Business Beat: Caterer in OOE delivers fresh eats and delicious treats

Your Occasional Caterer, Joanne Benoit displays a yummy sample of her Ginger Cognac Truffles produced in her Old Ottawa East kitchen.

Your Occasional Caterer, Joanne Benoit displays a yummy sample of her Ginger Cognac Truffles produced in her Old Ottawa East kitchen.

By Meredith Newberry

Beyond the unique and wonderful storefronts in Old Ottawa East exists a treasure- trove of business. Our community is home to a host of businesses each operating from their own kitchens, offices or studios. From PR companies, to florists, to bookkeepers, to artists, to piano teachers, our community is diverse with talent, and supporting local business is getting easier and easier every day. Here we profile an OOE hidden treat, Your Occasional Caterer!

Joanne Benoit is no stranger to the entrepreneurial spirit in Old Ottawa East. She has been a caterer from her own home for 33 years. She whips up h’ors d’euvres, baked goods and mouth-watering bites for cocktail parties, birthdays and special events throughout the city. Christmas and New Year’s Eve keep her whisk moving the fastest, and her spatulas always on hand. 

After building her reputation through word of mouth and countless successful catered events, Benoit keeps her kitchen busy. Throughout the neighbourhood, customers receive her menu and start placing their orders, so they don’t miss out. And when Benoit showed me a cheese ball that she molded into the shape of an apple, I could immediately understand why people line up for Benoit’s unique, hand-made and delicious food. 

Joanne Benoit's delicious cheese ball molded in the shape of a festive apple.

Joanne Benoit’s delicious cheese ball molded in the shape of a festive apple.

Benoit started her catering business, Your Occasional Caterer, when her three children were young. She was a bookkeeper at the time but wanted to have something she was passionate about and could do at home while raising her kids. It’s a reason many parents in similar situations make the decision to start their own at-home business. Flexible hours, the desire to follow a passion and the thrill of building something of her own allowed Benoit to grow her own business and be home for the kids when they arrived from school. 

Benoit says her family was always understanding and it was relatively easy to balance her work and her life, even though it was in the same place. “It was never a problem for me. Plus, my family always knew that when I was working they could have the broken or the burned ones, so that made it all okay.” 

Perhaps because they saw their mom happy and active in the kitchen, all her kids cook and appreciate good food and hand-made touches. Benoit is currently drying home-grown lavender for her oldest daughter’s wedding, making hand-rolled truffles for the same big event and getting a head start on winter by drying the herbs from her home garden.  

Even though cooking is her job, it’s never been a chore. Her dream day would be cooking a big meal for her large family. Whether it’s spicy crusted chicken, charcuterie platters or parmesan-stuffed main entrees, she’s happiest in the kitchen, sharing food and laughing over a glass of wine. 

Parents of school-age kids may also recognize Benoit from Rainbow Kidschool. The outgoing, active and always-smiling Benoit went back to school a few years ago and trained to become an Early Childhood Educator. Now that her own nest is empty, she can enjoy both her catering business and her desire to work with young people. 

“Follow your passion, if you share it, people will come,” she said when asked what her advice is to other people on the fence about starting their own business. “Don’t be afraid of your own success.”  

Since we caught Benoit amid rolling truffles for the upcoming summer wedding, she said she’d share her delicious recipe with us. Gluten-free, of course, and filled with chocolate decadence.  

JOANNE BENOIT’S GINGER COGNAC TRUFFLES 

Makes 78 truffles 

 Ingredients: 

  • ¾ cup 35% heavy cream 
  • 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, chopped 
  • ¼ cup butter 
  • 2 TBSP candied ginger 
  • 2 TBSP cognac 

Optional Coatings: Powdered sugar, Cocoa Powder, or Melted Chocolate. 

Instructions: 

  1. Bring cream to a boil and remove from heat. Add chocolate, stirring until melted. 
  2. Cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in Butter & Ginger. Stir in Cognac. Allow to cool again. Cover and refrigerate. 
  3.  Once hardened (but not too hard to scoop), use a small #50 candy scoop and drag across the top of the chilled chocolate. Pop onto a tray and either allow to dry before rolling, or roll right away in cocoa powder, and/or icing sugar or melted chocolate. 
  4.  Store in refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve. 

Want to place your order for Thanksgiving or Christmas? You can contact Joanne Benoit, Your Occasional Caterer by phone at 613-799-3761 or by email at josignin@hotmail.com. 

 

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Filed in: Business Beat, FP, Front Page

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