Recap of Celebrity Chefs of Canada - [Ottawa Event]

Holy Hannah! I can’t believe Celebrity Chefs of Canada has come and gone like a brilliant passing thought. It seems like just yesterday that we received the kick-off email explaining which chefs we would be paired with. 

This past Sunday (March 25th), with a certain sort of reservation, I pulled open the heavy doors of Canada’s National Art Centre not knowing quite what to expect. Unlike most of the other bloggers participating in the event, this was my first year. I had a strange mixture of excitement, nervousness and anxiety about what was to come. 

The second I saw my fellow bloggers, whom I’m also lucky to call my friends, I was at ease. Familiar, smiling faces all excitedly waiting to check-in, grab their seats, and get the show on the road. There was an eager buzz in NAC Studio as we waited for the event to commence. 

 [Chef Duffy, myself, and Chef Bangerter - photo by Lynne Frappier]

Michael Blackie, event organizer and Chef extraordinaire, welcomed us all to the 2nd Annual CCOC event, and you could tell that he was just as excited as we were. And with a few words, we were off! The next 5 hours passed in a blink as 9 teams of paired chefs from Ottawa and around Canada demoed some of the most stunning dishes I’ve ever seen. The crowd was awed numerous times, and when we weren’t stunned by a new technique or artfully plated dish, we were howling at the charismatic charm of all these talented ladies and gentlemen. There was a few times when I had to actively try not to smile as my cheeks were cramping up from laughing. It was a wonderful experience. Let me take you a on a little tour of what went down at CCOC… 

Chef Team #1:
Marc Lepine (Atelier - Ottawa) & Quang Dang (West Restaurant + Bar)

Citrus Marinated BC Geoduck with Ocean Emulsion

Chef Team #2:
Patricia Larkin (Black Cat Bistro - Ottawa) & Ned Bell (YEW|Four Seasons - Vancouver)

Oceanwise albacore tuna tartare from Steve at Organic Ocean, pickled shallot, cucumber and radish + red miso and lemon vinaigrette, black and white sesame praline

Chef Team #3:
Cesare Santaguida (Vittoria Trattoria - Ottawa) & Vikram Vij (Rangoli & Vij’s - Vancouver)

Encrusted Lamb Lollipops & Ravioli 

Chef Team #4 
Patrick McMurray (The Ceili Cottage - Toronto) with surprise guest Michael Blackie (Le Cafe - Ottawa)

ShuckerPaddy’s Hogtown chowder

Chef Team #5:
Matthew Carmichael (Restaurant 18 - Ottawa) & Susur Lee (LEE - Toronto)  

“Chorizo Style” St. Canut Suckling Pig, Parmesan Crusted Fennel, Lobster salad | Saffron Mayonnaise 

Chef Team #6 
(Whom I also refer to as ‘My Jays’ as they were my designated chefs for CCOC - I’m hoping they don’t mind)
Jason Duffy (Arc Lounge - Ottawa) & Jason Bangerter (O&B Canteen & LUMA - Toronto)

Braised elk ribs-creamy polenta-tasty crispy bits

Chef Team #7 
Jonathan Korecki (SideDoor Restaurant - Ottawa) & Jeremy Charles (Raymonds - St. John’s) 

Wild Newfoudland Rabbit: Crispy Rabbit Ravioli| Rabbit Liver Mousse|Rabbit Terrine “Presse” 

Chef Team #8:
Clifford Lyness (Brookstreet - Ottawa) & Jason Parsons (Peller Estates Winery - Niagra-on-the-lake) 

Smoked sous vide magret | confit le


Chef Team #9:
Michael Blackie (Le Cafe - Ottawa) & Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco - Toronto)

Seed to Sausage double smoked bacon | duck | cranberries | mimolette gnocchi 

                       [Photo courtesy of Hilary Duff - Hilary Makes]

Unfortunately, I had to leave the event after the demos so was unable to gobble up all the sensuous food I’d been tasting via my nostrils all day. That said, I still had such an incredible time.

Watching the local and celebrity chefs interact and share their food philosophies, ideas on sustainability and innovative cuisine was a treat on all it’s own. Every single demo pulled the audience in and entertained in ways you wouldn’t expect from a cooking demo. I’m sure they all took some classes on charisma and charm prior to the event - there is no other way they could all be so lovely. Especially that Vikram Vij - if I didn’t love him before, I certainly do now. He seems the sort of Chef that would invite you in off the streets to share a meal with him and his family while he regaled you of tails from growing up in New Delhi & Bombay, India. Warm, inviting and kind. Which is not to take away from the other chefs - every participant literally pulled you into their lives and their restaurants to get even just a glimpse of their day-to-day world. I was enthralled from the get-go. 

If you missed this event, fret not. I have no doubt it will be back, bigger and better, next year. This WILL be the food event in Canada and you should get in before it blows up to a Nation-wide phenomenon and tickets are sold out months in advance. 

For more recaps on the event from my media peers, see: 
Hilary Makes
Simply Fresh
The Lemon Kitchen
Ottawa At Home (Paula Roy) 

To see the rest of my photos from Celebrity Chefs, have a peek at my Flickr page

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