• By: Ali Matthews

Ottawa Cooks Add New Twist to the Holiday Dinner Party

decal18Welcome to Day 18 of our
25 Day Ottawa Life
Christmas Calendar

We’ll be updating with a
new treat daily so be sure
to keep checking under the
OLM Tree to see what’s new.

It seems like wherever you go in this city you will run into a copy of the new cookbook Ottawa Cooks. Beside a cash register, near a tip jar, leaning against a display or being leafed through by curious customers.

Written by, formerly anonymous and celebrated Ottawa restaurant critic, Anne DesBrisay, Ottawa Cooks is more than a restaurant guide. This collection of recipes from 41 of the National Capital Region’s top chefs serves as both an invitation to get to know our local talent, but also all the steps and tips you need to recreate some of our favourite dishes at home. After all, it is called Ottawa Cooks, not Ottawa Eats.

As a city that celebrates our best and brightest with the same energy as a small town, it should be no surprise that Ottawa Cooks Dinner Parties are now a thing.

ottawa-cooks-apple-beer-soup-prepWith the holiday party season in full swing, Ottawa Cooks Dinner Parties are even proving to be fun and festive alternative to the old Christmas cocktail. After all, what embodies the Christmas spirit more than great food, company and conversation? I recently attended one this weekend and the results were amazing.

The rules are simple. You get about 4 couples together with each endeavouring to make one (or two) recipes from Ottawa Cooks and then bring it all together at the host’s home for a one-of-a-kind tasting menu. Add some splashes of red, green and gold to the table scape, and you have the perfect holiday gathering.

The results of our evening were better than anyone’s expectations. Our amateur chefs successfully tackled dishes from 6 restaurants across the city, each with varying levels of difficulty.


As we plated each part of the meal, our couples once again reached for Ottawa Cooks to describe their dish Top Chef style before digging in. As a spotlight on all things local, we made sure to include some local micro brews to compliment the meal, especially since at least two of our recipes had local beer as a key ingredient.

ottawa-cooks-brisket-and-cauliflowerBeyond the tasting, it should be no surprise that the food heavily influenced the conversation. Throughout the meal we talked about our process for each dish, the Ottawa restaurant scene, our favourite meals, and some important lessons learned – like the most efficient way to massage your kale, to check for marinating time before the day-of, and, most importantly, to not expect any leftovers.

Want to host your own party, but don’t have a copy of Ottawa Cooks? Well you’re in luck! Anne DesBrisay has donated three signed copies of Ottawa Cooks to us for you to get cooking!

One has already be claimed in our Light Up Your Ottawa Life Contest but keep an eye out in the coming weeks when we give away the others.

Our Ottawa Cooks Tasting Menu:

Fall Apple and Beer Soup with Chantrelles and Bonnechere

ottawa-cooks-kale-saladKale Salad with Caper Vinaigrette, Crotonese and Bacon
Supply & Demand

Smoked Buffalo Mozzarella and White Corn Polenta with Confit Cherry Tomatoes
Le café at the National Arts Centre

Beau’s Beer-Braised Brisket with Seasonal Vegetables
Beau’s All Natural Brewing

Roasted Cauliflower, Two Ways (one way)
The Albion Room

Apple-Walnut Butter Tarts
The Village House