A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the Shaw Centre and asked for my mailing address. Hours later, I came home to find a mysterious black box tied with a blue bow and this inside.
It was an invitation to an exclusive event for Ottawa’s Top Food Critics and Bloggers at Shaw Centre’s crEATe kitchen. This is the most innovative invitation for an event that we have received to date, and it’s a real cutting board too. I have to admit, I was shocked (and honoured) that we were included in this group. The invitation left me intrigued and curious to know more of what the night was all about. Admittedly, I didn’t know a lot about crEATe kitchen so I did some research online and learned that it was a concept that was launched and opened in 2011 located on the first floor of the Shaw Centre (previously known as the Ottawa Congress Centre/Ottawa Convention Centre). crEATe kitchen is an intimate space that offers various options including interactive cooking (guests prepare the first of four courses), a chef-led demonstration dinner, or receptions. The unique space accomodates up to 18 people for a sit-down dinner or about 35 for a reception. If you chose the sit-down dinner option, the 18 seats are made up of two U-shaped sections directly in front of the cooking and plating area giving guests an up-close view of Chef Geoffery Morden and his team. crEATe kitchen is under the direction of Shaw Centres Executive Chef Geoffery Morden. Morden is an Ottawa native who graduated from Stratford Chefs School. He joined what is now called the Shaw Centre in 2010 after a long-time association with Fairmont Hotels -- the Fairmont Chateau Laurier is less than a block away and is where he started his career in 1993. Morden runs the Shaw Centre’s 13,000 square foot kitchen facilities and regularly oversees multiple events taking place at the centre on any given day. Upon arrival we were treated to several appetizers including: pork belly served on an apple chip, giant prawns, and scallops.
This event also gave us the opportunity to meet fellow food critics and bloggers. Most often we interact online but it’s really great when you can meet and connect in person. I had the opportunity to finally meet Don and Jenn of foodiePrints, Paula Roy, Pierre Jury (Le Droit), Gay Cooke, and Sonia Mendes (Representing Edible Ottawa).
Each guest sat down to a wonderfully decorated place setting lined with the menu and wine pairings for the evening, a succulent plant and a cool wine thermometer to take home later.
Each of the five wine pairings was carefully selected and presented by Chef Morden (also a certified sommelier) before each course.
The menu for the evening was divided into 6 sections as follows:
Third Course: Overnight roasted Alberta lamb rack, cauliflower puree, cashew crust, natural jus. Chef used his Rational oven’s “overnight program” for the lamb. The slow roasting offers a very tender and even cook taking about 2 hours at 131F. Paired with Malivoire, Pinot Noir, Niagara.
The event was truly as unique as the invitation. The Shaw Centre’s team of Sarah Botros and Sylvie Carbonneau really hit it out of the park with this event. They wanted to showcase the possibilities that crEATe kitchen has to offer and they did this well. Chef Morden and his team treated us to a very rich and flavourful menu. My personal favourites from the evening were the veal marrow, lamb, and the pineapple fritter. The crEATe kitchen space allowed for an intimate evening where guests were able to freely ask questions and interact with the chef and his staff, and see how each component of the meal was prepared and plated, all the while meeting and connecting with fellow bloggers and critics. Shaw Centre is currently offering packages to choose from with details available on their website. It would be an ideal location for a special private event, media event, girls night out parties, anniversaries, or perhaps businesses wanting to host a high-end VIP experience for their clients. Well done Shaw Centre, the food was exceptional and the experience was memorable! Disclosure: Ottawa Foodie Girlz was invited to attend this complimentary dinner/tasting event but was not obligated to write about it. All opinions about the event are our own.