It is always an honour to partake of meals made by chefs for their peers. Michelin Stars, AAA/CAA Diamonds, and listings published by Air Canada’s enRoute magazine are nice and all, real boons to business, but it’s often judgement from your peers that count. Who else beside those that brave the heat of a commercial kitchen to put intricate plates of well executed food on the pass for service truly understands what you do?
Members of Ottawa’s restaurant and catering industry cooking for their own is what makes the exclusive “Chef Appreciation” night at Oz Balbinar’s Oz Kafe (361 Elgin Street) special. Held the last Monday of every given month, you have to work for a restaurant to make a reservation. Oz and her staff check the call display.
Yes, there are supper clubs like Cobra Ottawa and chef collaboration dinners like next Monday’s Knives Out event. But, the rank and file that make up the the back and front of house are still serving regular patrons. While kitchens may still be the lookout for Anne DesBrisay, the city’s former foremost food critic, if ever you want to hear discernible unease on the voice of a chef, ask him or her to cook for another chef.
Once in a while, the hosting chef of an Oz “night” will invite me to attend, my usually perching on one of the bar seats, shooting the plates, eating, and leaving discreetly.
Here is Chef Danny Mongeon’s Halloween-themed multi-course from this past Monday. The Executive Chef of Hooch Bourbon House (180 Rideau Street), Mongeon is making quite the name for himself with his style of comfort country with a few modernist flourishes.
[w/caramelized apple; roasted pumpkin; granola; Sailor Jerry’s soaked cranberries; toasted marshmallows]
[w/bison and pork chorizo stuffed trotter; smoked cheddar grits; glazed peaches; swine reduction]
Inspired by Dickie Dee’s ghost pops of his youth, these monster-sized pops were made with citrus sorbet and were served with dry ice.
361 Elgin Street
Hooch Bourbon House
180 Rideau Street
Tags: Danny Mongeon, featured, Hooch Bourbon House, Industry Night, Oz Kafe