“Welcome home” is how restaurateur Steve Beckta announced Chef Katie Brown Ardington‘s new position as Executive Chef of the Beckta trio of restaurants.
For the past 15 months, Brown Ardington has been a member — and, for a time, the only woman — of the elite CCC, Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, those who feed presidents, prime ministers and some royal households, in her role as personal chef to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
I must admit, as delighted as I was for Brown Ardington to have the chance to cook family suppers for the Trudeaus, and put Canada on the plate at state dinners, (and let’s not forget, to add a woman’s face to a group that’s overwhelmingly guy), I was also sad that her food would no longer be publicly accessible.
A Brockville native, and graduate of Algonquin College’s Culinary Management Program, I followed her career with pen, pride and pleasure. From cook at Beckta on Nepean Street, to sous chef at Beckta’s sibling restaurant, Play, to chef de cuisine at Play, before her promotion to the mother ship, Beckta Dining and Wine Bar at its new 150 Elgin address, as chef de cuisine.
During her maternity leave, she managed to submit recipes for my book Ottawa Cooks, two dishes, it seemed to me, that reflect her style and personality. “This dish,” she told me as it landed in my inbox (Lemon and Herb Risotto Soup) “offers everything I love to eat. It’s hearty but fresh, with lots of herbs and citrus. Plus I like anything with a poached egg and sharp cheese!” Her second recipe was for Peppermint Patties. “Perfect for a dinner party!” said Katie. She could have gone the big-time show-offy route, representing a restaurant like Beckta. But she chose dishes home cooks could manage, techniques they could master, and food that’s bright, playful and designed to give pleasure.
And what a pleasure to have her back in the public arena, now helming the team of chefs in the Beckta trio of restaurants—Beckta, Play and Gezellig. Brown Ardington replaces chef Michael Moffatt, who has joined the growing team at the growing Thyme & Again Creative Catering & Take Home Food.