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Foodie Friday: Harvest Table 2013 brings farm-to-fork to life

By Pam Kapoor on August 9, 2013

At noon on Sunday, August 18th, 200 or so locavores will sit down to a family style gourmet feast under canopies at the Savour Ottawa Harvest Table – in view of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Brewer’s Park.

For this third installment of an event dedicated to highlighting both the bounty and culinary talent of the National Capital Region, chefs from eight establishments – Thyme & Again, Beckta, Courtyard, The Fairmont Château Laurier, le café at the National Arts Centre, Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen, Brother’s Beer Bistro, and Susan Jessup (formerly of 42 Crichton Street Fine Foods) – are designing dishes around seasonal ingredients provided by a tasty array of area producers (see full list below).

I asked event coordinator, Jessica Sims, how participants are chosen from among Savour Ottawa’s substantial community.

“Whoever is keen is welcome. Because they’re members, we know already they meet the criteria to show commitment to local food.”

Eager to unearth the menu, I asked Jessica to dish. But that’s under wraps until service. Which I suppose adds to the charm of such an event. So, too, does the fact that diners are joined at the table by the very chefs and producers behind the meal, and that the feast is served family style. 16-seat tables foster an intimate atmosphere where folks can really enjoy each other: “You might not know the person beside you, so if you’re passing dishes around, it’s a nice way to mingle and get to know each other,” says Jessica.

The producer line-up would suggest we will be treated to dishes featuring venison, wild boar, pork, chicken, and beef, colourful produce, artisanal cheeses, creative preserves, and fresh honey. To wash it all down, refreshments by Beyond the Pale Brewing Company, Blue Gypsy Wines, Jabulani Vineyard and Winery, and Turtle Island Brewing Co.

How are the chefs paired with ingredients, I wondered. Sims and her team made many matches based on the participating chefs’ preliminary ideas of what they’d like to create. Some restaurants are partnered with farms they’ve been working with for years, some are entirely new connections.

Jessica says the event attracts people of all ages and backgrounds: “Anyone who loves food, who wants to celebrate the harvest in a delicious way.”

“Even if you don’t know a lot about local food, it’s a great way to introduce you to it because you’re sitting next to farmers who can tell you about what they’re growing just outside of town.”

Organizers are expecting 200-224 guests on the 18th (they increased capacity from last year’s sold-out 150), including Mayor Jim Watson and several other VIPs.

Tickets are going fast – they’re $75 and can be purchased online. Anyone interested in a closer look at the people and products of Ottawa Farmers’ Market can splurge for a $90 ‘Cream of the Crop’ ticket which includes hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, and a VIP tour of the market by C’est Bon Catering before the luncheon.

Here are the 21 producers participating in Savour Ottawa Harvest Table 2013:

Acorn Creek Garden Farm, Beking’s Poultry Farm, Castor River Farm, Clarmell Farms, Day Brighteners Farm, Fitzroy Beef Farmers Cooperative, Glengarry Fine Cheese, Hall’s Apple Market, Heavenly Honey, Kricklewood Farm, O’Brien Farms, Pork of Yore, Riverglen Biodynamic Farm, Rochon Garden Farm, Rollway Hops + the Back 50, Roots and Shoots Farm, The Elk Ranch, The Pickle Patch, Trillium Meadows, Red Deer & Wild Board Farm, Upper Canada Cranberries, Upper Canada Heritage Meat

By the way, if you don’t already know about Savour Ottawa, you should.  It works to develop and promote the Ottawa area as a premier culinary destination and helps local producers with marketing. Membership is comprised of restaurants, producers, retailers, and microprocessors.

Harvest Table 2013 by Savour Ottawa takes place at 12pm, Sunday, August 18th, 2013 at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, Brewer Park. Tickets are $75 / $90 (Cream of the Crop) and can be purchased here.