City Bites

Chef Caroline Ishii hosts Friends of Zen pop-up dinner at Beechwood Gastropub

There are vegan restaurants on every corner now, but back when Chef Caroline Ishii launched Chinatown’s ZenKitchen restaurant (2009-2014) she was a pioneer. ZenKitchen kickstarted Ottawa’s acceptance of vegan cuisine as a fine-dining option, opening the way for other veg-friendly businesses.

Since Zen folded, Ishii has been all over the place — travelling, honing her craft and, most recently, travelling to Southeast Asia and Japan this past winter, where she signed a book deal with a Tokyo publisher to release a Canadian cookbook (it will be launched first in the Japanese market).

She’s back in town now and holding her pop-up dinners at Beechwood Gastropub — the first one, scheduled for October 1, sold out just a day or two after being announced, so Ishii is planning another for Oct. 15. Friends of Zen Dinner 2 is a chance to mingle, relive old times, enjoy a four-course dinner, and learn what the busy chef is up to next. Get your tickets here.

Date: Sunday, October 15

Time: 6 p.m. reception with hors-d’oeuvres and cash bar, 7 p.m. four-course vegan dinner with optional wine or beer pairing; 8:30pm “dessert and dialogue” with Caroline

Cost: $65 per person (add $35 per person for the optional wine or beer pairing)

City Bites Hot Tip: Ishii is a great talker and a compelling storyteller. Want to be prepared for the post-dinner convo? Check out her first book, The Accidental Chef,   ahead of the dinner. Part memoir, part cookbook, it chronicles her life journey from rebellious Japanese-Canadian schoolgirl to celebrated vegan chef. Each chapter relates a pivotal moment in that voyage and ends with a recipe.