Were I to write a book about the Ottawa food scene, I would dedicate a chapter to how the restaurants, caterers, and local producers embrace and support the community, oftentimes with astounding generosity.
With his “Flux” culinary collective and its inaugural event that benefits Shepherds of Good Hope, Chef Danny Mongeon of Hooch Bourbon Bar (180 Rideau Street) goes further. Mongeon aims to set an example. He intends to launch something self-sustaining that will grow and change.
But first, let us reflect on some history.
It was a cold day in January, 1983 when the priest of St. Brigid’s Catholic Church received a knock on the door. There stood a hungry man asking for food. The kindly priest made the man a sandwich. The next day – another knock on the door and so it continued day after day. Finally, the priest put an ad in the paper looking for volunteers to help feed the men and women who were lining up for food and St. Brigid’s Soup Kitchen, the predecessor of Shepherds of Good Hope was born. On February 7, 1983 – the first day the soup kitchen opened 23 people received a meal.
Today, approximately 700,000 meals are served from the Shepherds’ Soup Kitchen at 233 Murray Street annually.
[St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church (310 St. Patrick Street) is now a “center for the arts.” It is a venue, offering event and performance space. We’ve attended many a fundraiser in the Kildare Room, mostly cocktail events]
In 2012, Shepherds’ various facilities, from shelter (emergency and transitional) to supportive living, saw 54,654 beds booked for men and 24,536 beds booked for women.
Shepherds’ ongoing programs include clothing, food bank, and managed alcohol.
The Shepherds’ efforts, helping the homeless, resonate well with Mongeon.
Accordingly, his great grandmother was an Irish settler who owned and operated a bed and breakfast on Clarance Street with his great grandfather.
“Everyday she would serve the homeless food from her porch.”
To add perspective, Mongeon’s cousin Yvette further explained his grandmother raised 10 children. The bed and breakfast could house 18 boarders.
Always busy in the community, Mongeon contributes to many collaborative initiatives. He participates in Cobra Ottawa “secret supper club” events that benefit causes like the Ottawa Food Bank. He recently participated in Bon Appetit Ottawa, where he and his sous Adam Bannerman fed approximately 2000 attendees at the EY Centre (4899 Uplands Drive). That event benefited two-dozen causes like the Causeway Foundation, Christie Lake Kids, and Harmony House Women’s Shelter.
For Flux, Mongeon recruited fellow up-and-coming chefs to participate in what he hopes will be a series of events, starting with a wine-paired 16-course at Mariposa Farms in Plantagenet (6488 County Road 17).
Flux is a culinary collective of chefs, farmers, and people in need…with a strong focus on terroir, growth, and a sense of humanity
Participating chefs include Kyle Mortimer-Proulx, formerly of ZenKitchen (634 Somerset Street W.); Stephen LaSalle of The Albion Rooms (33 Nicholas Street); and Ian Reed at The Courtyard Restaurant (21 George Street).
Hooch is a bourbon bar with a modern-twists-on-Southern-Comfort menu. It serves Kentucky-inspired fare with a nod to New Orleans. ZenKitchen was Ottawa’s celebrated high-end vegan restaurant. It ceased operations in May. It served Euro-centric farm-to-table fare. The Albion Rooms is a venture by the Novotel Hotel in partnership with the Gorgeous Group. Intended to be an atypical hotel restaurant, it serves modern English fare with Canadian ingredients. The Courtyard is one of the city’s more venerable restaurants (30+ years). While more of a full-service event space that serves fine food, its menu has been simplified of late to be more accessible.
He and Proulx, both alumni of Perspectives at the Brookstreet Hotel (525 Legget Drive), see the series of events as an opportunity to leave their respective kitchens to “try new things.”
“It’s a great way to recharge as a chef… Do something different,” continued Reed.
“[Shephards of Good Hope] is a great cause,” said Proulx.
Of note, both Proulx and LaSalle have accepted invitations to compete in 2014’s prestigious Gold Medal Plates (GMP) competition this fall. GMP is the regional qualifying competition for the national Canadian Culinary Championships (CCC). Both the GMP and CCC raise money for the Canadian Olympic Foundation.
Several weeks ago, Mongeon offered a sneak peek at dishes he is considering serving at Flux. Subbing in for Marysol Foucault of Edgar (60 Rue Bégin, Gatineau), Hooch hosted May’s Chef Appreciation Night at Oz Kafe (361 Elgin Street). Mongeon’s was a menu of edible cocktails:
[w/spherified “juiced olives” and vermouth, and on roasted red pepper gel]
[cucumber mojito soup w/crab croquette, avocado mousse, honey drizzle, and compressed cucumber]
[w/”caesar” gel, celery juice compressed celery, ice berg lettuce, fried oyster, and steamed clam]
[w/pork belly braised in mirepoix, cinnamon, and vanilla; sweet potato puree with cinnamon and vanilla; carbonated burned lime gel (dressing)]
[w/bitters and vermouth “earth”, sour cherry gel, maple cotton candy, and bourbon ice cream]
[w/citrus curd, vanilla and gin sphere, crunchy meringue, blood orange sponge]
For his courses, Proulx plans plates featuring spruce tips, salsify, and carrots and radishes.
Lasalle plans to feature fish and seeds and grains. When we last spoke with him, he was considering infusing Dillon’s Vodka with juniper, creating his own “short” gin. This, he would pair with a lemon seed tart.
Reed also plans something with juniper.
What is unique about this Flux event is the pledge that goes with purchasing a ticket, which includes a seat on a chartered bus traveling from Hooch to Mariposa Farms and back. Attendees must fill out volunteer registration forms and donate 2 hours to Shepherds.
So, 16 wine-paired courses prepared by some of Ottawa’s young culinary talent, a shuttle from Ottawa to Plantagenet (and return), and an opportunity to contribute to Shepherds helping vulnerable people in the community.
Tickets to what is promising to be a unique dining experience cost $175/person (with a $25 tax receipt).
What are you doing next Monday?
Where: Mariposa Farms (6488 County Road 17, Plantagenet).
Date: Monday, June 16, 2014
Time: 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Cost: $175/person (includes a $25 tax receipt)
Tags: featured, Flux, Hooch Bourbon House, Oz Kafe, Shepherds of Good Hope