It is a tale of remarkable generosity. And it began in Ottawa in 2011, the year Marc Lepine won gold (the first time round) at Gold Medal Plates. Other cities have tried to copy the model, to start their own version, but none with anything like the organizational wizardry and big heartedness of our city. It’s called Chefs’ Takeover, and this is its fifth anniversary.
“This is proof,” wrote Lepine as he prepared to head to Kelowna in 2012, “that Ottawa is by far the coolest city to be a chef.”
I’ll let Marc explain with some small edits from me:
“In order to compete in the Canadian Culinary Championship,” he explained, “we have to be away (a long weekend in) February. This means closing the restaurant over those dates, as we just don’t have the staff to compete and operate Atelier at the same time. Upon learning this, Chef Matt Carmichael from restaurant 18 (now from El Camino and Datsun) proposed that he and a handful of chefs put on a dinner here while we’re away. And then a handful of chefs became 22 of Ottawa’s best, and one dinner became three … This chefs’ line-up almost makes me want to stay home to eat that weekend.”
Well, it was a very fine thing he didn’t stay home. As you likely know, Marc Lepine went on to the national level and blew the competition out of the kitchen. He won it handily.
So that was in 2012. This year, déjà vu! Lepine, having sat out (as the rules say the national champ must) more than the required three years, wowed us again at GMP last November. And like all traditions, this one has an established rhythm.
This year’s chefs’ takeover of Atelier is organized by last year’s winner of Gold Medal Plates. So that would be Pat Garland, of Absinthe Café and he’s just announced the magnificent lineup of chefs who get to play at Marc’s place while Marc’s making us all proud in Kelowna this February:
Friday, February 5th (during the Mystery Wine Pairing Competition in Kelowna)
Jason Duffy, Delta Ottawa
Briana Kim, Café My House
Michael Holland, Holland’s Cake and Shake
John Morris, NAC
Stephen Lasalle, The Albion Rooms
Robert Pendergast, a chef buddy of Marc Lepine’s visiting from PEI
Saturday, February 6th (after Lepine has polished up the Black Box Competition and is working on his dish for the Grand Finale)
Jean Claude Chartrand, L’Orée du Bois
Jordan Holley, Datsun
Joe Thottungal, Coconut Lagoon (and bronze medallist, GMP 2015)
Jon Szavas, Fauna (and silver medallist, GMP 2015)
Trisha Donaldson, Ace Mercado
Reservations will go like wildfire! Start times both nights will be 6 p.m. with at least six courses of eclectic food and wine. Cost is $100 with $50 from each ticket going to charity. Schedules may change and chefs may be added, so call Atelier for full details: 613-321-3537