Ottawa: Perth inspires what to Eat this Week

( -- You may have heard about The Stop, Toronto’s innovative new community food centre that took a cramped, dreary, dispiriting food bank and turned it into lively community centre with gardens, a kitchen, a greenhouse and a farmers’ market. Nick Saul’s book The Stop has been making news since it came out in March and he’s been on the speaker’s circuit.


But did you know that the first spinoff of The Stop opened in Perth a year and a half ago? Perth’s The Table Community Food Centre has been the model for other centres (such as The Local in Stratford) and its delicious free dinners, children’s cooking groups, community gardens and emphasis on local food has set such an inspiring example, some of its ideas have been adopted by the original group at The Stop.


Over the last year, 1,741 people have benefited from programs at Perth’s The Table — a huge effect in a population of just 6,000. While funding comes from a variety of sources, the big fundraiser of the year is an event called Barns, Farms & Wicked Chefs, which was held for the first time last August.


“It was just a brilliant evening,” says Judy Dempsey, the talented chef who ran Perth’s acclaimed The Hungry Planet restaurant for a dozen years. “It was one of those perfect summer evenings with golden light, and the live the music and all the wonderful food.”


Dempsey is now Community Chef at The Table and she will be one of eight or nine chefs (up from seven last year) serving their creations at food stations at this year’s event. Other chefs this year will include Kyle Woods, who just opened a Perth restaurant called The Masonry, Andrew Chatham of Whalesbone and Jesse Denton of Santé. Ingredients will come from such outstanding local producers as Seed to Sausage, Clarmell on the Rideau, Milkhouse Farm and Ludwig Fine Chocolate.


I’d expect all the eating to be excellent (as will be live jazz and folk and roots music), but I wouldn’t miss Dempsey’s station, where she will be serving tiny versions of the local lamb burgers that were in such demand at The Hungry Planet. And now she’s shared her fabulous recipe with us so you can make them at home too.


Barns, Farms & Wicked Chefs

What: The second annual benefit for Perth’s The Table Community Food Centre, the first spinoff of Toronto’s The Stop Community Food Centre

One of: Five lively on-farm events to be held this year to to raise money to bring healthy, sustainable food into low-income communities across Canada

When: Saturday, Aug. 24, from 5:30 to 10 p.m.

Where: Ecotay, a beautiful farm that’s been converted to an indoor-outdoor reception area, 10 minutes west of Perth

Cost: $100 per person, with a $70 tax receipt (alcohol is extra)

Tickets: or 613-485-6434

More: (the Perth group) or

The Hungry Planet’s Famous Lamb Burgers

Makes: 4 large patties

1 lb (450 g) ground local lamb

1 large egg

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

2 tsp (10 mL) minced local garlic

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped Italian parsley

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped garlic chives

4 to 5 crusty rolls

Herbed feta, lemon-garlic mayonnaise and fresh tomato relish (recipes below)

1. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and shape into 4 or 5 patties.

2. Chill until ready to grill.

3. Grill on gas or charcoal until interior temperature is 71 C (160 F).

4. Serve on a crusty roll with lemon-garlic mayo spread on the bottom half of the bun and herbed feta and fresh tomato relish on top of the patty.

Herbed Feta

Makes: about 3/4 cup (175 mL)

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped Italian parsley

½ cup (125 mL) Clarmell on the Rideau soft chèvre

¼ cup (50 mL) crumbled Milkhouse Farm and Dairy feta

1 tsp (5 mL) dried Greek oregano

1. Combine all ingredients and set aside.

Lemon-Garlic Mayo

Makes: about 1 cup (250 mL)

2 tsp (10 mL) minced local garlic

Zest of 2 lemons

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped Italian parsley

1 cup (250 mL) mayonnaise

1. Stir minced garlic, lemon zest and juice and parsley into the mayonnaise.

2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Fresh Tomato Relish

Makes: about 1 cup (250 mL)

1 cup (250 mL) chopped fresh tomatoes

1 tbsp (15 mL) Kricklewood Farm sunflower oil

Pinch of salt

½ tsp (2 mL) dried Greek oregano or 1 tsp (5 mL) chopped fresh oregano

1. Combine all ingredients and set aside.

Find sources for local lamb, Clarmell chèvre, Milkhouse feta and Kricklewood sunflower oil at

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(Photo: Bruno Schlumberger)



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