I had the opportunity last Monday to go for lunch with the lovely Lynne Frappier of The Twisted Chef blog, one of the bloggers involved with Celebrity Chefs of Canada. It was great to catch up with her, and of course to share our excitement over this event (also to talk about her appearance on CTV this week).
We met up at Vittoria Trattoria in the Byward Market. The restaurant owned by one the Chefs I am paired with for the event, Cesare Santaguida. Its a beauty of a spot. White table linen (personal fave), dark wood, outstanding bar and prestigious wine list. It was a delicious, long lunch, filled with all my favourites, not to mention the attentive and enthusiastic staff. What a pleasure for a Monday afternoon.
Grappa Steamed Mussels
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
Chef Cesare Santaguida
Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with Chef Santaguida, to ask him a few questions and discuss the event March 25th. He is paired with Chef Vikram Vij from Vancouver’s Vij’s, a Chef I have long adored, I found out Chef Santaguida is also a fan of Vij.
We started off the conversation by talking about his Grandmother, his inspiration for cooking. I could tell by the sound of his voice, the way his eyes lit up when he spoke of her what she meant to him. She actually worked in the kitchen of the old Vittoria on Bank St. for half days (sometimes the whole day) until they moved to the Byward Market. Sadly, she passed away just last month at age 100.
How long have you been in the business?
Before having the restaurant (20 years), I have always worked in the restaurant business, all Italian. I started by chopping vegetables in my Grandmother’s kitchen when I was a child. We have been at the Market location for 16 years and we have our other location on Riverside.
I know your Grandmother was a big inspiration to you, what other people or things inspire you?
I am inspired all the time. A walk through the Market on my way here and all the vendors produce inspire me. I am inspired by my Fathers garden. My Father will bring by peppers, or basil or whatever he has picked fresh from his garden that day.
What is your favourite menu item here, or what do you order most frequently?
I love the Margherita Pizza. I eat that all of the time.
What is your favourite guilty pleasure food?
Junk food. I am huge fan of junk food. Oh and burgers and fries.
When you sit down with your family to eat a meal, whats on the table?
Pasta and a meat dish, always pasta. In the winter months my Mother puts pasta in soup.
Do you have a favourite Ottawa restaurant?
I have lots, but the one that comes to mind first is Atelier, its a special place, and a great experience.
Last year I noticed your whole family attended the event? Do you expect the same this year?
Yes, in fact last year my parents weren’t even supposed to attend but arrived in town last minute and were able to come. yes they will be there.
We had the opportunity to talk about a number of things, his partnership at this same event last year with David Rocco, his favourite NYC restaurants and his up coming trip to cook at a food event in Rome, just making it home in time for Celebrity Chefs of Canada.
I am looking forward to seeing what this team has in store for us. Last year we were blown away by Chef Santaguida’s scallops cooked on a Dean and Deluca salt block.
My time with Chef Santaguida just further confirmed for me what a fabulous and exciting food community we have. Celebrity Chefs of Canada is a must attend. I am also thinking Chef Santaguida is going to have a little angel cooking right along side of him.
For ticket info visit Celebrity Chefs of Canada.