A love of food and entertaining has evolved into a family focused entrepreneurial venture for South Surrey’s Cathy Gates.
After a variety of careers – including managing a home-furnishing chain and working in rehabilitation for brain injury patients – Gates has teamed up with her partner, Dorothy, sister, Lorna and Dorothy’s nephew, Dov, to open a new market and deli in Crescent Beach.
Aptly named Thitsas – Greek for “aunties” – Gates said the market is something the family has been thinking of embarking on for several years, inspired by other small markets they have enjoyed shopping at over.
“We ourselves have always shopped at smaller markets,” Gates explained. “We really liked the idea and the atmosphere and thought, ‘let’s give it a shot.’ For the past 10 to 15 years it’s been a dream to have something like this.”
The family had a fairly healthy fan-base for their cooking before going into the market project – Cathy and Dorothy had been preparing and selling spanakopita from their home, which became so popular they were getting orders for as many as 60 to 80 dozen per month.
With Thitsas, they’ve expanded to included traditional deli fare, plus other take-home delights such as moussaka, lamb stew and patitsio. Gates said they also strive to carry natural, higher quality and more nutritious snacks and candy, something she said has been well-received by the customers.
“From the local people here guiding us into what sort of things they’d like to see, it was definitely an emphasis on much more nutritious, healthier item,” she said.
Since opening in late spring, Gates said they’ve really enjoyed getting to know the diverse clientele, many of whom have a lot of history in the Crescent Beach community.
“The history down here is very rich – that is something that was unexpected,” she said. “The amount of people who have lived down here for years upon years, it’s really interesting.”
The recipe Gates chose to share comes from Dorothy’s Aunt Danae, who moved to Canada from Greece in the 1930s and is one of several family recipes on the menu at Thitsas.
“All the old family recipes that have been passed down – that’s what we try to keep with.”
Shrimp in Tomato Wine & Feta Cheese
4 medium-sized tomatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley, divided
1/2 tsp. crushed, dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt & black pepper
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 pound cooked, shelled shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
Blanch tomatoes in boiling water and peel (or use diced tomatoes in canned, with most of the juice removed). If they are fresh, core them, and chop them coarsely to remove seeds and juices.
Place olive oil in a large frying pan with onions. Cook the onions for approximately four minutes until they are soft, but not brown. Stir in the tomatoes, wine and half the parsley, oregano, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil and cook over high heat uncovered till the mixture thickens to a light puree. Add cheese and shrimp and heat just to warm through. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Serve over rice. Makes four servings.