Chef Andrée Riffou has a supreme passion for food and is the owner of C’est Bon Cooking. After attending Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and Paris, Chef Andrée founded C’est Bon in 2008, seeking to share her passion with others. She shared with us recently a little bit about her food-focused business that continues to bloom.
Tell us a little bit about the history of C’est Bon Cooking. Where’d the idea come from?
After completing my Cordon Bleu training with the “Grand Diplôme” of cuisine and pastry, I decided to share my passion for food and gathering people around the kitchen table via cooking classes, food tours and corporate culinary events. And C’est Bon Cooking was born.
How would you describe Ottawa’s food scene? What’s your favourite foodie neighbourhood?
Ottawa has a thriving food scene. We are so fortunate to have witnessed the spectacular growth in the food industry in the last 15 years. Now we are excited to see that a new generation of Ottawa-trained chefs is working jointly with local farms. The focus and pride in local food gives us high hopes for the future of our food scene.
We love to show off several Edible Ottawa neighbourhoods such as the ByWard Market, Wellington West, Preston Street and the up and coming Hintonburg. It is very hard to pick one as a favourite as each area has its own distinctive charm (and delicious food).
We’ve experienced one of your food tours, but how do you describe them to newcomers? What’s been your most memorable tour to date? Any interesting stories?
I think the best ever description came from one of our participants, Michelle, who sent us the following note:
C’est Bon Cooking Food Tours are so much more than a superb experience of culinary edification. They let participants connect directly with the people behind the food, those who are responsible for promoting culinary and gastronomic excellence in Ottawa. As an Ottawa transplant, I am being introduced to the villages of Ottawa, the precious pieces of the mosaic that make Ottawa a vibrant and delicious city. I finally feel a real and active connection within my Ottawa community. Great for my tummy, needed for my heart and soul!
You’ve also started up your cooking classes again. What can people expect from that? Who’s the ideal student?
Our cooking classes are for everybody with an interest in cooking. The ideal student is one who comes to class with an open mind and an interest in learning new recipes and techniques that will make life in the kitchen not only simpler, but more delicious. Inspiration, plenty of hands-on practice, and lots of tastings are guaranteed! We are currently getting into the holiday season and the Holiday Time Saver Cooking Classes are back. It’s all about preparing ahead: appetizers, main courses, and, of course, lots of baking.
You’ve got a big event coming up on Nov. 19, the “Gastro Rally.” How will this be different than your other food tours?
This tour will address many needs in one, day-long event, including:
- We will cover several of Ottawa’s most exciting food neighbourhoods, from Beechwood Avenue to the ByWard Market to Wellington West.
- Our guests will be given privileged access to Ottawa’s best food businesses … They will meet owners and chefs, enjoys tastings and have access to exclusive promotions and specials.
- Contrary to our usual 2.5-hour Edible Ottawa experiences, participants will be able to SHOP on November 19th!
- This will be a day full of inspiration for your own holiday menus and gift ideas for all the foodies on your list. (If people shop for themselves, we’ll never tell!)
- This will be a “rendez-vous” style tour where guests will travel individually from one neighbourhood to another, meet with the group at a pre-arranged time and spot and start shopping (and eating). We do encourage people to carpool however.
Is there a better way to get a start on shopping for the holiday season?
C’est Bon Cooking is also heavily involved with Savour Ottawa, which is all about local food. Why do you think this is important? What local food would you say Ottawa is best known for?
We think that eating local is the key to freshness and goodness. Cooking with local ingredients means simplifying your cuisine since ingredients are at the peak of their flavour to start with. Ottawa is known for a lot of great food. We are lucky to have berries, including cranberries, great local beef and pork, greens to die for and root vegetable galore! One way to find them is to have a look at the Savour Ottawa’s list of members and their products.
Describe your perfect day in Ottawa.
My perfect day starts with an early visit to the market, just as the merchants are setting up. Produce and other ingredients are at their best and it gives me a chance to ask questions to the producers and the shopkeepers. My menu is modified several times as I make new discoveries and get excited about the meal ahead. I’d top off my visit with a croissant and an espresso before heading back to the kitchen to prepare a feast for the day. Eating together with family and friends at a nicely set table completes this perfect day in the life of Chef Andrée.
Sounds delish! If you’re interested in learning more about C’est Bon Cooking — whether registering for a cooking class or food tour — be sure to check out their website.