As he wandered across the still-smoking constructing that housed his signature restaurant, Coconut Lagoon, on Saturday afternoon, chef Joe Thottungal was speaking about “blessings.”
“The newborn is damage,” the nationwide award successful restaurateur stated of his first Canadian creation. “It’s not useless.”
The restaurant close to the intersection of St. Laurent Boulevard and McArthur Avenue, which celebrated its 16th anniversary earlier this month, is in unhealthy form, each from the flames that struck on Friday night and the mandatory destruction strategies utilized by firefighters to get the hearth below management.
Nonetheless, Thottungal’s workers and upstairs tenants — together with a few restaurant staffers — had been all in fine condition and had locations to remain, so Thottungal, 47, turned his ideas to the longer term.
“Proper now, I’ve determined the Coconut Lagoon kitchen will transfer to Thali on June 2” for takeout and supply from there, he stated.
Thali, Thottungal’s’ 16-month-old O’Connor Avenue restaurant, had been closed virtually because the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of servings had plunged as public servants had been despatched house to climate the storm. Thottungal had
donated its kitchen as a platform for himself and different volunteer Ottawa cooks to offer scorching meals below the Meals for Thought community, producing as much as 1,800 meals per week.
Thottungal stated he would assist the Meals for Thought group discover a new kitchen for its operation.
Friday had been a typical day for the energetic chef. He spent the morning cooking with the volunteer group at Thali earlier than working over to Coconut Lagoon within the afternoon, supervising the kitchen and performing an occasional supply himself.
“I really like to do this,” he stated. “I see the group, I meet the purchasers, I see the place they dwell.”
He left at round 5 p.m. for a final supply to an Orléans buyer on his method house.
“I received house, watered some grass, then determined to take everybody, my mom and father and spouse and my children, to go off to see the tulips.”
On the way in which there, Thottungal obtained a name from a staffer saying there was a fireplace on the Coconut Lagoon.
“At first, they didn’t suppose it was very unhealthy, (however), once I received off the 417 onto St. Laurent, I may see the smoke. It was terrible.”
Novel coronavirus has been powerful on Thottungal from the very starting, as he needed to reduce brief a culinary tour in India (forgoing a visit to the Taj Mahal) to return to Canada earlier than borders closed. As soon as he received again, he went into self-isolation whereas the pandemic reduce into his enterprise. It was then he determined to place Thali on the backburner and to reconfigure Coconut Lagoon operations.
The answer had been understanding, he stated.
He reduce workers, however enterprise was regular, if slower.
He stated he remained optimistic he’d proceed to make a go of issues as soon as he was previous this newest setback. He owns the constructing.
Thottungal stated Ottawa Fireplace Service investigators discovered no early indications that the blaze was something apart from unintentional.
“We work with hearth, with fuel. Issues can occur,” he stated.
Most significantly, he stated, he needed to make sure his workers was taken care of till “we will all return collectively.”
“They’re one among major blessings,” he stated.
“Ottawa foodies will know Thottungal as the town’s premier Indian chef, whose 15-year-old first restaurant, Coconut Lagoon, rose from humble beginnings on Saint-Laurent Boulevard to change into a celebrated award-winner,” Postmedia meals author Peter Hum famous final yr, including the chef specialised within the “distinctive and vibrantly spicy delicacies of Kerala,” his house state in southwestern India.
Representing the Ottawa space, Thottungal positioned second within the 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships. He launched a cookbook final yr, with one of many first copies going to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has visited the spot together with his household a number of instances.