When chef Walid El-Tawel, the force behind Ottawa’s brilliant Fairouz, started his preparation for the prestigious Gold Medal Plates competition in the capital his plan was clear.
“At Fairouz our philosophy and vision has been to marry great Canadian ingredients with Middle Eastern flavours and nuances. So, we embarked on a mission to find what demonstrates Canadian heritage and pays respect to Middle Eastern food culture,” El-Tawel said.
This mission brought El-Tawel to one protein in particular: SeaDNA seal meat, a unique Canadian canvas on which he was able to put his own creative spin.
“Seal came on to my radar a few months ago when Louis Diament brought in a guest from Montreal who did a demonstration at the restaurant for us. It stayed in the back of my mind and followed up that day with lots of research and found that seal is just as a part of Canadian history as maple syrup and foie gras.”
El-Tawel continues: “I embraced the opportunity to celebrate Canada’s rich culinary heritage by celebrating lesser known protein sources because as Chefs it is our job to be educators. Canada 150 played a huge role in how we approached the dish philosophy. I believe we embodied what it is to be a modern Middle Eastern in Canada and what Fairouz food culture is.”
Gold Medal Plates means hundreds of discerning palates to impress and taste-buds to blow away and El-Tawel was able to fuse his heritages in a way that showcased both his skills and remarkable culinary imagination.
“The dish was Ras al Hanout crusted seal with rose & hibiscus fluid gel and pickled lentils. The Ras al Hanout 21 ingredient spice blend was a marriage between middle eastern ingredients and Canadian ingredients. We used seaweed from the Haida Gwaii, dulse from the East coast to add some nice underlying saltiness to the spice blend.”
Visually stunning and utterly delicious, El-Tawel’s Gold Medal offering earned rave reviews from those in attendance including foodies, Olympians, and critics.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Chef Walid is creating some amazing hometown fare with his Fairouz earning nods such as: Best New Restaurant In Canada – Top 30 (EnRoute), Best Restaurant in Ottawa – Top 10 (Ottawa Magazine) and is listed at #46 in Canada’s top 100 restaurants.
We congratulate Walid for the honour of competing in Gold Medal Plates and salute him for helping showcase one of Canada’s truly great products.
For reservations and more info on Fairouz in Ottawa: https://www.fairouz.ca/
For more information on SeaDNA Seal Meat: http://www.seadna.ca