Niagara College to welcome Ottawa chefs for March 29 event

Four talented chefs from our nation’s capital will unite for a one-of-a-kind dinner event at Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute March 29.

Part of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s popular Chef Signature Series the event will bring four top chefs from the Ottawa region to Benchmark Restaurant. The chefs will work together with a team of CFWI students to dazzle guests with their culinary talents.

Chefs participating in the event include Steve Mitton chef and owner of Murray Street Kitchen; Norm Aitken chef Juniper; Patrick Garland chef Absinthe Café; and John Taylor chef Domus Café.

“Not only will Niagara residents have the rare opportunity to enjoy cuisine from some of Ottawa’s finest chefs right here at our Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus the event is also an extraordinary learning experience for our culinary students” said Craig Youdale dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute. “Over the span of the series our students will not only be exposed to the different styles and personalities of some of the most prominent chefs in Niagara Toronto Ottawa and North America; they will have a chance to work with them and get a real taste for the industry.”

This event Flavours of Ottawa Valley follows three successful Chef Signature Series events this year. The series of five kicked off on Jan. 18 with 10 chef professors from NC’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute and continued Feb. 8 featuring six chefs from the Niagara region. On March 8 it branched out beyond the Niagara region for the first time bringing five chefs from the sizzling hot Toronto culinary scene to NC.

On April 12 the series will conclude with a BBQ and Craft Beer Festival. The event will bring some of the best barbecue personalities in North America to the CFWI.

The Canadian Food and Wine Institute located on Niagara College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus is the college’s centre for food wine and beer education. It is home to Benchmark the college’s teaching restaurant as well as the Teaching Winery and Teaching Brewery. It is also home to Junior Culinary Team Canada to represent our nation at the 2016 World Culinary Olympics.

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences advanced technology media applied health and community safety supported by unique learning enterprises in food wine beer horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit


Media inquiries please contact:

Michael Wales
Senior Communications Officer
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7773
Cell: 905.328.4101   

Julie Greco
Communications Specialist
Office: 905.735.2211 ext. 7368
Cell: 905.328.2532   

About the chefs  

Norman Aitken

Norman Aitken is Chef/Co-Owner of Juniper Kitchen & Wine Bar a cornerstone of fine dining in Ottawa’s trendy Westboro Village critically acclaimed as one of the city’s top tables. Hailing from Souris P.E.I. Chef Norm began his cooking career over 22 years ago at the prestigious Inn At Bay Fortune under the guidance of Chef Michael Smith of Food Network fame. There he developed his understanding respect and value for local fresh ingredients now the foundation of his personal cooking philosophy.

Over the course of his career including a position as Chef of the award-winning Delphi Resort & Spa Norm continually pushes the boundaries of creating distinctive but simple regional seasonal and sustainable cuisine. Passion drives his dedication to delivering the best of house-made quality dishes for the pure love and ultimate goal of satisfying his customers. Chef Norm is committed to doing his part to ensure Ottawa stays a vibrant culinary destination supporting camaraderie among peers on the Ottawa food scene and giving back to his community through many fundraising efforts. He has worked among Canada’s top names including Ned Bell Vikram Vij Susur Lee Robert Clark Michael Howell and Anita Stewart and has been recognized in Gold Medal Plates and Food Day Canada competitions. ABC Good Morning America and L.A. Entertainment profiled him for bringing ‘Le Whaf’ vaporizing innovation to North America from Europe.

Outside of the kitchen Norm is an avid food activist teacher and devoted dad to daughters Jade and Erika.

Patrick Garland

A graduate of the Dubrulle French Culinary School in Vancouver (now The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts) Ottawa-born Patrick Garland began his cooking career at Ottawa’s Clair de Lune. After sojourns in Banff Victoria Montréal Seattle Hawaii and Miami Garland moved back to Ottawa becoming Executive Chef at the much loved Maple Lawn restaurant. Over the years offering his expertise as a chef consultant he has helped open many restaurants in the nation’s capital. Returning many times to Clair de Lune his relationship with owner Adel Ayad would last until it closed its doors in 2005.

In 2003 Garland opened Absinthe Café to critical acclaim. Widely praised as “A bastion of fine gourmet cuisine in the heart of the nation’s capital” Absinthe Café has won three Epicurean awards from the Sommelier Guild a Silver Spoon Award and was named as one of the best dining experiences by food critic Pierre Jury from Le Droit. Garland is a long time passionate supporter of area farmers and his locally sourced menu features meats cheeses and produce from eastern Ontario and western Quebec fulfilling a commitment to eating well and preparing food of the people for the people.

Garland believes in giving back to the community. In 2011 he started the Benevolent Burger where $1 of every burger sold is donated to the Cornerstone Housing for Women in Ottawa. More recently he has donated his time and expertise by offering cooking classes and dinner with all proceeds going to the Parkdale Emergency Food Center in Ottawa.

Steve Mitton

Steve Mitton was already well known in the Ottawa culinary community for his straightforward and uncomplicated regional fare well before the 2008 inception of Murray Street KWC. A graduate from the Culinary Institute of Canada in Prince Edward Island Chef Mitton in a twist of fate began his chef career in Ottawa behind the stoves of Bistro 115 the same building that Murray Street is now housed.

He has always looked for the season’s best from local farmers and suppliers that he has researched and brings them unselfishly to his plates. He spent 16 years of his life in the Black Forest in Germany. Here he was introduced (for the sole purpose of affording his own beer) to the art of butchery and charcuterie the long-lasting influences of which show quite prominently throughout his menu. He also delivered pizza to which he attributes his good nature dazzling fashion sense and his uncanny ability to find your house.

John Taylor

John Taylor has had a lifelong love of cooking. His passion for food was nurtured from his earliest days by his mother and grandmother; whose influence is evident in much of his current practices as Chef and Owner of Domus Cafe.

Born in Lynn Lake Manitoba in 1967 John recalls the regular trips to small local family-run farms in pursuit of the freshest ingredients: all destined for use in the Taylor matrons’ kitchen. In a continuation of those traditions Chef Taylor has made it Domus’ mandate to help preserve family and small farm operations that practice organic and sustainable farming practices. He candidly attributes many of his own cooking successes to basics taught him by his grandmother.

John first started his cooking career at the age of 14 where his humble origins found him preparing pizzas and donairs in the West Edmonton Mall. After moving to Fredericton in 1987 and graduating from Fredericton High School John secured a job in the kitchen at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel.

It was on this very first day of work in a full-service kitchen that John was inspired to the realization that cooking was to be his life’s pursuit. John moved to Ottawa in 1989 to work at the yet unopened Novotel under Chef Norbert Cabot. John’s early skills in the kitchen caught the attention of Jean-Pierre Chalet who hired him as an apprentice for the Relics Chateau Inn at Manitou.

John spent two seasons at the Inn and it was here where he met his future wife Sylvia who was finishing her first year at the Stratford Chef School. After returning from a one-year cooking tour of the Barbados with Jean Pierre John was hired into his first Chef position by Jim Sorenti for the Westover Inn. This opportunity saw the start of John’s grassroots Canadian regional cuisine influence.

After four truly inspirational years and one son (Cameron Alexander) later John and Sylvia left Westover Inn and pursued a number of unique dining ventures each involving equal measures of challenge and success. In 1995 John returned to Ottawa for a position with Chantilly Haute Cuisine. Later that year two significant events took place: the birth of a second son – Graham Andrew – and the introduction of John Taylor to Domus. In 1997 Chef John Taylor took full ownership of Domus and has relentlessly pursued his vision of establishing a truly unique Canadian Regional Seasonal Cuisine establishment.