ned bell

You might remember  Ned Bell from Food Network Canada’s Cook Like a ChefTrish Larkin certainly does :0)

True story … the summer before Trish decided to attend culinary school and don those lovely black and white checkered pants; she spent her days watching the Food Network.  One of the chefs that inspired her was Ned Bell … fast forward to Sunday, March 25th and the two of them are paired for Ottawa’s 2nd annual celebrity chefs of canada event.

Small world eh?

I had the opportunity to chat with Ned last week (he very generously spent an hour on the phone with me) … and I now know the  following things about him:

1.  He is one busy man … and I mean B-U-S-Y! 

2.  He’s passionate about the concept from farm / ocean to table … and takes it pretty seriously.

3.  He sure can talk … especially when asked about the upcoming halibut and spot prawn season.

4.  He is HUGELY excited about getting to Ottawa this weekend for celebrity chefs of canada.

Ned Bell’s career has taken him from the West coast to Toronto and Calgary and then back to the West Coast … leaving behind him a trail of successful restaurants (and a stint on television).  Currently he’s the man behind YEW Restaurant and Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver.

One would think that responding to a clientele that requests “eating and drinking locally”, in an operation that never stops (YEW is open 365 days a year), would be impossible.

Ned proves that it isn’t.

By sticking to his passion for local, season and sustainable food; Ned has continued to foster his relationships with regional suppliers (fruit and veg from the Okanagan, fish and shellfish from oganic ocean); always ensuring a fresh, vibrant, beautiful menu.  As he says, his food is “globally inspired and locally created.”

You’d also think that after a 12 hour day at work, Ned would be the first one to run home and relax.

To think that is to not know Ned.

Nope.

Ned is currently training for a marathon … he just purchased a road bike (great for cross training) … he’s also involved in Vancouver’s 18th annual dining out for life (March 29th), then an event with Lynn Crawford at YEW (March 31st): and finally he’ll be running his 6th marathon on May 6th … which he’ll follow with a flight to Kelowna in order to face-off against Top Chef Canada Season One winner Dale MacKay in an iron chef challenge.

Are you tired yet?

Not Ned.

His drive to promote local farmers has resulted in him founding feast of fields.  He’s also pretty darn enthusiastic about fish and shell fish.  Along with organic ocean, Ned has been working on his “tuna project” – his mission to can the best tuna that you can buy.

He’s also working closely with the guys at organic ocean in order to have this season’s first halibut landed in his restaurant.  Ned talks about halibut (and spot prawns … and oysters … and tuna … and scallops … and clams …) the same way most people talk about a decadent chocolate dessert.

I told you that Ned likes to talk :0)

Then I asked him about coming to Ottawa, working with Trish Larkin, and participating in celebrity chef of canada.

I could almost hear him smile as he talked about getting the opportunity to hang out and see his great friends Quang Dang (West Restaurant, Vancouver), Lynn Crawford (Ruby Watchco, Toronto) and Susur Lee (Lee, Toronto).

Ned genuinely can not wait to work with his peers; being presented with the opporunity to talk food, get inspired, learn new things, and build new friendships.

Trish Larkin  is one of those newly forged friendships .

Full of praise for her talent, Ned spoke warmly of the collaboration between the two chefs.  They’ve been able to put together a dish that will not only be simple and easy to make (for the everyday cook), but it’ll also be full of flavour, bright, and light.

Ned told me what they are making.

I’ve been debating sharing it with all of you … giving you a heads-up.

I’ve decided not to.

It’s going to stay a secret until Sunday.

Makes you want to come doesn’t it?  Tickets are still available.  Do it.  Click here and come spend Sunday afternoon with me and all of these great chefs.

trish larkin

Patricia Larkin is … pretty darn awesome.

I’d like to be completely honest with you …

I heart Trish.

I think she’s super talented.

She creates thoughtful, beautiful and delicious dishes.

Plus … she’s hilarious and witty (and has awesome hair).

And I’m thrilled that we’re friends.

There.  Now you know.  Trish and I are friends.

We’ve also been paired up for the upcoming celebrity chefs of canada event.

I’m over-the-moon excited.

Can’t you tell?

Trish graciously invited me over to the Black Cat Bistro last Wednesday to chat about the last six months,  changing the Black Cat’s menu, and collaborating with Ned Bell (of The Fours Seasons Hotel in Vancouver) for celebrity chefs of canada.

Trish seems to have erupted onto the Ottawa food scene in the last six months (although … talk to anyone who knows her and she’s been a force to be reckoned with for quite some time).

First she participated in Ottawa’s gold medal plates.  If you’ve ever been to gold medal plates you know that it’s mass food production at its finest.  Trish decided to take the opportunity to stretch herself by including a hot component to the dish; something that caused her slight heart palpitations … but paid off with a beautiful small plate of food:  scallop with a corn puree, accented with pancetta, green apples, pickled ramps, seedy mustard and a sweet littleturnip.

Then Anne DeBrisay’s reviewed the Black Cat and Trish in the Ottawa Citizen.  That review was … pretty spectacular.  In Trish’s words “it was such a glowing review … I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Shawna Wagman then listed the Black Cat Bistro as number one of the 10 best restaurants in the city for 2011 in Ottawa Magazine.

That’s a pretty awesome way to ring in the year.

With Tuesday Burgers more popular than ever (if you haven’t been … I highly recommend going for a burger – 8 oz of love … serious love); Trish and the Black Cat crew (she includes both kitchen and front of house as her crew) have discussed new, fun ways of mixing things up in the restaurant … lunch out the back door anyone? 

Trish has also started to change the menu … unapologetic about taking certain dishes off, she reminded me that her job is to bring new ideas and plates to the table.  And although she sometimes feels a little guilty about taking a much-loved dish off the menu (smoked and charred octopus), she still feels strongly about continuing to grow and explore new ideas and flavour combos.

When I asked her about the upcoming celebrity chefs of canada event, Trish coyly told me about her dish:

- I know that the protein is fish since they are sourcing it from organic ocean.

- I’m expecting bright flavours and raw things … both components Ned and Trish seem to favour.

- I’m expecting a tongue in cheek, visually stunning plate.

That’s it. 

Are you intrigued?  I sure as heck am!

Having talked food with Trish  … I couldn’t wait to return for dinner that night (much more fun to take pictures of food and then eat it all).

I sat down and basically told my server (Chris … always excellent service) that Trish could make me whatever she wanted.

I recommend you do this.

Mother of pearl. 

It was a food experience.

It started with maple glazed pork belly confit & a seared scallop with parsnip purée, beet greens, pickled ramps and truffle oil.

The meal could have ended there. I don’t know which I liked better … the pork belly or the scallop?  Actually the parsnip purée was a contender for best thing on the plate.  I basically licked it clean.  No lies.

Then Trish sent out the second course.

A dish of pan seared halibut with organic red quinoa, king eringii mushrooms, swiss chard, leeks, creme fraiche, meyer lemons and dehydrated capers.  It was a prefect bite … complete and balanced … and … so bloody good. 

Then I ordered the rocky road dessert (yeah … I saw that on the menu and knew I couldn’t go home without trying it).

dark chocolate, marshallow, oreo soil, caramel & banana almond ice cream.

That ice cream is ridiculous.  I have to admit … I was sharing the plate … and didn’t share equally (here’s my trick … I get the person talking … and my spoon swoops in and cleans the plate).  I’ve asked for the recipe because I MUST make this.

I can’t wait to see what Trish and Ned demo and plate for us on the 25th … because … if it’s anything like what I ate at the Black Cat Bistro … Ottawa, you are in for a real treat.

Tickets are still available … so don’t forget to get yours today.

must.love.chocolate

must. love. food. has a little friend.

it’s called must. love. chocolate.

I love Justin’s chocolate.

And after Tuesday night …  I know that Tood, John and Gabriela all love Justin’s chocolate too.

It’ll be your turn soon.

ps.  you can check out some “behind the scenes” pictures here.  Looks like we had some fun eh?