8 a.m., July 13)
Kitchen raises the culinary bar in the east end
By Fred Sherwin
Kitchen is the brainchild of Executive Chef
Mark Steele who earned his chops working for
the Fairmount Hotel chain. Photo courtesy
of OCCO Kitchen
you love food and you live in Orléans, then I would suggest
you make plans to visit the OCCO Kitchen restaurant on
Innes Road and discover what hundreds of food lovers living
in the east end and points elsewhere already know – the
place is amazing.
famous for their fish tacos, and burgers (the latter are
made from Ontario-sourced AAA ground chuck and served
on buns made in-house), OCCO recently introduced a new
menu which includes a number of interesting selections
like the Portobello Mushroom burger, the Ahi Tuna Nicoise
salad, and the Pickled Beet and Charred Squash salad.
exciting of all is the new Taco Bar which boasts a tortilla
machine that produces different flavoured tortillas. Taco
fillings include Smoked Beef Brisket; Craft Beer Battered
Cod; Braised Pork Belly; and Sweet Potato Tempura.
genius behind OCCO, which stands for the Orléans Catering
Co., is executive chef and co-owner Mark Steele whose
relationship with food goes back to his formative years
growing up in his native Newfoundland where he bounced
around from restaurant to restaurant in St. John’s before
attending culinary school.
graduating he was immediately hired by the Fairmount Hotel
chain and moved up through the ranks working at the chain’s
properties in Jasper and Bermuda before finally being
hired as the Chef de cuisine at the Château Laurier. In
between he served as executive chef for Cara Operations
at the Edmonton International Airport.
an executive chef comes with a lot of responsibilities.
It also means less time in the kitchen and more time poring
over budgets and having to deal with staff- ing issues.
the early success, Steele became increasingly frustrated
and limited. At the same time a steady stream of friends
and acquaintances were hiring him to cater their events.
his thoughts turned to opening a small restaurant where
he could showcase his culinary talents and use the kitchen
to broaden the catering business.
living in Kanata at the time, he found a location on St.
Joseph Blvd., and thus OCCO Kitchen was born. The small
take-out restaurant became an overnight sensation and
soon folks were coming from far and wide to sample his
unique tacos and out-of-this-world burgers.
also didn’t hurt that they were rated as the best restaurant
in Ottawa on Trip Advisor for more than a year. The only
problem was that the restaurant’s success put a tremendous
stress on the catering business mainly due to having to
share the limited kitchen space.
a year, Steele was already con-templating opening another
much larger location. That’s when the space on Innes Road
became available in the former location of Yummy Yummy
next to the Starbucks and LCBO store.
my last visit to OCCO Kitchen, I tried the Scallop Crudo
prepared raw in lime juice and served with chili, lime
and coconut along with a bowl of freshly made tortilla
chips and a side of mango salsa. In word they were scrumptious.
Among the best I’ve ever had.
my main course I had the Ahi Tuna Nicoise salad which
came with two portions of Ahi Tuna and a sunny-side quail
egg on top. Among the other ingredients were perfectly
cooked baby potatoes, several slices of avocado, Caperberries,
olives, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and French beans.
salads go, it was quitesubstantial and could satisfy event
the largest of appetites.
as it was her first visit to the restaurant, my dining
companion started off with a fish taco, which she thoroughly
enjoyed, and had the Candied Bacon Cheese Burger for the
main course. We were both too full to enjoy one of OCCO’s
delicious deserts, but we made a pact to return at a later
would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that Steele
takes prided in supporting several of Ottawa’s thriving
craft breweries, including Orléans own Stray Dog Brewery.
The beverage menu is almost as eclectic as the dinner
menu. It’s hard to go wrong no matter what you order at
its rise in stature and notoriety, OCCO Kitchen attracts
food lovers from across the region, so making a reservation
has become a must on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, espe-cially
for larger parties. You can visit their website at www.occokitchen.com.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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