kelly is the desire to teach kids how to cook.

"I want kids to know how to cook," he says simply. "You know, their grandmother could cook, so could her mother, and so could her mother. But somewhere in my generation or the generation before, there was a skip. Kids aren't making cookies anymore. There's not that constant smell of cooking in a kitchen with three-year-olds anymore. It's a passion project. Yes, I want to make money to develop the bottom line, but it's all about the food and the kids for me."

Kelly believes that money will come eventually, but his priority are kids and his employees.

"I want this to be a place where people come to work and it's just a cool place with an environment where they're constantly learning."

Serving between 40 and 80 people per day, the T-Bird Café plans to expand its offerings to include take away meals for two, all made with fresh, local ingredients.

"We have to go local," Chef Kelly notes, "I want to be at the forefront of that. And we're beginning to bark in a very loud voice about it."

For more information on The Caterer or the T-Bird Café, call 778.723.0121, visit the website, email, or drop by the T-Bird Café at #106-3191 Thunderbird Crescent, Burnaby. The Caterer can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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