Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Survived the Ottawa Foodie Challenge

Yesterday I took part in the Ottawa Foodie Challenge (OFC).

This challenge featured many of Ottawa's best restaurants, stores and food-related hangouts. The challenge was to visit the places on the challenge list and perform certain tasks for points. Combining two of my favourite things (games and food), I was beyond excited to participate. Here is the list of challenges (originally posted on the OFC Blog):
  1. Picture of you hugging the Sailor Jerry’s statue at the Whalesbone (5pts, + 5pts) holding a bottle of Sailor Jerry’s

  2. Picture of you and any blogger on this list (5pts, max 2 bloggers, please note if you are participating and you are ON this list a picture of yourself doesn’t count :))

  3. You and the "master blast" coffee listing from the menu at Planet Coffee (5pts)

  4. You in an apron in front of the Cordon Bleu 5pts, +1pts for each chef knife in your hand (max 5 knives)

  5. You and the hoof card holder located on the bar at Murray Street Kitchen (10pts)

  6. You and ANY of Ottawa Magazine's 101 Tastes Before You Die (10pts) (max 2 items)

  7. Outside of Absinthe Cafe 5pts, holding a bottle of Absinthe (5pts)

  8. You and any kind of latte art (5pts)

  9. You and the device that holds the "Tower-O-Rings" from The Works (5pts)

  10. Making a fish face: Outside of the Whalesbone (5 pts), Outside of Lapointes (5 pts), Outside of Big Easy's (5 pts), Outside Pelican Fishery(5pts)

  11. You and a lamb shank from Sasloves (10pts)

  12. You and a side of fresh salmon from Pelican Fishery

  13. You and a Challah from Rideau Bakery (5pts)

  14. You opening your mouth to the enomatic wine machine at Divino Wine Studio (10pts)

  15. You wearing a red apron from the Red Apron (10pts)

  16. You and some Buffalo mozzarella from Ontario from Nicastro’s or La Bottega(10pts)

  17. You and Yellow beets from Herb & Spice (5pts)

  18. You and a Paella pan from Domus Housewares (10pts)

  19. You and a croissant from Moulin de Provence (5pts)

  20. You and the martini list at the Moonroom (15pts)

  21. You rubbbing a Buddha belly at Pho’licious (5pts)

  22. You gettin’ wild at the Wild Oat (be as creative as you like :) ) 10pts

  23. You Shucking an oyster (anywhere but at home!) (10pts)

  24. You and a sausage link from the Sausage Kitchen (5pts)

  25. You and a Gold Medal Plates Chef (20pts- past winner OR competing this Tuesday!)

  26. You and a Really Lebanese placemat 5pts +10pts You and the Garlic King

  27. You and the dessert list at Elgin Street Diner (5pts)

  28. Highfiving an employee at Epicuria (5 pts, +5pts Highfiving whilst holding a food related magazine)

  29. Follow the yellow brick road to the Wizard of _____ Kafe, (5pts, +5pts for red shoes)

  30. Impersonate Town’s logo in front of Town (5pts)

  31. Someone making a naan at Shafali Bazaar (5pts)

  32. You and the fresh pasta case from Parma Ravioli (5pts)

  33. You barefoot in the LCBO with a bottle of Barefoot Wine & Bubbly (15pts)

  34. Piggy back in front of the chicken rotisserie at the Piggy Market (10pts)

  35. Doing a “cheers” at Social (5pts)

  36. You and a Beau’s Brewery Tap Lever (at any location) (5pts)

  37. You and a picture of a smiling veggie/fruit vendor from the Byward Market 5pts

  38. **Movember Clue** You at Bridgehead on Caroline & Wellington with a foodie couple wearing mustaches (Hint: between 1-3pm is IDEAL) 10pts, +5pts if YOU have a mustache too

  39. Riding the "Beemster Cow" at Serious Cheese

  40. Infront of Market Organics with a sign saying "Kiss me I'm organic" (5 pts, +10 pts for someone actually kissing you, and that person CAN'T be your partner)
(Thanks to the organizers for sending me the html for this list!)

The list of challenges was posted at 1:00am, the day of the event. My foodie challenge partner and I gathered together early the morning of the challenge. We grouped the locations by part of town (e.g., Market, Wellington/Westboro, Elgin, etc.) and head out for a food-filled day.

I was really happy to see that the registration fees went to a great cause, The Ottawa Food Bank.

Not only that, the idea snowballed and led others to donate (read about it at foodiePrints).

The event gave me the opportunity to visit some of my favourite food sites in Ottawa and discover a few new ones. Showing up to many of the restaurants before opening time as a non-patron also gave me a chance to talk to some of the owners and feel more connected to the establishments.

Most of the attention was devoted to the challenges, but I did manage to take a few shots throughout the day:

The wall of wine at Divino Wine Studio. I wouldn't mind getting locked in to their studio for the night week.

Free shots at Whalesbone (thanks Charlotte!)

The beauty that is Domus Housewares

It was a full day indeed. By the time we submitted our photos for the day, we were exhausted.

Having gone through the day, here are some suggestions for next year (if the event continues *crossing fingers*):

- Market the heck out of the event. More buzz, more participation. I found out about the event on Twitter (they also had a Facebook site). But, a search of #OFC or @Foodiechallenge a week prior to the event only revealed a few mentions. Things picked up the week of the event.

- Give owners lots of notice about the event (many of the locations we went to were not aware of the challenge -- thankfully, they were all either neutral or supportive). I think the challenge locations should be encouraged to get involved in the event (sponsor, hand out marketing materials, samples, etc.). They have an audience of locals who love food -- sounds like a perfect target audience to me.

- I loved the locations on the challenges. I think it would be neat to add in more clues like:
#8 You and any kind of latte art
#24 You shucking an oyster (anywhere but at home!)
#29 Follow the yellow brick road to the Wizard of _____ Kafe

These are clues that require you to flex your foodie muscles a little bit and, for example, solve a clue or find an item that requires knowledge of where to find certain products in Ottawa.

A BIG thank you and congratulations to the event organizers!


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Wow this is one amazing event Psychgrad and a great way to promote local businesses as well as raise money for a great cause.

Kyle Braatz said...

Thanks for the tips and the great post! They are going to be very helpful for next year!

foodiePrints said...

Great writeup! :)

Did you ever get to the Bridgehead for the Movember photo? #38 was for a pic with two of the bloggers behind foodiePrints, mustached of course!

We met a handful of new food bloggers and put faces to some great food tweeps on Saturday. The participants showed so much enthusiasm!

PG said...

foodiePrints -- yup - we were there. Took a picture with you. Glad you guys could be a part of it!

giz said...

I agree with Val - such a fun day -community building and for a great cause.

Chef Knives said...

Nice Information and really helpful. I have also subscribed the RSS of the website to get regular updates, Looking more information on the same!

Julia said...

That does sound like a fun event!! How did you do?

PG said...

Julia -- the results haven't been tallied yet.

kat said...

That sounds like so much fun!

Lori Lynn said...

Wow! That sounds like a blast!