Donna Dooher’s famous blueberry pancakes.

Donna Dooher & Joanne Yolles on CP24

Jeanne Beker
I was wide awake during my brain surgery for Parkinson's. Here's how it changed my life. Harry Forestell

A delightful five minutes with Chefs Donna Dooher and Joanne Yolles

Thanks, CP24 hosts Jennifer Hsiung and Nick Dixon, for inviting us to CP24 Breakfast. The interview shares a bit of history, details on the November 12, 2023 event, and two tasty previews by Donna and Joanne.

The interview transcript is below.

CP24: November 9, 2023

Interview transcript

Nick Dickson: Well, more than 6,600 people in Canada will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease this year. And that’s why our next guests are passionate about raising money for Parkinson’s research with their upcoming event, Porridge for Parkinson’s.

Jennifer Hsiung: it’s happening this Sunday at Evergreen Brick Works, and here to show us some of the amazing food that will be served at Sunday’s event are chefs Joanne Yolles and Donna Dooher. Thank you so much for coming in to talk about this event. Joanne, I want to start with you because you, of course, started porch for Parkinson’s 16 years ago. So that’s quite special.

Joanne Yolles: Well, it actually started in Vancouver by a [Marg Meikle] who had Parkinson’s, and she wanted to come up with an inexpensive way to raise money so she thought she put a pot of porridge on the stove and invited her friends in and then some of her friends in Toronto continued that and then got chefs involved.

Nick Dickson: Donna, you’re one of the chefs participating here. What is it like? What does it mean to you to be participating in this?

Donna Dooher: I think, like so many people who are involved in the event, we’d been touched by Parkinson’s. Family members, loved ones, close friends. So when Joanne and Jamie Kennedy called me 14 years ago and said, “Donna, come and make pancakes.” I was ready to come in and get on board. We will be doing our signature pancakes. We’re excited—we have a lot of people coming in.

Nick Dickson: And when it comes to approaching the chef to take our what, what sort of response do you typically get and how many will be at the event coming up?

Joanne Yolles: Well, the response is amazing. When I call my friends, they say I’ll be there because they know people with Parkinson’s are happy to participate. We have about 15 chef stations.

Nick reaches for banana cake.

Joanne Yolles: This is banana cake loaded with some goodies. I have some banana flavour cream, and because I’m a pastry chef, I couldn’t just make plain banana bread. I had to take it up a level, so I piped a little banana-flavoured cream. I wanted to have a little fun and make it breakfast, so Rice Krispies for the top.

Jennifer Hsiung: I understand Jeanne Beker, a longtime alum of this building, hosts [Emcee Extraordinare], but there’s a guest speaker as well, right?

Donna Dooher: Yes, there’s always a guest speaker talking about the research that’s been taking place and, you know, all the advancements that are happening, which is really exciting. [Harry Forestell in 2023] It is so much fun because, as chefs, we don’t get together. We’re always working. And Joanne has been amazing in bringing us all together. You know, sometimes we see the email come through. It’s like; it’s time for Parkinson’s.

Nick Dickson: What is the overall fundraising goal, and how much have you raised so far?

Joanne Yolles: We’ve raised over the years over a million dollars, and all the money goes to research at the movement disorders clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital that Dr Tony Lang has set up.*

Nick Dickson: Such a delicate slice!

Joanne Yolles: There’s a little coffee in there to wake you up.

Jennifer Hsiung: And while Nick is working on the cake. I’m just going to cut a bit of this delicious pancake.

Nick Dickson: What goes into your pancakes?

Donna Dooher: Oh, well, love is the most important ingredient, but these are our famous blueberry buttermilk pancakes. We’ve been serving them for 35 years at our restaurants.

Nick Dickson: I suppose the idea of having food at an event like this is, you know, people love to talk around a meal. Talk about Parkinson’s, talk about the importance of it—and I’m sure everyone who comes has some sort of connection or affiliation or family connection. So, are there still tickets available? That’s the big question.

Joanne Yolles: Yes, they’re selling quickly, but they are available on our website, which is And I should say, this is sort of sweet stuff, but we also have a lot of interesting, savoury things as well.

Donna Dooher: It’s a big brunch!

Jennifer Hsiung: It’s a great event. And these pancakes are unreal!

Donna Dooher: Our pancakes make people happy!

 Nick Dickson: Yeah, we’re very happy right now!

*Since 2019, funds have been directed toward the Parkinson’s Research Excellence Fund at the Edmond J Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease at the Krembil Brain Institute, Toronto Western Hospital, UHN. The Program is led by Dr. Anthony Lang, who is recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts in Parkinson’s disease. Research supported

We released our last block of tickets, and online tickets are no longer available. No worries! You can still brunch with us on Sunday, November 12

Rush tickets will be available for purchase at the Welcome Desk at Evergreen Brick Works on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. $200 per person. Cards & cash accepted.

You can also make a Porridge for Parkinson’s donation through the UHN Foundation and direct funds to the Edmond J. Safra Program in Parkinson’s Disease at Krembil Brain Institute, Toronto Western Hospital, UHN. Donations you make today will help Dr Lang and the team continue their groundbreaking Parkinson’s research.


Evergreen Toronto Brick Works

550 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8