Every year, mid-Fall, I Youtube “How to Tie a Tie” then I don my best vest and tie combo and attend the Wine & Food show at the Ottawa Conference Centre. It’s one of the city’s most epic galas that combines very well-dressed people with copious amounts of high-end food and drink. It even helped to shape the early years of my love and appreciation for craft beer. For a lot of folks here its an annual tradition.
This year promises to be extra special for two reasons: firstly, it’s the 30th anniversary of the event; and secondly, the Saturday show lines up with Halloween.
Event organizers are turning it up: the palette of Ottawans has become more sophisticated and therefore this show has evolved with it. 2015’s edition will provide foodie learning opportunities as well as local and international food experiences. Check the website for both free and paid seminars to find one that suits your tastes and get in on celebrating this dirty thirty. They’re expecting the 375,000 wine samples, 110,000 bites of gourmet food and 250,000 sips of beer to attract approximately 23,000 visitors, so make sure to grab your tix in advance.
For the Halloweeners, there is a $7,500 trip to the Barbados Food, Wine and Rum Show up for grabs for the winner of the judged ‘Haute Halloween’ red carpet welcome. Masks are disqualified! Plan your award-winning costume accordingly.
As always, the event runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday with different sessions and events scheduled each day, including a baking session with chef Anna Olsen (you’ve probably see her on those Home Hardware commercials).
There is a charitable component of the fest as well, the event supports The Ottawa Mission, donating thousands of dollars from unused drink tickets and returned empties that help to purchase Christmas dinners for the homeless. This year chefs from the Mission will be cooking small plates for attendees of the Saturday afternoon session.
As a veteran of the event, gather ’round friends and let me offer some sage words of wisdom:
- Dress Up: If you’re not going to wear a costume, suit up! I know, I know, weekend’s are for non-collared shirts, but trust me, people get gussied up for this event. Don’t be the under-dressed guest. Or dress casual and claim it’s your costume…
- Pace Yourself: There’s plenty of booze and food to go around. Avoid the temptation to gorge yourself at the first few tables you see. Like a majestic white tiger, patiently stalk and observe your opportunities before striking at your delicious prey.
- Try Weird Stuff: Everything is sample size so there’s no harm trying a new tidbit of food or strange drink (don’t be afraid of eggwhites in cocktails!).
- Be Ticket Aware: This is a ticket/token event. In year’s past you’ve been able to refund unused tickets for cash but at the end of the night, you’re not going to want to get in another line. Plan your tokens accordingly. Of course, when you wake up the next day, still in your formal-wear with a mild headache, rest easy that the unspent tokens still in your wallet went to a good cause: The Ottawa Mission.
This is an over-the-top event and a great chance to sample some high-end drinks and cuisine!
The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival is happening from October 30 – November 1, 2015 at the Shaw Centre (55 Colonel By Drive). For tickets and information, please click here.