I'm in the ByWard Market to bring you live updates from the 23rd annual ByWard Market Stew Cook-Off. It starts in 10 minutes, and there's already a line outside the gates!
In total, there are 24 stews here today, all donated by Ottawa restaurants and charities.
Last year's winners: were the Fish Market, Fat Tuesdays and Restaurant 18, and Steak. They're all here today to defend their titles with new stews.
The gates are opening! Here we go! I'd say there are about 150 people waiting in line.
The winners will be decided by judges: food critic and author Gay Cook, Pierre Jury from Le Droit, Police Chief Charles Bordeleau, Inniskillin's head wine taster Bruce Nicholson, Trevor Greenway from Metro News and Yolande Cremer from the Lowertown Community Resource Centre's board of directors. They have a lot of eating to do this afternoon!
I'm starting off with a Korean pork shoulder stew from the Courtyard Restaurant. Chef Ian Reed said he was inspired by flavours in the gourmet dishes he makes at the upscale eatery.
Mayor Jim Watson is here enjoying the stews. He is a fan of the annual event. Watson: "It gives us a chance to taste the creativity of many ByWard Market restaurants in one spot, and it's for charity."
The event runs until 2 p.m., so there's still time to come down!
The Organic Market's South Asian stew is my favourite so far. It has rich flavours, and is just a little sweet.
While today is a competition, it is also a chance to spread awareness. Shepards of Good Hope and the Ottawa Mission are both here with stews and information on their programs.
With today's chilly weather, the little bowls of stew act as hand warmers.
Judge and chef Cook has started tasting the 24 stews here today. She says a flavourful sauce is the key to a good stew.
The usual beef and potatoes are well represented today. But some unexpected ingredients including kale and roasted nuts are also popular.
The winning stews will be announced in about an half an hour. If you can't hang around until then, you can go to the ByWard Market website for the full list of winners later this afternoon.
The judges will award first second and third place prizes. Each guest has a ballot to vote for their favourites to win the people's choice award.
Host Coun. Mathieu Fleury takes time to remind guests that their delicious lunch will help kids enjoy the summer in Lowertown.
The judges are now stuffed full and tabulating results.
Coun. Fleury says everyone here today is volunteering their time and kitchens. This is his fourth time hosting the cook-off.
I just met James, who usually brown bags lunch at his desk. He said this is a fun change. He's tried 10 stews so far, and is especially loving the ones with smoked bacon.
But Mary is not very impressed. She'd been impressed by the exotic flavours used in previous years. She said she's let down chefs this year have played it safe with mostly traditional stews.
Time to announce the winners!!
Third place goes to Courtyard Restaurant's Korean pork shoulder stew.
The Heart and Crown's red wine, braised beef and bacon stew takes second.
The chefs are serving the last of their stews as the event come to a close.
The people's choice awards are being counted and will be up on the website within a day, according to organizers.
No count yet on how much money was raised, but organizers tell me last year's cook-off brought in $6,000 and they think they are close to that again this year.
I did try Steak's winning stew. I liked it but, but my first place "award" goes to the Organic Market's South Asian stew. It was rich and flavourful with a refreshing sweet taste.
Chantal Pomerleau, director general of the Lowertown Community Resource Centre, said today's funds will go to summer camps for six to 12 year olds from low-income families.
Judge Cremer just told me that the recipes she tasted today have inspired her to experiment in the kitchen. "Stew doesn't have to be just potatoes and carrots and meat," she said.