A column by Amanda Burger
On Saturday March 7, I attended my very first TLC Soup Fest in Kemptville and I must congratulate Lynn and Terry Ford for this wonderful event. There are so many reasons to attend this fundraising event: raising money for local community needs, getting to know local restaurants and what they serve, tasting delicious and eclectic soups, only $10 ($5 for children) to attend, bidding on locally made and donated desserts, and gathering with so many people to enjoy the whole thing! I like events that promote local business and bring the community together; TLC Soup Fest does all that and more!
The room was filled to capacity and, except for one person, everyone I met seemed to have attended this event before. Some brought their own trays to hold their soup tasters (a small plastic cup of soup from each restaurant) and Tammy (picture below) had one made especially for the event.
The tray is a great idea as everyone tastes all 11 of the participating local restaurants’ soups, and the tray meant you could get all 11 soups and then take a seat and taste them all.
The other person in attendance who I met that had never attended before was so excited to be there. An older gentleman, he had been trying to attend for 12 years (since it started in 2008), but it had never coincided with his busy schedule. “I love this!”, he told me. “Each soup is amazing. I am definitely coming back next year.”
Three local foodies were the judges: Chef Reshad Rezai, Chef Tim Wasylko and columnist Diana Fisher. The judges awarded prizes on Best Soup and Most Creative Soup, but my favourite aspect of this event was that the guests voted on the Peoples’ Choice Awards; after tasting the soups, the guests voted on two criteria: “taste” and “presentation”.
Peoples’ Choice for Taste:
First place was won by Au P’tit Castor for their French Canadian Pea Soup which was amazing. The P’tit Castor’s chef added a piece of cheese curd to each taster, but what really made it special was (believe it or not) the addition of a teaspoon of white vinegar! This truly made the pea soup flavour jump forward leaving the whole taste clean, fresh and bountiful.
Second place went to The New Rideau Restaurant for Pietro’s Seafood Soup (which won the judges’ 1st place). As soon as you walked into the North Grenville Municipal Centre where the event was held, it was this soup’s aroma that permeated the air, summoning your taste buds to attention. This was truly a worthy soup: thick and flavourful with each mouthful a banquet in itself.
My favourite soup was neither of these, but it did win third place for taste from the people. I have been to this restaurant once and it is a favourite restaurant of a friend of mine. My favourite soup was created by the Brigadoon Restaurant. Their French Onion Soup with Mini Croutons & Gruyère Cheese was to die for! Each small taster included a slice of toasted baguette with melted Gruyère and the onion soup was a beautiful dark broth that tantalized the taste buds with a rich, ultra-savoury flavour. Often French onion soup can be too sweet, but this was not the case here. A slight sweetness tinged the edges of each mouthful while the warmth of the savoury evened out the experience and the melted Gruyère on bread brought the flavour depth to the status of generous.
For presentation, the Peoples’ Choices were: First place, The New Rideau Restaurant’s Pietro’s Seafood Soup, second went to Simply Baked Catering’s Sausage, Potato and Spinach Soup; which I was surprised didn’t make it into the Peoples’ Choice Tasting winners. This soup was a light-tasting soup with the sausage being used as a complement to the potatoes and spinach rather than what one normally finds, where the sausage is all powerful. This was a lovely smooth-tasting soup that would be great with freshly baked multi-grain bread. Yum! Third place went to Little Sisterz’s Smoke Chicken with Double Smoke Cheddar. Also on site was Cheryl Wilcox’s Mom’s Homemade Salsa which is getting more and more popular as people try it. It must be the no sugar and no preservatives that made it taste so hearty.
The TLC Soup Fest is one of the most original and balanced events I have been to where the intent is to raise money for the community while promoting local restaurants. Good work Lynn and Terry Ford for all your work bringing this event to us!