ms. charlotte

Charlotte is leaving Ottawa today.

It makes me sad :0(

Don’t get me wrong … I am so incredibly thrilled that she is going to a new place – new challenges, new adventures, lessons to be learned … all that great stuff that a move to a new city entails.

But it doesn’t mean I won’t miss walking into the whalesbone and seeing her.  Pestering her with all sorts of questions … having our monthly scheduled industry night dinner @ Oz Kafe … listening to her crazy stories … hearing her laugh … just enjoying her joie de vivre.

I’ve known Charlotte since she was 18 … she’d just moved to Ottawa and was ready to experience anything and everything.  She brought a sarcastic wit and wicked sense of humour to the house (6 roomies that summer in a house that really only had 4 bedrooms and 1 bathroom … with a mushroom growing out of the bathtub).  I can remember her attempting to bring order to our little backyard garden (it didn’t happen).  I can also remember when she decided she wanted to be a bread baker … early mornings learning to make fresh bread.  You should ask Charlotte to make you bread … it’s pretty awesome.

I’ve followed her adventures over the years … culinary school in Prince Edward Island … working in Vancouver … working in Niagara on the Lake … coming back to Ottawa and taking the food scene by storm.  I feel like a uber proud big sister.

But I have to say it’s in the last few years that we’ve become closer.  It started because we genuinely enjoyed hanging out together … and then obviously a shared passion in food … and then Charlotte did the nicest sweetest thing ever.  She invited me to stage at the whalesbone.  She wanted to offer me the chance to see what working in a restaurant would be like.  And then she took the time to show me how to do the simplest of things … because although I can bake up a storm, cleaning mushrooms for 4 hours isn’t something I’d done before (and fyi … wild mushrooms can get pretty dirty).

But since friends tend to forget to tell each other how much they mean to one another … I’d like to take this opportunity to let Charlotte know what she’s taught me …

I learned that you should never attempt to plate ice cream on 6 desserts until all the components are already on each dish.  Otherwise … you have to start all over.

I’ve learned that manicuring shallots takes a really sharp knife … but that I can do it.

I’ve learned that I probably shouldn’t be hanging out on the line in the middle of a Saturday night rush … trying to get a perfect picture.  Lucky for me … Charlotte still let me do it :0)

I’ve learned that I can do anything.  As Charlotte told me every single weekI might never have done something, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do it.  It just means I have to try … and practice.  But that I can do it.

Charlotte taught me to trust my instinct when I bake.  To just go with what I think tastes good … and she applauded every single thing I have ever made.  Seriously … she was always the first person to offer me praise for anything I brought in for her to sample or told her about.

This past year has been a super difficult year for me … it’s still a struggle … but in the beginning it felt unsurpassable.  Charlotte always asked me how I was doing; we started a ranking system.  We applauded when I got to a 6/10 … and when I was having a 3/10 day … Charlotte let me stand in the prep kitchen and just cry.

And finally … Charlotte taught me to give 100% to everything I do.  That every person that comes into the whalesbone deserves to get the same experience – the same beautiful plate, the same standard of flavours … I shouldn’t just scoop ice cream on a plate and think it’s ok … it needs to be perfect.  People deserve that.  People deserve our best.

I think I echo lots of sentiments when I say it’ll be strange to walk into the whalesbone and not see our fiesty chef with the short-shorts and a kiss for everyone … But I think every single one of us are so proud of our little Charlotte … for everything she has done … and everything that is to come.

I don’t know if Toronto is ready for Charlotte.  But I know that she is totally ready for Toronto.

So without further ado … good luck Charlotte (the harlot).  Don’t think this is the last you’ve heard of me … I’m gonna come and stage with you in Toronto :0)