City Bites

City Bites Insider: Ottawa chefs as you’ve never seen them

Above: Chef at play. Photographer Lindsey Gibeau grabbed this lighthearted shot of Sidedoor chef Jonathan Korecki

It’s an 18-month calendar for the food-obsessed, raising money for a great cause and a daily reminder to eat out and support local. The Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation lined up a dream team of seven professional photographers to shoot the high-end calendar that runs from July 2016 to December 2017. The 20 participating chefs run the gamut from Top Chef Canada winner Rene Rodriguez to raw foods pro Natasha Kyssa and from haute hotel executive chef Stephen La Salle to food truck owner Ben Baird.

Bonus: The $25 calendar also includes some delectable recipes from local food guru Margaret Dickenson. City Bites Insider caught up with Shepherds of Good Hope interim director Micah Garten for the inside scoop on the 18-month keepsake.

Marc Lepine - Jessica Deeks
Marc Lepine of Atelier, photographed by Jessica Deeks, is known for his hypermodern culinary techniques

How did the calendar idea come about?

A couple of the chefs who are involved with our annual Taste For Hope fundraiser were once community members or homeless in other cities. They came up with the idea, then got other chefs onboard, then got in touch with Robin Duetta, who knows just about everyone involved in food in the city. When they contacted Shepherds of Good Hope, they told us ‘We have a great idea that’s not going to cost you anything and will make you money!’

So the chefs featured in the calendar are mostly people you know from Taste for Hope?

Yes, most of the calendar chefs had participated in the event this year or last year. But Robin [Duetta] is very plugged in to the food community, so he just ran with the idea and brought others on board. He had ideas for chefs he thought would have fun with the project.

Patricia Larkin - Valerie Keeler
This shot by Valerie Keeler highlights chef Patricia Larkin’s latest food endeavour — beekeeping

Chefs have such crazy schedules. Did it take long to get everyone photographed?

Things always take longer than you think! Things got started in the summer of 2015, and all the shots were finished by the end of the year.

Why an 18-month calendar rather than the usual 12?

We had so many people willing to be a part of the calendar that we thought why not include the bonus months.

Chefs and photographers are both very creative. How did they work together?

We knew the photos would be great, but what’s even more special with these portraits is that they have real context. You can tell that the photographers got to know the chefs and together they came up with shots that tell a story — they tell you something about the chefs’ personalities.

Michael Radford - Shane_Francescut
Chef Michael Radford of Elmdale Oyster House combining two things he loves best — shucking oysters and DJing. Photograph by Shane Francescut

For example?

The shot of Michael Radford [executive head chef at Whalesbone Oyster House /Elmdale Oyster House & Tavern]. He’s known for shucking oysters, so you see him doing that in the shot. But he also loves to DJ, so the photographer has set up the photo to show him shucking on a turntable.

And Patricia Larkin [who has recently begun raising bees] is photographed with a hive in the background. And she has this honeycomb makeup on the side of her face that also points to this idea.

I hope that the pictures spark conversations with the chefs — many of them show different sides of the chefs that people might not know about.

Do you have a favourite?

That’s a tough one. I plead the fifth! Every time I look through the calendar I find something new to love. So much thought went into it and you can tell that both the photographers and the chefs spent a lot of time thinking about what they were going to do and how to make it look so good.

As a bonus, well-known cookbook author Margaret Dickenson and her husband, Larry, have provided six very delicious looking recipes.

The Dickensons have been supporters for a long time. When people found out we were doing this calendar, they started asking if we’d include some recipes. We thought about asking the chefs, but then Robin [Duetta] suggested asking Margaret Dickenson. She’s a well-known food expert in her own right and brings a different element to the story — plus Larry has been taking photos of her food for years.

Danny Mongeon - Justin VanLeeuwen
Photographer Justin Van Leeuwen got this shot of chef Danny Mongeon when he stepped away from the photoshoot (inside the motel) for a quick smoke break

How much money do you hope to raise?

Our sponsors covered the printing costs, so if every calendar is sold we will raise $60,000.

What does that mean for Shepherds of Good Hope?

It’s huge! $60,000 translates into tens of thousands of meals, hours of counselling services for people fleeing physical abuse or trying to overcome addiction, an expanded dorm workers program. … It means we’ll be able to fund thousands of life-changing things.

Where can people buy it?

We’re selling it online. Shepherds of Good Hope runs a woodworking program called Good Day Workshop, so members will sell it at any pop-up fairs they participate in. We’re also in talks with restaurants and stores to carry some.

Ben Baird - Jessica Deeks
Ben Baird, photographed by Jessica Deeks, sits atop Ottawa Streat Gourmet, his popular food-truck