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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chef Michael Smith in Ottawa

Good morning my O'Valleyers,

Last night was among my "top coolest things I have ever done in my life"! To some people, it may sound lame, to my fellow foodies... they would be more than jealous.

I attended the Ottawa Writers Festival- Chef Michael Smith's Kitchen with Michael Smith. What an experience if you are a huge fan.

I couldn't find anyone to go with me, so I went early to find out more about the event and purchased my ticket on site. $25 to get in, $10 for 2 wine tickets, $33 for his new cookbook.

I paired up with a nice lady that I met, who was also alone. It turns out that she is practically my neighbour! Ottawa is a small world!

So, because we are both early, we get amazing front row seats (by the mic and by the signing table). We each bought the new Michael Smith cookbook, so we can get it signed at the end of the night. And we did!

The host was trying to ask typical "Food Star" questions, but it was quite obvious that Chef Michael Smith had his own (anti-Food Network) Agenda. His "Jamie Oliver" like passion about locally grown food and nutrition literacy (he called it) was the topic for the night. He avoided answering gimmicky questions about his favorite meal or what he would whip up with lacking ingredients from the host's fridge. He focused on the irony of his cookbook, because he teaches us the importance of how to cook without a recipe. He talked about the importance and innate human behaviour of "gathering, preparing and sharing" food. His focus was about "who is at the table, not what is on the table". Lastly, he delivered his "Soap box" speech about the importance of knowing where your food comes from, knowing who has provided you with the food and supporting local farmers so you can tell the story behind the food you prepared. He had strong views, passionate arguments and touching stories. All in all a fabulous conversation!

The night ended with me asking a question about " We see chefs frying with olive oil, what is your stance?" The answer was clear, don't use your good olive oil to fry with, get a cheap one that is not cold press because you lose the quality when it burns.

I got my cookbook signed and tasted the local wine (Yummy shiraz from Navan!) and indulged in the appetizers prepared from his cookbook.

For more information about the Ottawa Writers Festival, click here.

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