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Photo by Trevor Pritchard (Apt613 Flickr Pool)

Food Fusion: Professional sector employees to compete in United Way cooking challenge for charity

By Apartment613 on March 28, 2017

Post by Lisa Xu

Teams of individuals from the professional sector will put their cooking skills to the test in a competition to raise funds for charity. Food Fusion will be held at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute on Thursday March 30 from 5:30pm to 9:30pm

The event is being organized by United Way Ottawa, a local charity that invests in programs to support community members.

“We invest in everything from getting kids ready for school all the way up to seniors and making sure that they feel comfortable in their community and they can stay at home as long as possible, and everything in between,” says Melissa MacIsaac, the manager of donor relations at United Way.

Food Fusion is open to the public, and tickets are available online. At the event, guests will receive complimentary drinks and appetizers made by Le Cordon Bleu, sample dishes created by the teams, and get to mix and mingle with people from the professional sector.

Proceeds will be going towards strengthening the mental health and addiction supports in existing programs in which United Way invests.

“This is in response to the crisis going on in Ottawa right now with fentanyl. United Way is doing a lot in response to that current issue, and this is going to help strengthen that,” says MacIsaac.

Various companies registered teams to compete, such as Nelligan O’Brien Payne, a local law firm, and Edelman, a public affairs and communications company. Ryan Clarke, a government relations consultant at Edelman, is the captain of his team. Clarke is also a volunteer at United Way, and he helped organizers come up with the event, drawing inspiration from the growing foodie scene in Ottawa.

Chef Kyle Fewtrell leads Team Edelman Canada in a training session ahead of the big day.

Chef Kyle Fewtrell leads Team Edelman Canada in a training session ahead of the big day.

“It’s sort of interesting because it’s kind of a layered event, with all these different things that will be happening,” says Clarke.

There’s a competitive angle from the cooking competition, and a social side that brings people from different industries together.

Six local celebrity chefs are volunteering their time to train a team of five to cook a high quality dish. Julie Vachon, a pastry chef at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, is one of the six participating chefs, and will be training her team to make macarons. Vachon says she is excited for the event.

“It’s a break in the routine, a little bit. So it’s a little challenge, meeting new people, and meeting people in the industry,” says Vachon.

For the competition, her mentee’s task will be to replicate the dish without her professional help, and it will be judged by the six chefs and the audience on various criteria. Winners will receive a trophy created by a local artist.

Chef Joe Thottungal with members of Team Gowling WLG Canada.

Chef Joe Thottungal with members of Team Gowling WLG Canada.

Alongside Vachon, participating chefs include Jon Svazas (Fauna, Bar Laurel), Jesse Bell (The Albion Rooms), Joe Thottungal (Coconut Lagoon), Kyle Fewtrell (Tulips & Maple Catering) and Ilan Dagan (freelance).

This is the first year United Way is launching Food Fusion, and they are expecting a full house. MacIsaac says that the goal is to make it an annual event.

“I think it’s gonna be a ton of fun, and I’m really looking forward to it,” says Clarke.


Food Fusion is happening at Le Cordon Bleu (453 Laurier Ave E) at 5:30pm on March 30. Tickets cost $45 and are available online via Eventbrite.