Calling all foodies: Embassy of France, Beckta dining & wine to partner for Goût de France benefit dinner

Embassy hosts launch reception to promote upcoming global celebration of French gastronomy
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From left, guests Gary Zed and Liza Mrak with French Ambassador Kareen Rispal and restaurateur Stephen Beckta at the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France, held at the Embassy of France on Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Editor's Note

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Mesdames et messieurs, prepare to tantalize your taste buds.

Goût de France / Good France, an annual international celebration of French cuisine, will be returning to the Embassy of France this spring.

It will be collaborating with renowned restaurant Beckta dining & wine to host an exclusive benefit dinner in honour of the global event.

The five-course meal, with wine pairings, promises to offer a warm and intimate evening for up to 90 guests, with proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa. Each year, the local charity provides free after-school, weekend and summer programs to 4,500 vulnerable children and youth. Tickets for the dinner are available online.

The announcement was made Monday night by Ambassador Kareen Rispal at 42 Sussex Dr., an iconic landmark built in the 1930s and located along the Ottawa River. It houses both the embassy and the head of mission's official residence. 

Rispal invited a roomful of foodies and social media influencers to the launch to help spread the word about Goût de France / Good France.

“You will not be surprised to learn that one of my biggest priorities as French ambassador is to promote French gastronomy,” said Rispal of a food industry that remains a major draw for tourists to her homeland.

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Catherine Clark, president of Catherine Clark Communications, with her husband, Chad Schella, general manager of government and community affairs at Canada Post, were guests of the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France, at the Embassy of France on Monday, December 9, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Export Development Canada (EDC) principal solutions architect Ed Dunnigan with his EDC colleague Janet Wilson, a former fashion and lifestyle editor, were invited to the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France, at the Embassy of France. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Ottawa At Home food contributor Korey Kealey as well as Julie Findlay were invited to the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France, at the Embassy of France. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Instagrammer and influencer Katie Hession at the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France with her husband, senior television editor and digital media producer Guy Georgeson. Photo by Caroline Phillips

In 2010, the “gastronomic meal of the French” was recognized by UNESCO as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.”

Launched in 2015, Goût de France is a global effort to promote the excellence of French cuisine and to bring people from all over the world together through their shared love of food. The event takes place in 150 countries across five continents, involving thousands of chefs and restaurants.

In 2020, the celebrations will focus on the idyllic French region of Loire Valley, a major food and wine-producing area and the one-time stomping grounds of kings and queens.

The Goût de France embassy dinner is happening in Ottawa on Thursday, April 16 in the impressive grand salon. Rispal, who has twice previously hosted such an event, makes a point of visiting all the tables to chat with guests.

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French Ambassador Kareen Rispal, chatting with guest Catherine Bélanger, at the Goût de France / Good France dinner held at the Embassy of France last March 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

“There is no such thing as good cuisine if it is not prepared out of friendship,” Rispal told the room Monday during her remarks, quoting the late French chef Paul Bocuse.

The ambassador shared the podium with Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa’s board chair and Beckta dining & wine owner Stephen Beckta. His executive chef, Katie Ardington, will be collaborating with embassy chef Laurent Provence in preparing the special French dinner.

Additionally, Beckta dining & wine will showcase French-style dishes at its restaurant during the week of April 13. It’s hoping other restaurants do the same.

“This is an opportunity for restaurants the world over to celebrate French food,” said Beckta, who has a soft spot both for France and for the Loire Valley, where, for starters, he honeymooned.

Last year, the ambassador hosted a similar Goût de France dinner for the Ocean Wise conservation program. In 2018, the dinner specifically honoured women by supporting Women Deliver, a group that advocates globally for gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women. Coincidentally, the guest chef that year was also Ardington, who was the personal chef to the prime minister at the time.

Also present for Monday’s announcement were Gary Zed, long-time supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa and chair of its advancement committee, and his partner, Liza Mrak from charity sponsor Mark Motors Group of Ottawa.

It was nice to see Emily Jones Joanisse, co-founder and CEO of Connected Canadians, attend as a guest; she's often working the French embassy parties in her other role as a freelance DJ.

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From left, Veronique Savoie, Henrietta Southam and Emily Jones Joanisse at the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France, at the Embassy of France. Photo by Caroline Phillips

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Rogers TV host and producer and print journalist Barbara Balfour with Stephen Beckta, owner of Beckta dining & wine, at the launch reception for Goût de France / Good France. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca