Monday, 27 May 2013

Ottawa Foodie Challenge 2013 - Team Turnip & Bean!

Team Turnip & Bean dominating the "hug a local food blogger" challenge!

If you happen to follow Tina or myself on any of the various social media platforms you probably know that we have been super excited to compete in our very first Ottawa Foodie Challenge! This past Saturday the day was finally upon us and we ventured out to The Kavanaugh sales centre on Beechwood in order to meet our fellow competitors, receive our list of clues, and fuel up on some delicious croissants and coffee, provided by Art-Is-In Bakery (both Tina and I later regretted not snatching seconds for the road!). Unfortunately it was a little chilly out and we both opted to wear jackets over our turnip & bean team shirts!

The rules were fairly straight forward: there were approximately ninety clues, each of which described a local restaurant, store, person, or other item you of which you needed to photograph. Each team of two had from 10:00AM to 5:00PM to solve the clues, travel to the required destinations, take pictures, and finally upload them and submit them. There were a total of six mandatory clues which needed to be solved in order to qualify for the grand prize (which was worth over $1,000 and included a Vitamix blender, a giant jar of nutella, and a gift basket, and several other fun foodie prizes!). There were also several photo contests competitors could win with fun themes like "scenic selfies," "daring and brave," "beautiful and delicious," and the category in which we won: "kitchen party!"

Ain't no party like a Kitchen Party!

After the challenge began, Tina and I decided to dedicate a good fifteen minutes to reading through and solving the clues that we knew off the top of our heads (which turned out to be quite a few, thankfully!). We then tried to quickly categorize clues based on the area we were likely to find them, and then set off. We ended up trying to complete clues in the Vanier/Beechwood area surrounding the start point first, and then travelled to the Market, Downtown/Elgin, Preston/Chinatown, Hintonburg, and finally ended our day in Westboro. Our day consisted of a lot of speed walking, confused store owners ("you're the second person to ask me if we carry geoduck!"), on-the-fly detective work and of course, lots of laughs. I honestly couldn't ask for a better and more knowledgeable foodie partner in Tina. She was down for every challenge (she even attempted to stick an entire piece of pizza in her mouth!), and knew obscure things, such as the ingredients to a mirepoix (maybe I just need to brush up on my foodie knowledge)!

Tina hulas while I get my guac on

We ran out of time at the end of the day and despite having solved a number of the clues we just could not risk spending extra time on travel when we still had to upload all of our photos and calculate our score. We ended up heading home around 4:00PM and had everything ready to send in within 45 minutes (I'm super happy we decided to do this, as we heard that other teams did not manage to upload and send in all of their pictures in time!).

The after party was hosted at Urban Element where we shared a couple glasses of wine and sampled some of Urban Element's new tiffin box dishes (my favourites were the beef kofta and then the brownie served with mango kulfi). The judges poured through all of the entries in a couple of hours as everyone in the room eagerly awaited the results. We found out that we won the "Kitchen Party" photo contest and graciously accepted our $50.00 gift certificate to Zest Cafe in Gatineau along with our super cute trophy!

Our final score for the day was 625 points, and the grand prize winners came in with a whopping 715 points! Tina and I both had a blast and were more than happy to come home with over $200 in prizes (Tina also won a Supply & Demand gift certificate with a clue she submitted prior to the big day!). We are both looking forward to trying out some of the new restaurants and stores we encountered during the day (stay tuned for a post from Tina!). We would also like to extend a huge thank-you to Carolynn and Larissa and all of the sponsors for putting on such a fun, educational, and community-building event that supports such a great cause; the Ottawa Food Bank!

If you are interested in learning more about the community, love food, and enjoy a healthy dose of competition I highly suggest competing in 2014! I know Tina and I will both find a way to stay involved!

- Bean (Alex)

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