Hot cuisine: Abundant local farms create high foodie expectations
Ottawa restaurateurs know customers 'want to taste Ottawa,' food critic says
The abundance of local farms and farmers markets have created an educated group of eaters in Ottawa, forcing local restaurants to try new recipes with new technology as they search for their next masterpiece, according to local food critic Anne DesBrisay.
As a result, DesBrisay adds that Ottawa is becoming a vibrant food destination.
- WATCH | Reporter Sandra Abma examines the farming industry's impact on local restaurants tonight on CBC News at 5.
- For more on CBC Ottawa's four-part series chronicling Ottawa's restaurant industry, click here.
"We in Ottawa have more agriculture, more working farms, more greenhouses than Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton combined," she says. "And the ease with which producers and chefs can have chats and access to each other is pretty remarkable in this city, as well."
DesBrisay says the abundance of local food at numerous farmers markets has fostered higher expectations not only critics such herself, but among consumers as well.
Each new restaurant is challenged to take on local food in new and unique ways.
"Ottawa diners know what’s out there, they’re smart. So when they come to restaurants they want to taste Ottawa," DesBrisay says. "And chefs are giving us Ottawa on plates. It’s not Montreal, it’s not Toronto, it’s Ottawa."
Food laboratory features new toys for new recipes
When eaters expect more, chefs need to dig deep into a new bag of tricks. Marc Lepine, chef and owner of Atelier, says modern technology helps him create new plates.
"We like to play with toys basically," he says. "We wanted to work with just fun equipment that allows us to produce fun food."
When it comes to the food, Lepine says it's all locally grown organic produce, as well as herbs he harvests daily from a garden behind the restaurant.
That mentality of growing his own food is also shared by several restaurants in Ottawa. Bread made in-house has become one of the most common local restaurant features.
It's something consumers now expect from a growing and competitive restaurant industry in the capital.
This is the second in CBC reporter Sandra Abma's four-part series on Ottawa's changing restaurant scene, called Hot cuisine. Join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #hotcuisine, and let us know what you think of the city's food industry.
- Part 1 | On Wednesday, we looked at how Ottawa's tight-knit community of chefs has helped bolster the local food and restaurant scene.
- Part 3 | Coming up on Friday, we look into how much noise is acceptable in restaurants.
- Part 4 | And coming up on Saturday, how does social media play a role in the restaurant business?