Supporting a good cause seems like a fitting reward for reaping the benefits of Ottawa's thriving culinary community. Their connections with a network of generous chefs, vintners, brew-masters, farmers and other food suppliers results in top-notch meals.
On August 24, 2013 at the Sheraton Ottawa, organizers Robin Duetta and Stephanie Kelly held Toronto Takes Over, in support of the Ottawa Humane Society and the Kurt O. Waldele Student Bursary Endowment fund at Algonquin College. Four of Toronto's finest chefs teamed up with local counterparts and the resulting collaborations were as delicious as they were beautiful.
A cocktail reception with gorgeous cheese plates prepared by Jacobson's Concept Gourmet kicked off the four hours of feasting. Passed hors d'oeuvres included smoked duck mousse cones as well as a buttermilk cracker topped with smoked salmon, painstakingly created by visiting chef Anthony Walsh.
The seated portion of the meal was full of surprises including fun moments as the chefs came out of the kitchen to introduce and explain their dishes and culinary influences. Equally enjoyable were the wine pairings, selected by Roger Linton of Vintner's Choice.
First up was a plated appetizer crafted by Michael Hay and John Morris, which consisted of a creamy corn pudding topped with goat cheese gnudi and tender Mariposa duck breast. The crowning touch - to the audible surprise of many - was fried corn silk.
The second course was one of the night's prettiest plates. Charlotte Langley and Danny Mongeon's collaboration composed of raw scallop and Ahi tuna along with a raft of delicate accompaniments, the most intriguing of which was a salt-cured egg yolk which had the texture of dried fruit.
Fish was also the star of the third course, a sweet and salty poached pike dish with a red pepper coulis sphere, served up by avid fisherman Frederic Filliodeau. Unfortunately, his partner for the evening, Toronto's Nathan Isberg, was unable to make the trip to Ottawa but the other chefs rallied to lend a hand in his absence.
The palate cleanser was prepared by Robert Bourassa, an adored fixture of Ottawa's culinary scene. His honeydew melon, lime and crushed pepper sorbet, decorated with an edible nasturtium blossom from his own garden, was delightful.
Next up was a complex and flavourful dish created by Anthony Walsh and Clifford Lyness, featuring beef tenderloin and braised short rib along with roasted vegetables and Clarmell Farms' feta cheese. It was followed by a chocolate-caramel-marshmallow dessert which Frederic Filliodeau said was inspired by the first dish he had when he came to Canada - s'mores!
For those attending the NAC garden party the following day, the evening was a stellar kickoff to a two-day celebration of fun, fraternity and fundraising.