It’s not your typical sports fundraiser, but a local soccer team is cooking up a storm at Taste of Edmonton to raise money so they can keep playing the sport they love.

For the Cheetahs FC, working together as a team doesn’t stop when they leave the soccer pitch.

“First couple days, I had to do a lot of the work. But now, they’re running the show,” club founder Salar Melli said of his teenage players.

Melli is also a chef, and for years he was a vendor at the festival with his restaurant called Vintage Fork.

Now a tea shop, Vintage Fork is back at Taste of Edmonton with a staple that won the hearts and stomachs of Edmontonians in 2019.

The butler steak sandwich was awarded tastiest menu item at Taste of Edmonton 2019.

The players are also serving up garlic butter parmesan corn on the cob and an onion ring tower with tomato dijon aioli.

“Being a team is the exact same thing as being a family, you know. Working out together, doing all the stuff together, I love it too,” said player Ablie Saidiba.

Money from sales will go towards supporting and growing the soccer club.

“We want everyone to play soccer. we want to get more kids into the sport,” Melli said.

The players say working together on the field comes naturally. In the kitchen, it can be a little scrambled, but for them, that’s part of the fun.

“A lot of people are just getting experience here working at restaurants because it’s a lot of their first jobs. It’s just been a joyful experience,” player Adam Resendes said.

“It’s a great idea, you know, having people combine, working together. [It’s] so much fun too,” Saidiba said.

Coach Melli feels combining his two passions – football and food – has been a perfect match for him, the team and hungry people.

Taste of Edmonton in Sir Winston Churchill Square wraps up on Sunday night.

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