With the first-ever Canadian Celebrity Chef Event, held Jan. 24th at the National Arts Centre, Chef Michael Blackie has proven himself to be one of Ottawa's finest food impresarios.
He brought together eight of the national capital region's top chefs, pairing them with equal talents from all across Canada.
The result was a delicious, impressive day that drew hundreds of foodies to the NAC and raised a generous amount in support of the NAC's National Youth and Education Trust.
First up was a full day of culinary demonstrations, with each team putting on an impressive, educational show.
In the evening, the event shifted gears to become a giant cocktail party, with luminaries from all strata of Ottawa society rubbing shoulders with a large crowd of food lovers who happily mingled at the eight unique food stations.
Spotted in attendance were:
- Media types TL Rader from Rogers Daytime, Kurt Stoodley from A Channel, and Stuntman Stu of BOB FM;
- Ardent foodies Kent Browne of Royal LePage Team Realty and Richard Mahoney of National Public Relations;
- Food industry folks, including Steve Beckta of Play and Beckta restaurants, Sheila Whyte of Thyme & Again and Debbie Trenholm of Savvy Company.
While all the foods available in generous portions for sampling throughout the evening were delicious, numerous guests cited as their favourite the offering from Norm Aitken (of Ottawa's Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar) and Michael Howell (from Wolfville, Nova Scotia's Tempest).
Their crispy sea bass with a bevy of accoutrements was sublime and perfectly paired with a 2009 Reserve L'Acadie from Domaine de Grand Pré Winery in Nova Scotia.
Another top taste was the seared scallop perched on crispy pig cheek and beet risotto, topped with apple slaw, dished up by Canadian culinary and food TV icon David Rocco and Cesare Santaguida of Ottawa's Vittoria Trattoria.
Chef Blackie already has changes in mind for next year's edition. "We're going to move into the theatre space, and we're going to open it up to international chefs. It's going to be amazing," he enthused. We can't wait.
You can also view a slideshow of the event with pictures taken by Ottawa At Home photographer Mark Holleron.