Long hours in a hot, challenging environment working with ever-changing variables including food supplies and finicky diners – these are people who really deserve their downtime. So what do four of Ottawa’s top up-and-coming chefs (and their culinary partners in crime) do every few weeks on their day off? They cook up a storm for charity, naturally.
The Flux series of dinners was conceived by Hooch Bourbon House’s Danny Mongeon, with the support of Ian Reed (Courtyard Restaurant), Stephen LaSalle (The Albion Rooms), Kyle Mortimer-Proulx (Lowertown Brewery) and Hooch’s Adam Bannerman, along with expert supporting talent. Billed as ‘food inspired by nature’, the dinners are a tribute to the field-to-fork philosophy that celebrates the hard working farmers who give chefs and home cooks alike such excellent raw materials to play with.
After Flux 1 at Mariposa Farms in June and Flux 2 at Rideau Pines Farm in July, it was with great excitement that the Flux team went on a road trip to Prince Edward County this past weekend, landing on August 4, 2014 at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery.
Owner and winemaker Caroline Granger, who has spent over a decade transforming her family’s farm into one of The County’s most respected wineries, welcomed almost two dozen diners to her gorgeous early-1800s barn for a ten course extravaganza that featured not only exquisite cuisine inspired by the region but also perfectly-paired selections from her winery. Just like the food served at Flux, all her products are field-to-table, made with grapes grown on her extensive property.
The Flux dinners offer participating chefs a unique opportunity to interpret ingredients in ways that may deviate somewhat from the culinary style typically served at their restaurants. As a result, diners at these special events are the lucky recipients of inventive, creative approaches to the freshest of locally-sourced foods. At this week’s event, a succession of exquisitely-composed, beautifully-plated dishes elicited rave reviews from those in attendance. Having each chef explain his creation, followed by a message from Caroline about why she chose the corresponding wine, enhanced the spirit and enjoyment of the evening.
Each Flux dinner also has a charitable component; in this case, funds were raised to support the important work of Slow Food The County, a vibrant organization that both celebrates and advocates for sustainable, local food.
When we finally strolled out of The Grange, fully sated after a night of convivial feasting, it was an added bonus to see a shrouded moon and hear howling coyotes off in the distance. Prince Edward County is a magical place well worth visiting and all the more so when some of Ottawa’s finest chefs put on a delicious show.
The next Flux dinner will be held in late September; stay tuned to Facebook and Twitter for details! You won’t want to miss it.
Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.
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