So delectable was the food and so hungry was the crowd that this year’s Taste in the Glebe was all about producing zero waste in more ways than one.
Organizers implemented a number of environmentally friendly initiatives, including the swapping of plastic dinnerware for the real deal. This year, they could afford to rent proper wine glasses, plates and cutlery, thanks to sponsorship from McKeen Metro Glebe.
Seen arriving from the century-old, family-owned business was prominent grocer Jim McKeen, who just became a grandfather for the first time. Daughter Rebecca McKeen, a fourth-generation Glebe grocer, gave birth two weeks ago (just you wait, baby Audrey will be stocking shelves and taking inventory before we know it).
The giant cocktail party, held in the large domed Scotton Hall at the Glebe Community Centre, showcases all the best restaurants and food specialty shops located within the area. The evening also brings in outside eateries, breweries, wineries and distilleries to keep the event feeling fresh and exciting for returning attendees.
“It’s really become a preeminent food event within the city because it offers so much diversity,” commented Elizabeth Kilvert, owner of The Unrefined Olive, an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar and store. She’s been supporting the community event for the past six years as a Glebe businesswoman. When asked if she’s also a resident of the upscale neighbourhood, she quipped: “I don’t sell that much olive oil.”
Nearly 50 food and beverage businesses took part in the $70-a-ticket main event, which has the feel of a giant indoor block party. With winter being so cold and dark this time of year, you’re more likely to bump into your neighbour at Taste in the Glebe than on your actual street.
A bunch of more established restaurants, including Beckta, North & Navy, and Fraser Café, participated in the separate, more-expensive premier tasting experience.
Long-time supporters included Caren von Merveldt, owner of Von’s Bistro and Flipper’s Restaurant, and Pelican Seafood Market & Grill, although lively co-owner Jim Foster was absent this year. Mayor Jim Watson — who is a loyal attendee of Taste in the Glebe — stepped in for the fun photo-op previously mastered by Foster, involving a whole smoked salmon side fillet.
Organizers expected to raise about $30,000. The money helps GNAG (Glebe Neighbourhood Activities Group) and its community development fund (CDF), which subsidizes families across Ottawa so they can participate in the non-profit organization’s recreational, social and cultural activities. The CDF also provides for capital and community projects.
Good luck getting a ticket to Taste in the Glebe, though. They were gone in less than a day. Even the event’s long-time chair, Tahera Mufti, found herself on the waiting list when she wanted to buy a couple extra.
Glebe resident Carol Devenny, a senior partner at PwC, was certainly on the ball. Ticket sales opened the same day as the annual Take Our Kids to Work — not that she was going to let visiting children in her office distract her from her mission. “I told them, ‘I can’t talk right now, I’ve got to buy my ticket’," she told OBJ.social in the packed crowd of 400.
Wayne Jennings and his wife, Sandy are new to the neighbourhood (they moved onto Clemow Avenue last year). They got tickets to the event as a housewarming gift from their friends, fellow Glebites André Champagne and Katherine Ryan. “This is our way of introducing them to the Glebe,” said Champagne, who also works in the Glebe. He’s a partner at labour and employment law firm Emond Harnden. Jennings is president of Doran Contractors Ltd., which is part of Taggart Group of Companies.
As the evening wore on, Erling’s Variety appeared to be running low on food. Were they dealing with a particularly ravenous crowd? Had Erling’s not brought enough? “Both; it’s a strategy. Shhh,” replied owner Liam Vainola while placing his index finger to his lips. It became clear he was only kidding after a large platter of fresh oysters and scallop ceviche soon appeared.