The Ottawa Foodie Challenge: a delicious day for an excellent cause

Carolynn Lacasse is a 24-year-old marketing manager at SWIX. She’s also the founder and director of the Ottawa Foodie Challenge, a coffee addict, fashion enthusiast, rookie foodie and token geek.

We asked Carolynn to tell us a little more about a delicious upcoming event – the second annual Ottawa Foodie Challenge happening on Sunday, November 13. 

How did the Ottawa Foodie Challenge get started?

Click the picture to visit the Ottawa Foodie Challenge website!

The Ottawa Foodie Challenge (OFC) actually took its inspiration from another blogger: Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet Blog. Adam is an uber-hilarious, New York City law student turned food reporter and blogger and ran an event similar to OFC called the New York Foodie Photo Challenge. I am an avid reader of his blog and read about the event and thought ‘THIS IS AWESOME.’ Ottawa isn’t as big as New York and might not have the same amount of “notorious” restaurants, but what I do know about this city is that its food community is PASSIONATE. What better way to celebrate what Ottawa has to offer then to run a similar challenge?

The Ottawa Foodie Challenge organizers: (l-r) Carolynn Lacasse, Kyle Braatz, Larissa Beznaczuk-Smyrnew and Matt Richling

Who else is helping you organize the challenge?

I enlisted a group of my close friends, all of whom bring different expertise to the table. Our team consists of Larissa Beznaczuk-Smyrnew, currently the catering manager of Essence Catering; Kyle Braatz, the CEO of Netgen, a local web design firm and a local philanthropist (Kyle biked across Canada to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society in 2009); and Matt Richling, a real estate agent with a passion for the community as well. We all pitched in to make the event work for its first go in 2010.

Why did you want to get involved?

What we wanted to do with the Ottawa Foodie Challenge was different than what Adam’s event did in New York. We wanted the OFC to bring to light something that most foodies might not think about when they are about to dig into their tasty meals. The Ottawa Food Bank provides emergency food to 43,000 people a month in our city and a whopping 35 per cent of those people are children. We thought we could help fight community hunger by enlisting those who are most passionate about food to help the cause. That’s why our event is run completely on sponsorships and donations; so we could donate 100 per cent of the money we raise to the Ottawa Food Bank.

The website says the challenge is like a scavenger hunt. How exactly does it work?

Two participants in front of one of last year's foodie destinations

This is how it all comes together. On the morning of the Ottawa Foodie Challenge, a list of 40 clues will be released on our blog. The clues will ask teams to venture to different Ottawa eateries, shops and other fun foodie destinations where they will perform different tasks. It’s the job of the participants to capture the completion of each clue with a photo. Each clue completion is associated with a different number of points. The team with the most points at the end of the day wins the challenge and the prize. There are a few catches though – not all the clues are worth the same number of points, and some tasks are more difficult to accomplish than others. You could win the challenge by collecting the highest number of points, but not necessarily completing all clues.

What were some of the fun tasks participants had to complete as part of last year’s challenge?

A participant from last year's challenge riding the Serious Cheese Beemster Cow

We have to admit, half the fun of running last year’s challenge was going through all the photos. Ottawa’s foodies are adventurous and creative, and some teams went above and beyond what we had imagined when snapping photos. Last year teams where asked to climb on the Beemster Cow at Serious Cheese, shuck an oyster somewhere that wasn’t at home and track down some of Ottawa’s finest chefs. The results were amazing!

What have you discovered about the Ottawa food community through your involvement with planning the Foodie Challenge?

I’ve discovered that our food community has an obsession for any new. Last year was our inaugural year and gastronomes that we had never met before were signing up to participate. The organizing team was shocked at the amount of sign-ups we received for our first year out of the gates. Food fanatics are always into trying plates they’ve never had before and exploring restaurants they’ve never visited. The same goes with trying new experiences – they are up for any new challenge.

Where can people go to find out more information about the foodie challenge?

If you want to find out more about the Ottawa Foodie Challenge visit our website, follow us on Twitter, check out our blog or like our Facebook Page!

We loved last year’s photos so much that we thought we would share a few more with you…


Thanks for the information, Carolynn. I can’t wait to participate in this year’s challenge with my food-loving roommate!

You can still sign-up to take part in the Ottawa Foodie Challenge – it’s easy, just visit their website. May the best foodie win!