The following guest post continues a series of “Meet a Gold Medal Plates Competing Chef” interviews you will see on the Fridays leading up to the Gold Medal Plates Event in Ottawa. It comes from Shari (@whisk_food_blog) of Whisk: A Food Blog.
And without further ado…
For this installment of “Meet a Gold Medal Plates Competing Chef”, we get to know Chef René Rodriguez from Navarra (93 Murray St.).
Chef René was born in Ottawa, lived in Mexico and started cooking at age 12, according to the owner profile of his restaurant website. Before attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school at age 24, he’d already worked six years in various restaurants.
Prior to becoming chef and owner at Navarra, Chef René was at the Black Cat Bistro when it was on Murray Street, was an executive chef at Luxe Bistro and before that at Ironwood Café, Luna Bar and Kitchen, ARC.the hotel, Social and briefly at Pelican Grill. Here’s a video from last year of Chef René participating in a friendly chef battle with some of Ottawa’s elite chefs.
Navarra focuses on Basque cuisine (from the Northern region of Spain) with wines from that area. It is a small intimate restaurant with about 30 seats and an open kitchen. And one I always suggest to people who ask for recommendations about where to eat in Ottawa. (Here’s my review of it from Metro Ottawa.) It is also the restaurant that inspired Rachelle from Rachelle Eats Food to start her food blog! Where to Eat in Canada Guide 2010- 2011 awarded Navarra 2 Stars for the last two consecutive years, one of 80 restaurants across Canada to have the coveted 2 star rating (maximum of 3).
I was first introduced to Chef René on (what I think is still the best cooking show out there) Cook Like a Chef where he shared his passion for food.
His restaurant is a highly recommended destination, and I look forward to tasting his creations at Gold Medal Plates!
What’s your philosophy when it comes to food and your restaurant?
I’m all about simplicity and choosing the best ingredients for our customers.
What inspires you? How do you come up with ideas for the dishes you create?
Sometimes it only takes a great tune to be inspired or to travel to another country to be inspired.
What’s your favourite dish on your menu?
Right now, pig cheeks cooked super crispy.
What’s the ingredient you can’t live without? (other than basics)
Is there anything you won’t eat?
Do you have a guilty food pleasure?
Pig cheeks and foie gras
What was your most memorable meal and why?
A bone marrow custard with black trumpet mushrooms and garlic foam at Clio. It was a revelation and pure heaven.
What would your last meal be?
Sea urchin and Bollinger champagne
If you could travel to just one place in the world for food, where would you go and why?
It would be to El Raco de Can Fabes in Sant Celoni, just outside of Barcelona.
Describe your perfect Sunday.
Coffee, a stroll through the market and come home and cook beef short ribs with polenta and drink Barolo.
For those who are newly attending the Gold Medal Plates event, how would you describe it? What can one expect?
Expect pure excitement and fun.
How do you prepare for a competition like Gold Medal Plates?
I usually enjoy the anticipation and love the challenge.
Facebook Page: Gold Medal Plates Ottawa
To purchase tickets for Gold Medal Plates, contact Sue Holloway (contact information below) or click here.
Gold Medal Plates Ottawa
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 6:00 pm
National Arts Centre
53 Elgin Street
818 Nesbitt Place
Note: Thanks to Don from foodiePrints for taking the photographs for this post!