City Bites

BREAKING NEWS: Charlotte Langley says goodbye to The Whalesbone — and to Ottawa — with a love letter

The November/December 2011 cover celebrates Ottawa's best restaurants — and Langley's "Chicken and Waffles." Photography by Christian Lalonde, www.photoluxstudio.com

It was with a particular feeling of angst that I received the news that Charlotte Langley will be leaving The Whalesbone Oyster House next month. She’s packing up her now-famous short-shorts, her potty-mouth as well as her talent, creativity, and very sharp knives and moving to Toronto. On December 1, she will become Chef de Cuisine for Food Network star Chef Brad Long (the two were partners at last year’s “Celebrity Chef” event) at Café Belong, the stunning new restaurant that anchors Toronto’s ingenious Evergreen Brick Works. (I was there this past weekend for the Saturday farmers’ market and was smitten with the place)

Why is one chef’s career move stressful for me? Well, as the person who writes this magazine’s annual Best Restaurants feature (being printed as we speak!!) I contend with the possibility that the restaurants I recommend are in a constant state of flux. I can never be sure that when I experience a fabulous meal somewhere that it will be just as good a week, a month, and even a year from now. Such is the life of a food writer.

So when I heard that the Executive Chef of one of this year’s Top 10 (that’s right, the cat is out of the bag — The Whalesbone is somewhere on this year’s list) is taking off to T.O., I had to cringe a little. We have every reason to believe that The Whalesbone will continue to be one of the city’s great restaurants when a new chef takes the helm, but still…

When I spoke to Langley about her move, she hinted (much like Steve Vardy did when he left town after a celebrated stint at The Whalesbone) that she will be working on a secretive new project as well. “I’m looking forward to getting my ass kicked again,” she says of the venture ahead.

Chef Langley asked if we would allow her to send a farewell love letter to Ottawa on City Bites, so here it is:

A portrait of Charlotte Langley taken by Christian Lalonde of Photolux Studio in 2010. That year, The Whalesbone, with Langley at the helm, made food editor Shawna Wagman's Top 10 list.

Dear Ottawa,

I love you and I am going to miss you.

Since the beginning of my career here in Ottawa, I have watched and seen with so many others, a huge boom in our industry. So much delicious food, beautiful plates, interesting ideas, inspired cooks. Farmers at the back door of my restaurant with the most delicate baby turnips and bright red raspberries. All they want to do is feed you these things as soon as they walk in the back door. And the Talent, the talent just doesn’t quit. I could not tell you the last time I went into any restaurant and was disappointed. Hellos, hugs, great service, always delicious food. Some days I am blown away at how spoiled I am to have access to all this great stuff!

I love you gastro, I love you beckta, I love you allium, I love you oz, I love you town, I love you manx, I love you murray street, I love you whalesbone. I love you all. This city will continue to grow and thrive under the skilled hands of the cooks and servers who do what they do ’cause they love it. I so look forward to visiting here and eating my way through all the new amazing spots that are and will be opening. Farber, I love you too.

To all the diners out there who have put up with me for the last few years, thank you. You have been patient and wonderful and supportive of me and I appreciate it so much. All your honest advice and comments have made me a better cook and that is my main goal in life (besides falling in love, that is, J.). Which is what I do everyday when I walk in to the Whalesbone. My little home. That place has given me so much and enabled me to be whoever and whatever I want to be.

Thanks Josh and Cheri. I’m going to miss you guys. Right now I am sitting on the edge of my bed writing this. It has taken me three attempts to not sound like a goofball, but I realize that I am one so I’m just letting it happen. I am about to walk to The Whalesbone, put up the curtains that have been in my closet for the summer. Go through the lunch menu with Chloe, get inventory going. Get my morning kiss from Omar and work on the sched. for the beginning of November. A typical day in an amazing job where I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be surrounded with all these beautiful people.

Pascale is calling. We are planning a going-away party together. Should be a blast.

Thank you Ottawa, I love you and will never ever forget you.

Xoxo

Chef Charlotte Langley

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  • Anonymous

    Sounds like she is still around town for Gold Medal Plates in a couple of weeks. Will add another angle to the competition.  Like, what happens if she wins!  All the best to Chef Langley.

  • History56

    If you were a “real foodie” you would know she wasn’t nominated this year…

  • Anonymous

    Wishful thinking on my part.