Suhel Abraham started working at Norca in September 2019 as a sous-chef and now leads the kitchen of the renowned Ottawa establishment located in Le Germain Hotel Ottawa. He is currently devoting his summer to developing his next menu and searching for interesting local products to use. Here’s our interview with the leader of the kitchen.
Where does your interest in cooking come from?
I grew up in the family restaurant. We had a diner where we served breakfast and lunch. I helped wherever I could: I served at tables; I worked a little in the kitchen. This is how I discovered my passion for cooking. A few years later, I opened a restaurant with my brother. We also had a small coffee shop. When we decided to end our collaboration, I enrolled at the Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Ottawa to learn French cuisine. If you want to cook, you have to learn the French techniques, that's the basics.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I cook what makes me happy. I serve dishes that put a smile on your face. This is my vision of gastronomy.
What are some ingredients that you like to work with?
At Norca, we offer a Canadian cuisine from the North. We work a lot with seasonal ingredients from local producers. I don't have a favorite ingredient. For me, if a product is fresh, it's a great ingredient and I want to work with it. I’d like to be able to change the menu every season depending on the harvest.
What can we expect from the new menu planned for the fall?
I am still in the brainstorming and creation stage. I can share an idea I have for a fall salad: I can see torched peaches, sous vide maple syrup, crumbled hazelnut and local goat cheese topped with balsamic vinaigrette. I want it to be as local as possible.
I would also like to have more seafood on the menu, like octopus, for example. Or oysters! It's a challenge because of the availability of these fair trade products and because some we can’t find in Canada.
I would really like to put pheasant on the menu, I’ve always liked to work with it. It would be delicious with a wild rice!
How is the foodie scene in Ottawa?
I grew up in Ottawa and I very much love the city. The vibe is great and its people are awesome. We have a lot of multicultural restaurants and people love them. I’ve seen many ethnic restaurants try out another cuisine than theirs. I think it’s exciting!