Red’s Recommendations: The Red Apron
Many times on my blog and in my social media I have shared how I love, and I how important I find it, to shop local and support local suppliers. Whether I am moving to a new city, or travelling to a new country, there is nothing I love more than discovering the shops, restaurants and ‘it’ food places.
When we moved to Ottawa I was a little concerned that a smaller city like this one wouldn’t have the best food scene. Luckily for me, I was happily surprised, and can confidently say that in the two years we have lived here the food scene has blossomed even more. New restaurants and precious little store-front shops of local suppliers popping up all over.
Because of my profession, I’m frequently asked where I shop, where I buy my food, where I workout and what my favourite restaurants are in the city. I’m always happy to share my favourites, so I figured there was no better way to share it than on my blog! So, welcome the Red’s Recommendations edition of Ottawa’s finest! I’ll be sharing some of my favourite gyms, studios, shops and restaurants about how I keep up my holistic health.
The Red Apron was one of my first Ottawa discoveries; partially because it is located down the street form us and partially because I had heard so many great things about it! Located right in Centretown, this gourmet food shoppe offers a large section of fresh and frozen prepared take-home dinners, soups, salads, artisanal breads, as well as a variety of locally produced products. Their focus is on “Real Food – Well Prepared”, and that is exactly what they do.
Every time I walk into the Red Apron I am excited. I’m anticipating the aromas of home cooked meals, the opportunity to sample a local treat, and can’t wait to see what recipes their chefs have whipped us for us to try. The atmosphere is always warm and friendly, as a I walk around filling my red basket with food, I watch the the mothers, fathers, seniors, singles and students all selecting a meal or two to take home, and it makes me happy to know people are eating well.
One thing I truly love about Red Apron is their focus on ingredients from local farmers, producers and small family businesses in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Their meats are locally sourced, hormone and antibiotic free, while they ensure that all of their dried goods (beans, rices, flours, etc..) are organic. They source fresh pesticide-free produce from local suppliers, and when in season source produce from local growers. Although there are some staple meals on their menu, the menu changes seasonally, ensuring everything is made from scratch. Although they do not offer custom meal creation, their menu does feature vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free options, and ensures that all ingredients are listed on all of their labels. What more could a girl ask for!
As a nutritionist, I’m always an advocate for cooking your own meals, however when life gets crazy the Red Apron is my personal back-up plan. I tend to keep the fridge stocked with a few options for us at home for a quick and nutritious dinner. Since their meals are portioned with one and two serving options, it makes it dining for one really easy and ensures there is no food waste when we are home alone. Given the quality of the food, the meals are incredibly well priced at between $7.99 and $9.99 for a single portion, and $17.95 and $19.95 for a double portion. In addition to their store front location, Red Apron also offers a meal delivery service for those who can’t get to the shoppe location. To date, I’ve tried a good number of their meals, but some of my favourites include the Southwest Black Bean, Corn & Sweet Potato Salad, South Indian Style Beef Stew, Whalesbone Salmon, Za’atar Chicken and Korean Chicken with Cabbage… just to name a few. While they are heating in the oven, I like to prepare a little steamed veg or a simple salad as an added side because you can never really get enough vegetables.
Recently I caught up with one of the Red Apron’s lovely owners, Jennifer, who shared a little bit more about the business and her personal passion for food. Check out our interview below.
What do you want people to experience when they visit Red Apron?
I want them to step into a happy place, full of great smells, and to be treated with enthusiasm and respect by people who love what they do for a living.
What’s your ultimate goal for the business?
To change the way people eat. I want our customers to understand the connection between food, their health, the health of the community and the world we live in. I want them to understand that how they spend their food dollars is an important statement about what their priorities are. I want to create a safe and healthy work environment for our staff where they can learn, grow, and be creative. Ultimately I want my business to be a place that I enjoy going to every day, and I do!
Describe what you are looking to create in the community in 3 words?
Wow…3 words…not sure I can do it. Healthy, delicious food. Our current tag line is ‘Real food – prepared well.’ 4 words!
Do you adapt recipes and meals to seasonal ingredients?
We don’t really adapt recipes, we change the menu seasonally. There are some things that we will only cook at specific times of the year. Our menus change daily, weekly, seasonally and we may cook something today that you won’t see appear on our menu for a full year.
What’s your most popular product or item you sell?
I think if we stopped cooking the Braised ‘Fitzroy’ Beef Shepherd’s Pie, there might be a revolt of some sort. But I have had three people this week ask for the Thai Curry Chicken Soup, which we can’t seem to keep in stock.
What’s your favourite cookbook?
It’s not quite a cookbook but Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dorenburg and Karen Page is a must have for anyone who considers themselves a cook. It’s a reference that helps you create menus and recipes and truly inspires creativity.
What’s your favourite Ottawa restaurant?
It would be toss up between Fraser Café and Town. Both places offer exceptional food, excellent service and extremely good value. I always leave satisfied.
Any exciting next steps for the business you want to share?
We are launching our own line of preserves, using local ingredients sourced from some of our favourite growers.