Six chef-testants will cook off in September for a chance to represent Ottawa at the 2024 Canadian Culinary Championship next February.
Returning for another shot to become the Ottawa representative at the national event are chefs Éric Chagnon-Zimmerly of North & Navy in Centretown and Justin Champagne-Lagarde of Perch on Preston Street.
At the 2022 qualifier, Chagnon-Zimmerly came in second, while Champagne-Lagarde came in third. Chef Briana Kim of Alice won the qualifier and then won this year’s Canadian Culinary Championship, held in Ottawa last February.
Alice, North & Navy and Perch were among the eight Ottawa restaurants that made the 2023 Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants list. Alice was ranked 31st, while Perch ranked 88th and North & Navy came in 96th. As well, Perch ranked fourth on the most recent enRoute magazine list of Canada’s best new restaurants.
At the Sept. 21 event at the Fairmont Château Laurier, there will also be four chefs who are competing for the first time at the Ottawa qualifier. They include Alex Bimm of Le Poisson Bleu in Chinatown, Raghav Chaudhary of Aiana Restaurant Collective in the Sun Life Financial Centre, Khalid Farchoukhto of Carben Food + Drink in Hintonburg and Kristine Hartling of Oz Kafe in the ByWard Market.
The Sept. 21 event is known as the Ottawa edition of Canada’s Great Kitchen Party. It is the successor to the competition that was called Gold Medal Plates, which raised funds for Canada’s Olympians. The upcoming Ottawa event and national championship support the Canadian organizations MusiCounts, a music education charity, and Spirit North, a charity empowering Indigenous youth through sport.
Just 200 tickets will be made available to allow the public to taste dishes by the competitors at the Sept. 21 event. (Judges, not the public, will determine the event’s winner.) Inquiries can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to Kim, the Ottawa area has had two other chefs prevail at past national championships. Marc Lepine of Atelier won the 2012 and 2016 Canadian Culinary Championships. Chef Yannick La Salle, formerly of Les Fougères in Chelsea but now the chef for the Supreme Court of Canada’s chef, won the national competition in 2019. Their four wins make Ottawa the top scorer among cities and regions participating in the national competition program.
On July 25, Lepine, Kim and La Salle are joining forces with Canadian chefs Keith Pears, Christophe Sportellini and Olivier Potier to cook a dinner at Atelier on Rochester Street that will raise funds to send Pears to the international Bocuse d’Or competition and Sportellini and Potier to the World Pastry Cup. The cost for this rarefied meal is $275, which includes the service charge. Tickets are available at atelier.tickit.ca.