A visionary cook, always thirsty for new challenges, Dominique Dufour has been at helm of Norca Restaurant & Bar since its opening in the spring. The menu developed by Dominique showcases Canadian produce and gives her the opportunity to create a unique gastronomic experience. We met with her to know more about her vision and philosophy.
How has gastronomy evolved since you started working in the industry?
When I started there was a preference for a type of cuisine that was closer to traditional French cuisine. Cooking was very technical with a lot of waste, the visual aspect was essential as was the use of several "superior" products imported from Europe. Now, chefs tend to focus on simple food inspired by our history and our terroir. Local products and producers are showcased.
You have very close relationships with your producers. What role do these relationships have in your work? What is the importance of maintaining close relationships with producers?
These relationships play an extremely important role in my work. They are the pillar of our cuisine. When a producer is unable to supply a certain item, it’s important to be understanding, to modify our menu according to the seasons but also to droughts or harvests. The value of a relationship of mutual support and sharing between the chef and the producer is paramount. Without the symbiosis between these two entities, true local cuisine can not exist. This arrangement also heightens creativity. As a chef it allows the creation of cuisine as vibrant as the terroir.
Your cooking is hyperlocal. Why is it so important to you?
For several reason. First, to reduce our carbon footprint. The transport of tropical fruits and vegetables is extremely damaging to the environment. The reduction of mileage between the production site and the consumption site is therefore essential to ensuring a greener future.
Second, to encourage the local and Canadian economy. I firmly believe that buying is about voting and that by making thoughtful choices about the producers we choose to encourage, we help advance the Canadian economy. It's an investment in our future.
You recently moved to the Ottawa area. How do you view the city’s gastronomy? What are some favourites?
I love the region. My favourites are small restaurants full of love like Chez Edgar where Marisol Foucault creates vibrant plates each week. Oz Kafé is also very good for its inventive wine list and Stofa never fails to surprise.
What do you think Norca brings to Ottawa’s food scene?
A fresh look at Canadian gastronomy influenced by my many travels while staying connected with the many small businesses and producers in the region.
To book your table at Norca, click here.