A Taste for Life 2012: Good Food, Good Cause

Steph Legari's Triple Pork Bites Steph Legari's Triple Pork Bites
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Ottawa’s service industries are facing a period of uncertainty as the primary employer in the city implements austerity measures, threatening the jobs of many government employees. To restaurants, tenuously employed public servants represent regular patrons. Already, many fine food shops and caterers have told us their customers are being cautious about how they spend what may be their last pay cheques. As carefully worded letters continue to be issued and cut backs are revealed, some restauranteurs and chefs predict the already conservative dining-out segment in Ottawa may become even more frugal.

So, in this challenging environment, why have 45 restaurants and caterers in the National Capital Region (Ottawa and Gatineau) decided to participate in the 14th annual “A Taste for Life” campaign, donating 25% of their sales for the evening of Wednesday, April 25th to Bruce House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation?

For Chef Steve Wallace and his wife Gen, whose modern Italian restaurant Burnt Butter (1100 Wellington Street) is situated in the trendy Hintonburg neighbourhood, the reason is “community.”

“Since Steve and I opened 8 months ago, we have been overwhelmed by how supportive the Ottawa community has been to us.”, she wrote in an e-mail to us. “From the very start we knew that we wanted to give back to a community that has helped us and wanted to look for ways to do this.”

“We had been aware of ‘A Taste for Life’ through our years in the restaurant industry and really felt that it was such an important community fundraiser.”

Similar sentiments are shared by other chef entrepreneurs participating, including those who contributed to today’s event launch, which was hosted again by Urban Element (424 Parkdale Avenue). Burnt Butter, Epicuria (newly re-opened in Manor Park), and Pelican Fishery & Grill (1500 Bank Street) donated their staff, equipment, and food, to the media event. Wine and beer was provided by Barefoot Wine and HogsBack Brewery.

Barefoot BubblyHogsback Lager

Burnt Butter's Goat Cheese Mousse, Caramelized Onion, and Poached Pear Bruschetta

Burnt Butter's Goat Cheese Mousse, Caramelized Onion, and Poached Pear Bruschetta

According to Jim Foster of Pelican Fishery & Grill, who will be participating for the 6th consecutive year, “A Taste for Life” is a great event. There is no overhead. There is no marketing material to prepare. There is no event space to set up in. “We’re a fish shop with a restaurant…Patrons come to us.”, he said while deftly slicing cold smoked salmon for swarming media.

Freshly Sliced Pelican Fish & Grill Smoked Salmon

Freshly Sliced Pelican Fish & Grill Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon with Capers and Whipped Cream Cheese

Smoked Salmon with Capers and Whipped Cream Cheese

Jim Foster

Jim Foster

Besides cold smoking approximately 500 lbs of salmon a week, Pelican hot smokes rainbow trout, which Foster also laid out for sampling.

This year Steph “the Grilling Gourmet” Legari is the face of “A Taste for Life.” When asked why he accepted the spokesperson role, which was offered by Jill Woodley of Bruce House, Legari said it was an easy decision to make. “AIDS is tragic,” he explained. “‘A Taste for Life’ benefits AIDS causes. The event makes people aware of [the challenges and hardships] surrounding living with AIDS.”

Steph Legari

Steph Legari

Any opportunity that arises that combines a good cause, food, and great chefs, “I’m all for it!”

Legari then politely excused himself to slice more pork for his “Triple Pork” bite, which disappeared quickly.

Individual Triple Pork Bite

Individual Triple Pork Bite

[pulled pork (apple smoked pork butt finished in Kansas City red sauce), double smoked bacon from Lavergne Butcher Shop (3971 Navan Road), pork tenderloin (charcoal grilled), radish sprouts, Artisin Bakery (250 City Centre Avenue #112) Corn Bread]

The concept behind “A Taste for Life” originated in Philadelphia and has since been adopted by many cities in Canada and the United States. Bruce House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation debuted Ottawa’s first event in 1999. In 2011, twenty-four communities hosted “A Taste for Life.” To date, $2.2 million has been raised for people in Ontario and Alberta living with HIV/AIDS.

The concept itself is simple:

  1. Book a table at one of the participating restaurants on April 25th.
  2. Have a dinner out with your friends or family.
  3. Each restaurant donates 25% of the cost of your meal (food and alcohol, before tax) to Bruce House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation.

A list of the remarkable community-oriented restaurants and caterers, participating in “A Taste for Life” for 2012 follows:

[Please bear in mind seating may well be limited now, most establishments having encouraged their regulars to participate for a month.]

1208 Wellington Street West

Allium Restaurant
87 Holland Avenue

540 Rochester Street

Black Thorn Café
12 Clarence Street

Brookstreet – Perspectives Restaurant
525 Legget Drive

Burgers on Main (BOM)
343 Somerset Street West

Burnt Butter
1100 Wellington Street West

Café Paradiso
199 Bank Street

Canvas Resto-Bar
65 Holland Avenue

East India Company

210 Somerset Street West

357 St. Laurent Boulevard

Farbs Kitchen & Wine Bar
18 Beechwood Ave.

Il Piccolino Ristorante
449 Preston Street

Il Primo Ristorante
371 Preston Street

Jak’s Kitchen
479 Bronson Avenue

Kasbah Village Moroccan Cuisine
261 Laurier Avenue West

La Roma Restaurant
430 Preston Street

Lapointe’s Seafood Grill
55 York Street

Lapointe’s Seafood Grill
60 Colchester

Lapointe’s Seafood Grill
194 Robertson Road

Lapointe’s Seafood Grill
2010 Trim Rd.

Les Fougères Restaurant
785 Route 105 (Chelsea)

Murray Street Kitchen
110 Murray Street

Napoli’s Café and Grill
1300 Main Street (Hull)

OZ Kafé
361 Elgin Street

Pelican Grill
1500 Bank Street

Petit Bill’s Bistro
1293 Wellington Street

Siam Bistro
1268 Wellington Street West

537 Sussex Drive

The Buzz Restaurant
374 Bank Street

The Clock Tower Brew Pub
575 Bank Street

The Clock Tower Brew Pub
89 Clarence Street

The Clock Tower Brew Pub
422 MacKay Street

The Clocktower Brew Pub
418 Richmond Road

The Foolish Chicken
79 Holland Avenue

The Whalesbone Restaurant
430 Bank Street

Thyme and Again/Exposure Gallery
1255 Wellington Street West

Todric’s Fine Dining & Catering
10 McArthur Avenue

296 Elgin Street.

Trattoria Caffee Italia
254 Preston Street

Zen Kitchen
634 Somerset Street West

Zola’s Restaurant
194 Robertson Road

At each restaurant, lead sponsor TD Bank Group provides volunteers, including a host. Hosts explain where funds will go and how they will benefit those living with HIV/AIDS.

Last year, 4000 diners participated in “A Taste for Life.”

Where will you dine on April 25th?

The Urban Element
424 Parkdale Avenue
(613) 722-3332

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.