This Saturday, the inaugural Taboo Eats will give 18 non-chefs the chance to prove their culinary might. Each of the participants will create a signature dish to present to the public, who will vote on the best pick. With names like ‘Egg Roll Taco with Hoisin Glazed Duck Breast’ or ‘Drunken Mexican Fisherman in France’, the foods on offer promise to be original. This is in line with Organizer Donna Henhoeffer’s vision to give home cooks and non-chef food professionals a chance to get out from the shadow of chefs and share in the food-loving public’s attention.
“Knowing that there are so many great cooks out there — cooking and feeding their families daily, throwing parties and/or are ‘closet’ food creators/artists — I felt they just needed an outlet for exposure. There aren’t places where you can bring your great recipe and try to get public feedback on the item/dish . . . People often have biased friends telling them things are good. Food is everywhere and there needed to be an outlet to allow those that don’t have restaurants to get some recognition.”
The winner will not only get eternal glory, but also the possibility to compete against foodies in other Ontario cities. Henhoeffer, who worked for 17 years in the food industry as a ‘non-chef’ hopes to expand the competition beyond Ottawa to other Ontario towns waking up to new and innovative food “experiences” that have taken off in those places.
“Living in Toronto, one is exposed to so many unique events, and pop up dining is prevalent as is the push towards street food dining. Growing up in rural Ontario (Elmira), living in K-W, working in Barrie, and Hamilton, I realized the smaller cities aren’t exposed as much and they should be because their are tons of foodies everywhere… So the concept/event is coming to them.”
Taboo Eats is another example of Ottawa’s continuing growth as a real foodie centre, building on the success of events like the Mello’s pop-up restaurant, craft beer celebration and growing food truck scene.
“Ottawa is definitely ready for this. There are great events popping up more and more, the locals crave new things, especially when it comes to food. There are pockets of great food establishments across the city, but to me Ottawa is a diverse mix of residents, business and tourist who all travel, see and/or hear about the great things going on in other cities, and they want to have it at home.”
Taboo Eats is happening this Saturday, September 29 at the Ottawa Jail Hostel (75 Nicholas Street). Admission is $10. Tasting dishes cost $2 to $8 each.