Culinary camaraderie in the Glebe
If only my camera bag could have doubled as a doggy bag at Thursday’s Taste in the Glebe fundraiser, where there was just so much good food and drink to be enjoyed inside the Glebe Community Centre.
Sighted in the sold-out crowd of 350-plus was Ion Aimers of ZaZaZa serving his thin-crust gourmet pizza to the hungry hordes while, nearby, fellow restaurateur Caren von Merveldt of Von’s Bistro and Flippers Seafood Restaurant cooked up Thai coconut curry shrimp.
Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko attended, but because he had to head to an evening meeting at City Hall, he indulged in just a splash of wine followed by a caffeine binge of Bridgehead coffee with a chocolate brownie.
The evening was expected to raise roughly $19,000. The event’s returning volunteer chair, Tahera Mufti, lauded the camaraderie within the culinary community. George Monsour’s Back Lane Café in Hintonburg and the ByWard Market’s Sidedoor with executive chef Jonathan Korecki were among the non-Glebe restaurants to support the cause, GNAG (Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group).
Fourth Avenue Wine Bar and Café owner David Eaton and his wife Sue know first hand how valuable the GNAG community group is to the ’hood. Its programs and activities have been part of their children’s lives since the Eatons moved here from England. “It’s like a home away from home,” Sue told Around Town.
Their chef, Rosie Nash, chatted after the big rush with Glebe Meat Market owner Stephane Sauve about his butcher shop’s sought-after haggis. The chef has put in an order so she can serve the Scottish dish to a certain customer on Robbie Burns Day this Friday.
ALL THE WORLD’S A DANCE HALL
Vancouver-based actor and writer Carmen Aguirre got audience member Glenn McInnes to do what few other women have: dance.
It happened Thursday at the opening of Aguirre’s one-woman hit show at the GCTC. McInnes was in the front row with his wife Barbara, president of the Community Foundation of Ottawa, when Aguirre pulled him up midway through the play to salsa with her. He was eventually joined on stage by more dancing audience members, including Barbara.
“My wife joked that she (Aguirre) is the first woman to get me to dance in 25 years,” McInnes said at the party afterward.
Another front-row seater, Jane Morris, wound up on stage for a brief non-speaking part while her husband, Bob Hicks, thoroughly enjoyed having Aguirre lean in close to him as she talked about a passionate sexual encounter.
The play, directed by Brian Quirt and produced by Rupal Shah of Nightswimming, focuses on Aguirre’s life as a Chilean freedom fighter.
Attendees included former Liberal cabinet minister David Collenette and his wife, Penny. They were seen mingling with GCTC board member Lewis Auerbach as well as Ontario Arts Council board member Harvey Slack, who recently lost his longtime partner, retired senator Laurier LaPierre. LaPierre would have enjoyed the show, said Slack, but would have wanted to sit in “his seat” that bears a plaque with their names on in for being GCTC supporters. It’s Row E, Seat 1.
GOOD EATS WITH ROOM TO SPARE
While I have nothing against crowds and close physical contact with strangers, there’s something to be said for sufficient elbow room.
Organizers of the Red & White fundraiser for Harmony House must have realized this too as they moved their burgeoning event to a larger space this year, offered at Ashbury College.
Some 250 people gathered Wednesday in the private school’s Maclaren Hall to sample Eastern Ontario wines and beer along with the creative cuisine showcased by Ottawa chefs Caroline Ishii (Zen Kitchen) Sarah Allen (Union Local 613) and Katie Brown (Beckta dining and wine).
The chefs gave individual cooking demonstrations as their tasty dishes were plated by culinary management students from Algonquin College and served. In the crowd were such supporters as Red Wagon graphic designer Julie Dorion as well as Sarah Pike and Rebecca Page, who are the volunteer board president and vice-president, respectively, at Harmony House, a second-stage shelter for abused women and their children.
Also seen was Michael Moffatt, executive chef of the acclaimed Beckta, Play and Gezellig restaurants, chatting with former National Arts Centre executive chef Michael Blackie.
Majic 100 host Stuntman Stu sold off a 10-person dinner to be cooked by the evening’s three star female chefs with vino from Sandbanks Estate Winery. Jhon Thula and his buddy, Simon Bevan, bought it for $1,200 because “it’s a good cause and we like food.”
KEEPING KING’S DREAM ALIVE
It wouldn’t feel right, reporting on the Eighth Annual Martin Luther King Day Celebration without mentioning one of King’s inspiring messages. So here it goes: Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.
That quote was used by DreamKeepers Life Achievement Award winner Patricia Bebia Mawa last Monday as she graciously accepted her award before a crowd of 100 or so at the Government Conference Centre (the event, full of live music and touching moments, was held early this year to accommodate those folks attending south to U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony).
The Nigerian-born beauty is best known as host and producer of the Planet Africa television series broadcast on OMNI and as managing editor of Planet Africa Magazine. She lives in Toronto with her husband and business partner, Moses, and their three kids, but both are former residents of Ottawa. Mawa earned her multimedia diploma from Algonquin College.
“For us, Moses and I, our dream was to make the world a better place,” said Mawa while explaining how they’ve endeavoured to promote a more positive side of Canada’s African-heritage community.
Among those to take to the stage were Fred Sherman, editor in chief of Planet Africa; U.S. Embassy cultural attaché Diane Sovereign; community TV and radio host Sarah Onyango; and retired educator June Girvan, who spoke about Lady Agnes, second wife of Sir John A. Macdonald, as “a vibrant symbol of the newcomers’ commitment to Canada.” Agnes, like Girvan, was born in Jamaica.