Ottawa's top chefs share their secrets in locally-inspired cookbook
Metro Ottawa spoke to three chefs featured in the book to find out what it was like and why they chose the recipes they included.
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If you consider yourself an Ottawa food aficionado, now's your chance to try out a few of your favourite restaurant recipes in your own kitchen. If they don't work out, there's always a backup plan: chances are you live pretty close to one of the 41 local eateries featured in Ottawa Cooks.
The new cookbook is hot off the press and includes 82 recipes of varying skill levels from the city's best chefs, all compiled together by local food and travel writer Anne DesBrisay and photographer Christian Lalonde.
The hardbound book is published by Figure 1 Publishing and can be bought in any of the restaurants featured in the book. It will be officially available in bookstores September 6.
Metro Ottawa spoke to three chefs featured in the book to find out what it was like and why they chose the recipes they included:
1. West de Castro, Clover
“Recording a recipe for a home cook is completely different than writing it for other cooks. We work on instinct and to quantify and record everything – it was really, really fun,” said West de Castro, chef at Clover at 155 Bank Street.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into making a cookbook and I’m glad I only had to do two recipes for it,” she added.
De Castro included two recipes for the book, including a hearty-looking vegan dish: roasted brassicas with white bean purée and almond “brown butter.” The sauce doesn’t contain any butter, but recreates the richness with ground almonds and olive oil.
“At the time it was the most cohesive and balanced dish that I’ve created and it definitely represents the kind of cooking I do,” said de Castro.
2. Ben Baird, Ottawa STREAT Gourmet
“It’s a star-studded book and it’s an honour to be a part of it,” said Ben Baird, who contributed the recipe for pulled pork fritters and tuna tostadas. “Ottawa’s a pretty tight knit community in the culinary scene and I know most people in the book for sure.”
“I’ve been approached to do this kind of thing before and not taken it too seriously, but when it was Anne DesBrisay involved, well, you can’t say no to Anne. I knew it would be a good book if she was behind it,”
Baird, who runs the Ottawa STREAT Gourmet truck at Albert and O’Connor with Elyse Pion, has two recipes in the book. He said they tried to choose recipes that were fun, fairly easy and flexible – both can double as a main course or an appetizer to serve a crowd.
3. Marc Lepine, Atelier
For Marc Lepine – who specializes in dishes that would be possible to create at home – finding recipes to include in a cookbook for amateurs in the kitchen was a challenge.
“We make things you’d never make at home,” he said. “There’s so many tools we use, so much equipment that goes into making the dishes – liquid nitrogen is involved in a lot of recipes. Ingredients too, speciality sugars that you might not be able to get.”
Instead Lepine focused on colour and presentation. One of the two dishes in the book is the "Pomelo Anderson," a colourful and thoughtful plate that includes tuna, smoked avocado and a sake-soy gel sheet. It’s not for the faint of heart, but you can always visit Lepine’s Atelier at 540 Rochester Street to get some inspiration.