Eating & Drinking

An insider’s guide to Canada’s Great Kitchen Party

Canada’s Great Kitchen Party competition on Nov. 19 is a boutique cocktail party for guests to sample the fare of eight local restaurants at the historic Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa. For the eight participating chefs, it’s a high-stakes evening of prepping and plating.

Similar events will be held in 11 other cities to crown a top chef in each.

The victor in each competition earns bragging rights — and the chance to compete in Ottawa as the capital hosts an intense two-day showdown on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, featuring the winners from across the country.

(Left) The Les Fougeres team at the qualifiers in 2018.
(Right) Daniela Manrique, Yannick LaSalle, and Jason Sawision made it to the podium of the 2018 Ottawa qualifiers.

As the host city, one ticket gets you access to both the Ottawa qualifiers on Nov. 19 and the national championships in early 2020.

Feel good as you chow down — Canada’s Great Kitchen Party raises funds for B2ten, which helps to fund amateur sports; MusiCounts, which supports music education for kids; and Community Food Centres Canada.

Yannick LaSalle competes in the 2019 championships. Photo by Ben Champoux

Here’s an Ottawa Magazine insider’s guide to this year’s stellar lineup of eight competing chefs:

Shane Brown of Beckta: With Stephen Beckta managing the show, Beckta has attracted and trained a who’s who of award-winning chefs over the years. This time around it’s top contender Shane Brown jumping into the ring.

Ian Carswell of Black Tartan Kitchen: Ottawa’s loss was Carleton Place’s gain when Ian Carswell left the city to launch Black Tartan Kitchen. He garnered a following during previous gigs at Absinthe and the National Gallery of Canada.

Justin Champagne of Bar Lupulus: Bar Lupulus was singled out by Ottawa Magazine as one of the capital’s best new restaurants, a credit to Justin Champagne and his execution of fine-dining-meets-gastropub fare.

Billy Khoo of Fauna: In partnership with Jon Svazas, Billy Khoo has kept fauna top of mind for adventurous Ottawa eaters, with a menu known for its creatively cool small plates and neat raw recipes.

Ben Landreville of Sidedoor: He has learned from the best — Steve Wall of Supply and Demand and Jonathan Korecki of Sidedoor. Now the Orleans native is ready for top billing.

Daniela Manrique of Soca at last year’s Ottawa qualifiers

Daniela Manrique of Soca: A seasoned veteran of the competition (she placed second in 2018), Manrique will be gunning for top spot this year.

Razmon Poisson of Orto Trattoria: He quickly made a name for himself after being promoted to the top position at Orto last fall. Now Poisson looks to cement his position as a top chef in the capital.

Jason Sawision of Stofa: An acolyte of two-time Canadian Culinary Championships winner Marc Lepine of Atelier, Stofa’s Jason Sawision is at the top of his game. His restaurant is also on Ottawa Magazine’s Top 10 New Restaurants list.

Date: qualifiers Nov. 19; championships Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

Find it: Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, 453 Laurier Ave. E.

Hot Tip: Do your homework. Get to know your chefs by dining out at their restaurants ahead of the competition. Bookings always skyrocket after the hype of the Kitchen Party, so eat well before the rush.