Thursday Q&A with Margaret Dickenson
For 28 years, Margaret Dickenson accompanied her diplomat husband on eight foreign postings. Today, she is a cookbook author, recipe/menu developer and TV host. Her first book, From the Ambassador’s Table — Blueprints for Creative Entertaining, won international awards as did her second, Margaret’s Table — Easy Cooking and Inspiring Entertaining. She writes a food column in Diplomat magazine and regularly conducts workshops on business protocol and social etiquette. She lives in Old Ottawa South with her husband, Larry, and her beloved tabby cat, Nelson. She answered Style’s many questions.
OCS: Who are your style icons?
MD: Coco Chanel
OCS: What’s on your bedside table?
MD: A pen and paper to jot down (sometimes not legible) recipe ideas and culinary creations that I come-up with while sleeping
OCS: Best home accessory?
MD: Cushions, handmade carpets, framed photos of family and friends.
OCS: Best recent fashion find?
MD: Slim pants
OCS: Whom would you invite for dinner if you could choose anyone in the world?
MD: Amanda Lang (CBC business and news reporter)
OCS: You can see the debut of any piece of music in history. What would it be?
MD: (Leonard Cohen’s) Hallelujah
OCS: What’s your earliest memory?
MD: Probably from the age of three or four, I still remember as a family in the fall, we would pick hundreds of pounds of potatoes on our farm in Thunder Bay. Our reward at the end of a chilly workday, was munching on crusty, well-roasted potatoes, baked among hot coals in a makeshift fire pit, arranged in the centre of the potato patch. Mother always remembered to bring along plenty of homemade butter. Yummy!
OCS: Your biggest fashion faux-pas, when, where and how?
MD: To be honest, I don’t believe I’ve had one — not yet anyway!
OCS: Proudest moments?
MD: • Seeing my husband, Larry, succeed in his career in the Canadian foreign service and supporting him along the way.
• Watching our daughters mature beautifully, establish themselves in strong careers while creating warm, balanced homes for their families.
• Being recognized with many international culinary awards and having been (unbelievably) chosen “Alumna of Honour 2011” for the University of Guelph. Yes, life has been good.
OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?
MD: Our antique Korean chests (used for many practical purposes)
OCS: Qualities you most admire in a person?
MD: Generosity, sincerity, sensitivity, talent, energy, modesty, honesty and being “down-to-earth”
OCS: For whom would you most like to cook?
MD: (I’d like to) cook for my British friend Heston Blumenthal, executive chef/owner of the world-renowned restaurant, The Fat Duck, in England.
OCS: Describe a perfect day off (it can be anywhere in the world).
MD: Walking interesting streets in an old world or modern city and having a coffee and snacks al fresco at a sunny outdoor café.
OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?
MD: (Russian painter Marc) Chagall
OCS: Favourite local artist (if different from above, and doesn’t have to be a visual artist)?
MD: Yehouda Chaki (of Montreal.)
OCS: Best book you read in the past year?
MD: Jerusalem — I am still reading it.
OCS: Favourite food?
MD: All small tastes and shared plates
OCS: Most-oft-played song on your iPod or MP3 player?
MD: Il Divo
OCS: Wine, beer or both?
OCS: Mac or PC?
OCS: Fine dining or plain old diners?
MD: Fine dining
OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?
MD: Several are among my favourites (and for different reasons/occasions). However, Larry and I most frequently treat houseguests to a “sharing plate” experience at Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar.
OCS: Person, place or thing that makes you proudest/happiest that you live in Ottawa?
MD: Our home beside the Rideau Canal, personally decorated primarily with collectables from our Canadian foreign service postings to eight countries.
OCS: Fave blog or website?
MD: Ron Eade’s Omnivore’s Ottawa
OCS: Twitter, Facebook or both?
OCS: What’s your guilty pleasure?
MD: Freshly crushed raw garlic.
OCS: Favourite place to spend time?
MD: In our loft overlooking the Rideau Canal and Old Ottawa South
OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?
MD: Happily devoted wife, loving and proud mom, whose unexpected professional culinary career has inspired many in Canada and abroad.