Mitchel Raphael on the death of Ottawa's best-loved chef

And Flaherty’s wife takes aim

Men in whiteMen in white

Dozens of Ottawa chefs, including Oliver Bartsch from 24 Sussex and Louis Charest from Rideau Hall, were at the funeral of Kurt Waldele, 61, who died of lymphatic cancer. Waldele was the executive chef at the National Arts Centre for more than 30 years, and most of the chefs in attendance had worked with him at some point in their careers. As the coffin was carried into Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, chefs in their white uniforms formed an honour guard. One was overheard saying only Waldele “could get all these chefs to leave their egos at the door.” A memorial case at the NAC showed photos of Waldele with Pope John Paul II and Mikhail Gorbachev. Many in Ottawa credit him with introducing Canadian food and wine to an international audience. “He inspired a generation of Canadian chefs but he also took the time to raise money to help animals in need, and for that I will miss him,” said Laureen Harper, who chairs fundraisers for the Ottawa Humane Society, a cause that was close to the chef’s heart. Mrs. Harper loved Waldele’s potatoes au gratin and when there was a big event she would ask him if he was serving them. Sometimes when they weren’t on the menu he’d sneak into the kitchen and whip some up. “They were simply the best in the world,” said Mrs. Harper. Among all the earnest tributes to Waldele at the funeral, the chef’s close friend Harvey Slippacoff slipped into his eulogy that Waldele’s favourite restaurant was, in fact, Red Lobster. Chef Michael Blackie succeeded Waldele as executive chef at the NAC in March.

Where’s security?

Last Tuesday on the Hill there was a huge Tamil demonstration. The Tamils were protesting the Sri Lankan government’s attack on separatist fighters, accusing it of genocide. One Hill staffer noted that normal Hill security seemed to have fallen apart: ministers’ cars were being directed by the Tamils. At the same time as that rally, the Congress of Armenian Canadians was in the East Block honouring MPs who had voted in 2003 to support a private member’s bill recognizing the Armenian genocide. There would have been even more genocide awareness that day on the Hill, but due to the Tamil demonstration a scheduled Holocaust memorial service had to be moved to another location. A stone’s throw away from Parliament, several ambulance vehicles were parked on a pedestrian-only street, but they weren’t protesting anything; they were part of a reception for the Emergency Medical Service Chiefs of Canada. NDP MP Peter Stoffer popped in and was put in an emergency chair for a demonstration. There were lots of offers to have someone hold his beer, but he seemed to prefer to hold on to it.

Day’s chess gameDay’s chess game

Heritage Minister James Moore was a happy camper at the Entertainment Software Association of Canada’s reception, which had on hand a host of video games. Moore keeps an Xbox 360 in Ottawa and another one at his B.C. home. He also has multiple copies of his favourite games, such as Rainbow Six: Vegas 2. After the video game reception, Moore helped launch the NAC’s B.C. Scene festival, highlighting the province’s arts. The reception showcased food from B.C. “This is the one night you can eat seafood in Ottawa,” joked Moore. At the same event, Stockwell Day played a game of chess with Death. Death won, said the minister, who claims the actor cheated. “And you can’t cheat Death,” quipped Day, who is an avid chess player. He used to offer his kids money if they could beat him at the game. Eventually they all did. Now he is making the same offer to his grandchildren.

Flaherty knows his wife means himFlaherty knows his wife means him

At an Ottawa pub meet-and-greet for Jim Flaherty’s wife, Christine Elliott, who is running for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, the candidate noted the need to abandon old campaigns and look to the future to win. “She’s referring to me,” quipped Flaherty, who once served as an Ontario MPP.

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