Tulips & Maple: Learning the 3 T’s after 20 years of fab food

The Champagne ceiling was a highlight of the Tulips & Maple 20th anniversary party on June 15

After two decades in the “cater-taining” business, the culinary couple behind Tulips & Maple — Mark van der Pas and Kristine van der Pas-Norenius — have learned a few lessons of success.

One of the stilt walkers who served the Champagne ceiling

And at their 20th anniversary party last week, they shared some with their guests.

One that stuck out? Follow the three T’s: Trust, truth and taste.

Server with Surf n' Turf: Chilled shrimp mousse with carpaccio

Local Tourist Ottawa checked out the food-filled fest, along with more than a few dozen others. It’s evident that Tulips & Maple definitely know how to throw a party. (Could have something to do with catering so many over the years ….)

But beyond the amazing food, the fun was in the details. Coming back to the rule of letters, the event was planned to a ‘T’.

From a note-stuffed bun that welcomed guests and told them about a clue-based scavenger hunt and the “champagne ceiling” served by staff on stilts, to a pepper-infused rye cocktail served with the flair bartending styles of Steve Benson, the party will filled with creative touches.

Since Mark and Kristine met and fell in love before starting their business, it is fitting that marriage is a good way to describe a lot of what Tulips & Maple does. Their food is a great blend of flavour and fun, their combination of passion and professionalism is the reason why they’re likely Ottawa’s best-known catering companies and even their name — Tulips & Maple — is a mix of the couple’s two backgrounds: Dutch and Canadian.

The uber-cool 'live' salad cone station

The lettuce wall for the 'live' salad cone station

The final product!

LTOttawa spoke with Tulips & Maple in advance of last Wednesday’s party and learned that the company started out of a basement in Manotick in 1991. It’s now grown to employ more than 40 people and occupies an 8,000 square-foot space. Mark and Kris are also in the process of launching a sister company, Great Canadian Plates, to cater to the Capital Exhibition Centre come January 2012.

Still, the best way to understand what Tulips & Maple is all about is to check out the grub:

Duck Two Ways: Confit of duck leg served on a spicy black bean muffin topped with seared duck breast agulitte and an orange-anise gastrique

The Decadent One: Slow brasied ox tail in chianti wine and wrapped in a light pasta pillow served on a mini spoon

The Raw Deal: A selection of raw vegetables and herbs tossed in soya-cashew sauce

Mini lamb chop served with a mint-pomegranate walnut pesto

Nicoise in a Bite: Braised purple potato, hard boiled egg, black olive tapenade, seared tuna topped with friend caper and lemon gremolita

The Mini Pear: Mini pears stuffed with mascarpone cheese, dipped in silky butterscotch sauce and choice of assorted coatings

Oh! And check out Ron Eade’s Omnivore’s Ottawa blog for the other 19 lessons Mark and Kristine have learned over the years.

Do you know of a cool local company or business we should be highlighting? Send us a note at ltottawa@gmail.com.