Over the Christmas break I had the pleasure of sitting down with Chef Robin Bowen from Empire Grill to talk a little bit about his participation in the upcoming Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event taking place on January 24, 2011 at the NAC. For more info feel free to take a look at my previous post. During our talk I learned a lot of pretty interesting things about Chef Bowen. Here are just a few of them!

- Chef Bowen describes his cooking style as ‘Contemporary Canadian Cusine’. Because of the size of Empire Grill and the amount of business they do, sourcing locally is not always possible or practical, but Chef uses as many all Canadian products as available. However there are some local vendors used by Chef Bowen including Serious Cheese, Mariposa Farm among others.

-  Chef Bowen, previously from Alberta and team mate Chef Paul Rogalski from Rouge Restaurant in Calgary are very excited to finally be cooking together. The pair have mutual friends in the Calgary restaurant scene and so far seem to be working quite well together. The pair was the first team to turn in their menu – more on that in a post to come! But I will let you know it features Bison that will be shipped to Ottawa from Chef Rogalski’s Alberta supplier North Country Buffalo.

- Like many chefs and foodies in the city, Chef Bowen is pro Foie Gras. While it is not on his menu, and he doesn’t love using the ingredient himself, he has no problems with others using it and doesn’t mind eating it!

- Over the years Chef Bowen’s reasons for being a Chef have evolved. First because it was what he was good at, then because he had dedicated so much of his life to food there was no turning back. Now Chef finds pleasure in watching people’s reaction to his food – from seeing the ‘wow’ on their faces when they are served a really great meal. He’s also motivated to continue cooking to inspire the next generation of aspiring chefs to be, in fact chefs and not just cooks. A difference he makes between someone with passion, talent and training to produce amazing food and someone who is cooking just for a pay cheque.

- Though he’s gotten over those people who expect to be in and out of a fine dining restaurant with a 4 star meal in under 45 minutes, those who want their meal well done and those who ask for ketchup on the side, there is one thing Chef Bowen refuses to do and that is to sacrifice his dish and plating in order to cook something faster.  So next time you are in a hurry, best to stop for a quick sandwich rather than into Empire Grill and ask Chef to butterfly your meal so it will cook in less time.

Now that you are a little better acquainted with one of the participants of the Canadian Celebrity Chefs Event – don’t you feel like joining Chef Bowen, myself and many other foodies for a night of food, wine and fun at the NAC?? Of course you do! You can get your tickets here.

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