Chef Bites earns $10,000 to help displaced victims in restaurant industry

Chef Bites earns $10,000 to help displaced victims in restaurant industry

Ottawa Restaurant Fund to help displaced wait staff, cooks and others in financial distress

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DEC 18 14 – 1:45 PM — Chefs chalked up an amazing $10,000 Tuesday night at the first (of what may be many) charity fundraising dinners to help those who have fallen on hard times in the hospitality industry.

logoSixty tickets were sold out at $125 each (a $90 charitable tax receipt was given).

Called Chef Bites, the fundraiser at Sante restaurant on Rideau Street was the brainchild of Caroline Ishii, formerly of ZenKitchen vegan restaurant, and Donna Holton, owner of the host restaurant and Holtz Spa.

“It was truly amazing all around!” Ishii said.

“I am thrilled by the incredible community spirit around Chef Bites, the new Ottawa Restaurant Fund, and I’m in awe of the talent and generosity of the chefs.

“In one night we raised over $10,000 and guests were asking to be put on the mailing list for the next event. I also have chefs lining up for the next one,” she said.

Top, chefs Marc Lepine of Atelier and Chris Deraiche of Wellington Gastropub. Bottom, assembly behind the scenes in the galley kitchen at Sante

Top, chefs Marc Lepine of Atelier and Chris Deraiche of Wellington Gastropub. Bottom, assembly behind the scenes in the galley kitchen at Sante

Largest single fundraising item was $3,000 paid at auction for chefs Marc Lepine, Matthew Carmichael, Marc Doiron, Caroline Ishii and Steve Mitton to prepare dinner for 10 at the donor’s home.

Anyone who’s even casually interested in the local food scene knows restaurants have been suffering with some pretty big names closing this year. It’s pretty much assumed there will be more spectacular collapses in 2015, some victims of a local economy in the pits, others because they’ve simply priced themselves out of an overstocked market that will not sustain – not in any big numbers, anyway – plates priced at over $40 for mains.

The same thing is happening with a series of high-profile restaurant closings in Montreal, so Ottawa is by no means unique.

Above right, chef Ross Fraser of Fraser Cafe plates bites of side stripe shrimp

Above right, chef Ross Fraser of Fraser Cafe plates bites of side stripe shrimp

Sadly, the ordinary men and women who work for wages pay a high price – especially if they’re stiffed for a paycheque (or a few) because the employer has been running on fumes. So Ishii and Holtom created a fund with the Ottawa Community Foundation to assist displaced restaurant employees with creative solutions like “micro loans” for emergency assistance and educational upgrades that go beyond just handouts.

Participating chefs this time around included Marc Lepine (Atelier restaurant), Scott Adams (Benny’s Bistro), Matthew Carmichael (El Camino), Jason Laurin (Essence Catering), Ross Fraser (Fraser Café), Steve Mitton (Murray Street), Marc Doiron (Town), Chris Deraiche (Wellington Gastropub), Caroline Ishii (co-founder, former ZenKitchen).

Sponsors of the evening include Banfield, Sante restaurant, Trius Winery, Pondview Estate Winery, Broadhead Brewing Co., and Beyond the Pale Brewing Co. Mini cheesecakes at the end were from Eden Cheesecake Co.

Clockwise from top left, tofu pocket -- called inarishushi -- appetizer by chef Caroline Ishii of bamboo, mushroom, rice, tied with squash ribbon served with daikon pickle, green bean with sesame miso dressing. Right from chef Jason Laurin of Essence Catering, gorgonzola arancini, braised beef short rib, fennel candy, roast tomato sauce. Bottom from chef Ross Fraser of Fraser Cafe, side shrimp with fenugreek, chick peas, chilies, poppadum, cilantro

Clockwise from top left, tofu pocket — called inarishushi — appetizer by chef Caroline Ishii stuffed with bamboo, mushroom, rice, tied with squash ribbon and served with daikon pickle, green bean with sesame miso dressing. Right from chef Jason Laurin of Essence Catering, gorgonzola arancini, braised beef short rib, fennel candy, roast tomato sauce. Bottom from chef Ross Fraser of Fraser Cafe, side shrimp with fenugreek, chick peas, chilies, poppadum, cilantro

Left by chef Marc Lepine of Atelier, crispy carrot tuile with lemongrass crumbl, coconut gell and curry pearls (top) and chicken liver mousse on puffed cranberry cracker, pistachio, hidden rose apple (below). Top right, from chef Cris Deraiche of Wellington Gastropub, profiterole stuffed with chicken liver mousse, quince preserve, almonds. Bottom by chef Matt Carmichael of El Camino, crispy tuna taco tartare with iceberg lettuce, sesame dressing, Queso cheese, pickled ginger

Left by chef Marc Lepine of Atelier, crispy carrot tuile with lemongrass crumble, coconut gell and curry pearls (top) and chicken liver mousse on puffed cranberry cracker, pistachio, hidden rose apple (below). Top right, from chef Cris Deraiche of Wellington Gastropub, profiterole stuffed with chicken liver mousse, quince preserve, almonds. Bottom by chef Matt Carmichael of El Camino, crispy tuna taco tartare with iceberg lettuce, sesame dressing, Queso cheese, pickled ginger, chives

Top by chef Scott Adams of Benny's Bistro, Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) with smoked goose liver, sweet soy-cider braised pork belly, pickled vegetables. Bottom right by chef Steve Mitton of Murray Street Kitchen, homemade cracker with rabbit terrine, smoked duck breast, Tomme du Haute Richelieu semi-soft cheese, cumberland sauce, pickled daikon. Bottom right dessert by chef Mar Doiron of Town restaurant, banana bread, passion fruit mousse, llightly smoked and candied pecan, pomegranate, with chocolate/caramel "Rolo" piece

Top by chef Scott Adams of Benny’s Bistro, Bahn Mi (Vietnamese sandwich) with smoked goose liver, sweet soy-cider braised pork belly, pickled vegetables, cilantro, radish. Bottom left by chef Steve Mitton of Murray Street Kitchen, charcuterie on homemade cracker with rabbit terrine, smoked duck breast, Tomme du Haute Richelieu semi-soft cheese, cumberland sauce, Mrs. McGarrigle mustard, pickled daikon. Bottom right dessert by chef Marc Doiron of Town restaurant, banana bread, passion fruit mousse, lightly smoked and candied pecan, pomegranate, with chocolate/caramel “Rolo” piece

Left, chefs Matt Carmichael and Chris Deraiche. Right, even I was allowed to volunteer, with organizer chef Caroline Ishii

Left, chefs Matt Carmichael and Chris Deraiche. Right, even I was allowed to volunteer, with organizer chef Caroline Ishii

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