Chef John Taylor plating with team at Duelling Chefs

Domus Cafe's John Taylor & team plating

This past Monday was the 6th installment of the 2011 Duelling Chefs season, and unbelievably it was another extremely close battle.  The challenger was John Taylor representing Domus Cafe in the Byward Market (he also owns Taylor’s Genuine Food & Wine Bar), a seasoned veteran in the Ottawa cullinary scene since the mid 1980s.  The secret ingredient was pineapple – a versatile yet tricky fruit to incorporate into 3-4 courses.
Domus was able to capture the 2nd win against Juniper this year – but once again only after the scoring had to go to the tie-breaking secret judge.  Both kitchens served delicious and creative food all evening – it was a real treat.  For the full write-up, check out Ottawa Citizen’s Food Editor, Ron Eade’s blog post.  As usual, here are my highlights in photos:
Chef Norm Aitken - Juniper Kitchen

I love this shot of Juniper's Norm Aitken prepping for service

Domus Cafe

Domus Cafe's Amuse: Coconut milk squash soup, compressed pineapple and chicken bacon.

Juniper

Another one of my favorite candids - Juniper's Pete Robblee. And it's not that I favour Juniper, their side of the kitchen just has much nicer lighting.

Domus Cafe

Domus Cafe's Roasted halibut with roasted chamomile syrup, beet puree, pineapple salsa and sweet potato pave. I absolutely loved the colours in this dish - not to mention the flavours.

Juniper

Juniper's meat dish: Chicken breast roulade with chicken leg and foie gras, pineapple chile sabayon, and pineapple chicken shot.

Juniper

Juniper's Dessert : Pineapple pudding chaumeur, pineapple candy and pina colada sorbet.

Outside view of TaylorThis past week I went to Taylor’s Food & Wine Bar in old Ottawa South to do some food & environmental photos for their new (coming soon) website, as well as some chef portraits for the bio area.  This was a pretty tough assignment.  Between having very limited space to work (read: none), as well as some guests who weren’t really comfortable with my presence (more on that later), it wasn’t easy to execute what I wanted and balance other needs.  On top of that, the restaurant’s owner, John Taylor (who also owns Ottawa’s Domus Restaurant), is one of the most highly respected restauranteurs in the Ottawa area (on top of being a super nice guy), so I really didn’t want to dissapoint.

The food shots turned out really well – though it’s such gorgeous food, it wasn’t really that hard.  I’m also really pleased with the chef’s portraits.  Although they were really not digging the idea of being in front of the camera, I think the guys totally rocked it.  As for the environmental shots inside – I have decided that I’m going to make a trip back.  As I mentioned above, there was a couple in the restaurant who weren’t comfortable with photos of the interior while they were there, so it kind of threw a wrench into the plan.  But, these things happen, and I’m glad we asked instead of finding out the awkward way.  I did manage to get some interior shots after they left, but at that point the place was winding down and there wasn’t the same ‘vibe’ that I’m sure Taylor’s is looking to showcase on their new site.  And hey – they let me eat the incredible food I was shooting afterwards…that makes the decision to offer a trip back that much easier.  (note to future clients…wink!)

Chef portrait at John Taylor

Chef Portrait at John Taylor

Charcuterie board, Taylor

Duck Salad @ Taylor

Seared scallops - Taylor

Yorkville engagement session with Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

In case you missed the “sneak peek” a couple of days ago, Matt and Chelsea are a super fun couple from Ottawa (well, Matt’s from Kingston…but that’s in the 613, so close enough), who now live in Toronto.

I’m stoked to shoot their wedding this summer in Ottawa at the historic Chateau Laurier Hotel, it is going to be a hoot.  With 7 or 8 attendants (a few of whom are stand-up comics) on each side of one of the most crazy couples I’ve met, how can it not be?  As I mentioned in the preview post, Matt and I got together about 2 years ago to do his acting head shots, and we hit it off right away.  The day after he and Chelsea came back from their trip to the Mayan Riviera where Matt proposed, I got a call to get together and discuss wedding photography plans.  I could immediately see the great connection that the two of them had, and I was thrilled that they booked me on the spot for their big day.

We originally had everything booked to do their engagement shoot in Mexico’s Mayan Riviera this past February while I was already down there (a great excuse for them to go back and visit), but between Chelsea starting a new course at school and their hotel suffering a tragic natural gas explosion, they decided that it would be smart to change their plans.  This past weekend I was heading through Toronto on my way to a photo workshop in Buffalo, N.Y., so I reached-out to Matt & Chelsea to see if they were around, and the timing (and weather) worked out beautifully!  As luck would have it, it was the 1st beautiful spring day of 2011 in Toronto…these cats have luck on their side!

We met-up in the trendy Yorkville area (where they frequently hang-out) and spent about an hour walking around and getting some cool pictures.  It was a great afternoon, and I think we all had a blast.  There are few things more rewarding than having clients become good friends, and I have a feeling that I’m going to be meeting these guys for a drink or two whenever I pass through the Yorkville area.  Congrats, guys…can’t wait for the wedding day!

Here are a handful of the photos, be sure to click on the slideshow at the bottom!

Yorkville engagement session with Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

Individual shots of Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

On top of the rock on Cumberland Street Yorkville engagement session with Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

Alley beside Pottery Barn Yorkville engagement session with Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

Cumberland Street parking garage Yorkville engagement session with Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

Royal Ontario Museum Yorkville engagement session with Matt and Chelsea by Ottawa Wedding Photographer, Christian Lee

Rock in front of Hemmingway

Slideshow music: “The way I am” – Ingrid Michaelson

  • Ulmer Studios - Love the b/w image! That needs to be a massive canvas in their living room!
    Not too mention the eyes on these two, wow when they have babies lookout!

    -J+AReplyCancel

  • Tee - wow, great stuff! i am in love with the black and white one!ReplyCancel

  • Sachin Khona - Great engagement shots! Congrats to the couple 😉ReplyCancel

  • adam - Wonderful! I love the BW one with the circle thing.ReplyCancel

  • Porter Watkins - loove love love that one with the circle architecture, lol i dont know how else to describe it, but its awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Christian - The B&W circle thing was actually an opening in a 2nd level parking garage. I called Matt’s cell and had him leave it on speaker so I could still direct them from downstairs and across the street. Glad I’m not the only one who likes it!

    Thanks for the great feedback, everyone.ReplyCancel

  • Brad Ross - Sweet. Love the green crazy window angle shots.ReplyCancel

  • ALMA - Great engagement set.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - I adore that shot of them sitting on the stone.. awesome work!ReplyCancel

  • Timothy Kaldas - Great session Christian. I love all the use you made of the surrounding architecture in the shots. The lines really come together to enhance the images.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Nan - Love me some wind pick-up in her hair in the second image. Great work.ReplyCancel

  • Teresa K - These shots feel so…connected. I love them oh so much!!ReplyCancel

  • michelle - so beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • Salwa - The B&W one in the circle should be a large canvas print for sure! Beautifully executed!ReplyCancel

  • Amber Hughes - Super cute couple – love the shot of them sitting in front of the building. Awesome work!ReplyCancel

  • Leeds Wedding Photographer - Lovely looking couple, the shot in the circle is superb, great job :-)ReplyCancel

  • Luis Godinez - Great session, love the shot of them hugging while she kicks her legs up. :)ReplyCancel