A Taste for Life: Dining Out for a Cause

A Taste for Life Launch A Taste for Life Launch
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By comparison Ottawa’s local economy is less turbulent than that of many European cities. Countries like Cyprus and Greece risk defaulting on their respective national debt. Still, the Government of Canada, the national capital region’s primary employer, is two-years into implementing austerity measures. It has rationalized both the services it offers and how those services are delivered. Continued employment uncertainty and budget cuts have resulted in an almost permanent lull in dining out. Put simply, already conservative diners are now skittish.

Yet, in this challenging environment, no fewer than forty-eight restaurants have signed on to host A Taste for Life dinners next Wednesday (April 24, 2013), many for the first time.

Each will donate 25% of their sales for the evening to Bruce House and the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation.

When we asked Randy Fitzpatrick of Petit Bill’s Bistro (1293 Wellington Street W.) why his restaurant is again participating, he said, “As part of our ongoing community support, we feel A Taste for Life is a great example of what we all can do together.”

The sentiment was shared by chefs and restauranteurs during A Taste for Life’s official launch this past Monday at The Urban Element (424 Parkdale Avenue).

The Grilling Gourmet

Said second year Spoke-Chef Steph Legari, “It is a good feeling to know that we can bring restaurants together to celebrate food and support a cause….[A Taste for Life] benefits everyone!”

Second Year Spokes-Chef Steph Legari, the Grilling Gourmet

Second Year Spokes-Chef Steph Legari, the Grilling Gourmet

Legari 48-hour Cured and 9-hour smoked Salmon

Legari 48-hour Cured and 9-hour smoked Salmon

Food Journalist Gay Cook, Discussing Legari's Salmon

Food Journalist Gay Cook, Discussing Legari’s Salmon

Legari's Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Chicken Wings

Legari’s Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Chicken Wings

Legari, Pulling Wings from his Rig

Legari, Pulling Wings from his Rig

The Grilling Gourmet with his rig and truck

[The salmon was dry cured in Legari’s patented “fire lick” rub, garlic, and chile. While it was curing, it was pressed with dill. Then, it was apple wood smoked and rested two days. The chicken wings were bathed in Legari’s “sweet red” rub, butter, and bourbon. Then, they were wrapped in sugar-cured bacon, spiked with more “fire lick” rub. Ian Slipacoff of Premium Meats donated the ingredients for the dishes Legari served.]

il Primo

Said Craig Pedersen, restauranteur of il Primo Ristorante on Preston Street (371), “We were one of the original restaurants. We are very supportive of the community and have seen nothing but growth [in the event during the past] 15 years.”

Chef Andrew Lucy of il Primo

Chef Andrew Lucy of il Primo

il Primo's Butternut squash ravioli w/chevre alfredo sauce

il Primo’s Butternut squash ravioli w/chevre alfredo sauce

New Generation Sushi

General manager Bou Chiv of New Generation Sushi (150 Laurier Avenue) explained his restaurant has been in business for eight years. Wednesday will be its first time participating in A Taste for Life. Accordingly, “We like to be involved in the community…any chance to give back. Without the community we would not have survived for eight years!”

New Generation's Salmon Tartare with Lotus Chip

New Generation’s Salmon Tartare with Lotus Chip

New Generation's deep fried salmon and tilapia Dragon Eyes Rolls

New Generation’s deep fried salmon and tilapia Dragon Eyes Rolls

New Generation's Vegetarian Tempura Rolls

New Generation’s Vegetarian Tempura Rolls

New Generation's "Sushi Bites" with crapstick and cream cheese

New Generation’s “Sushi Bites” with crapstick and cream cheese

New Generation's Vegetarian Tempura RollsNew Generation's Salmon Tartare with Lotus Chip

Taylor’s Genuine

Chef Ryan Edwards of first time participating Taylor’s Genuine Food And Winebar (1091 Bank Street) in Old Ottawa South was visibly excited. His restaurant has been fully booked for weeks. “It’s a good cause,” he said.

Taylor's Beer Braised Tri-Tip Tostadas with Mole

Taylor’s Beer Braised Tri-Tip Tostadas with Mole

Taylor's Chicken Liver Mousse

Taylor’s Chicken Liver Mousse

Main Street Cellar

Main Street Cellar's Smoked Salmon Anijito

Main Street Cellar’s Smoked Salmon Anijito

Restauranteur Kim Burns and Chef Ian Suntrum of Main Street Cellar (5561 Manotick Main Street) in Manotick are happy to be involved in fundraisers for charitable causes, especially if the particular event focuses on food. Burns explained, “Besides, it’s about time Manotick participates. We want [neighborhood] residents to save the taxi fare to go downtown. If they dine with us, they can put it towards the fight against HIV/AIDS.”

A Taste for Life launched in Ottawa in 1999. Since then, the event has expanded into many communities across Canada, including Hamilton, Kingston, London, Stratford, Thunder Bay, even Calgary. Initially, Ottawa raised a respectable $65k. Last year, with almost four thousand diners, Ottawa raised $90k. The target this year is $100k.

Though, according to Lise Turpin, Executive Director of the Snowy Owl AIDS Foundation, “The goal is to one day not have to raise money to fight HIV/AIDS…In the meantime, HIV is still here and the need remains great.”

At the launch, Mayor Jim Watson presented organizers a plaque, recognizing the event’s fifteen years, raising funds to support and house persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

During the decade and a half, A Taste for Life has grown with the city, gaining some name recognition. As Jill Woodley, Fund Development and Community Engagement for Bruce House, explained, she doesn’t always have to pitch the event anymore. “When I walked into Navarra [Restaurant] in the ByWard Market, I just explained I was with A Taste for Life and the owner [Chef Rene Rodriguez] was immediately on board. I then sat down to one of the finest meals!”

Next week, 120 volunteers will be deployed, 75 provided by lead sponsor TD Bank Group. Some will be hosts at restaurants, explaining where funds will go. Others will take supporting roles, anything restaurants need.

Bottom line, A Taste for Life is ridiculously simple:

  1. Book a table at one of the participating restaurants on April 24th. There are still seats!
  2. Have a dinner out with your friends or family, ordering from the regular menu.
  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.

That’s it!

Click here for a full list of participating restaurants.

Standouts we recommend?

1208 Wellington Street West

Allium Restaurant
87 Holland Avenue

Canvas Resto-Bar
65 Holland Avenue

Murray Street Kitchen
110 Murray Street

(613) 241-5500
93 Murray Street

OZ Kafé
361 Elgin Street

Petit Bill’s Bistro
1293 Wellington Street

296 Elgin Street.

With restaurants across greater Ottawa participating, where will you dine on April 24th? It really is “Hope Made Delicious.”

By the way, restaurants aren’t the only ones contributing this year. Travel Adviser Sheila Gallant-Holloran of Lush Life Travel, explained Vision 2000 Travel Group will donate $100 for every Oceania Cruise booking to A Taste for Life causes. Moreover, Don Cook of Cook Consulting ((613)421-6929) was on hand, pouring a special Daniel Lenko unoaked chardonnay, called “Chardongay.” Served at Town and Canvas, one dollar from every bottle sold goes to HIV/AIDS research. Unfortunately, the LCBO does not carry this wine.

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.