Chef Joe Thottungal Coconut Lagoon Ottawa Heads to the Canadian Culinary Championships

Chef Joe Thottungal Coconut Lagoon Ottawa

The 2017 Canadian Culinary Championships will take place this weekend in Kelowna, BC February 3-4, 2017. The eleven competing chefs will be aiming for gold as they compete in three events over two days testing their skills, creativity and endurance. We caught up with Chef Joe Thottungal Coconut Lagoon Ottawa for a few pre-competition questions.

Che Joe Thottungal

Tell us a little bit about your restaurant and/or style of cooking.

Coconut lagoon is an Indian restaurant specialize in Kerala Cuisine opened in 2004. We were the first to bring Kerala Cuisine into the main stream and do authentic dishes without comprising the taste. We serve a lot of seafood with different layers of flavors and let our cooking spices will do the talking. We grew up with most of the spices around us and coconut is a big part of our cuisine.

Where do you eat in your city?

Love Chinese food visit and make a point every month visit  Mekong  with the family and occasionally a good Burger from OCCO Kitchen.

What would be your ideal food day? 

Creating a new dish or a food  festivals.

What trend do you wish would die?

To reserve  only at 7 pm on weekends and I wish there was less  phones on while dining .

What trend/s do you wish would be next?

More authentic vegetables and staples coming into our supply system. A more personal touch with the guests than ordering through the internet, with third party deliveries, which will loses the personnel touch we keep with our loyal guests. Less chain restaurants and more unique restaurants with different themes. I always wish people would plan more parties and eating out on weekdays, so we don’t get grilled only on weekends and instead have have a steady week.

What ingredient do you always have on hand?

Garam masala

Che Joe Thottungal

What’s your go-to recipe when you’re eating at home?

Grilled  Striploin marinated in Garam Masala and Yukon Gold Potato Lyonnaise

What equipment do you wish you had in your kitchen?

Blast chiller so that when I make 20 litres of sauce or soup, it would chill it down very fast .

What cookbook would you suggest for a gift for your foodie friends this year?

Ottawa Cook Book By Anne DesBrisay.

Che Joe Thottungal

Any hints on what dish you will be preparing for Gold Medal Plates?

Pacific  sustainable Halibut with mutli layer of flavors that come from my roots.

What wine/beer/libation are you pairing with this year?

Huff Estate Winery Riesling Off Dry 2015

joe thottungal

Who is coming with you?

My Sous Chef Rajesh Gopi who I’ve worjed with for the last 13 years  and Sudeep Jose.


Joe Thottungal was born in the State of Kerala in South India. He received his Hotel Management and Catering Diploma from a culinary institute in nearby Madras, and began his career with the five star property of Leela Kempinski in Mumbai, as a Kitchen Executive Trainee. He then moved to Saudi Arabia to take a Chef de Partie position at the 5 star exclusive Oasis resort under the guidance of Chef John R. Stevens and Chef Goivanni Telles.

In 1998, He immigrated to Canada.  Joe started his Canadian culinary journey at Centro Bar and Grill in Toronto and then moved on to the Royal York Hotel to work under their famous Master Chef, George McNeil, CMC, After completing two years at the Royal York, he pursued an opportunity at the newly opened Park Hyatt Hotel and helped to open the new Annona Restaurant as a Sous Chef.

His career progressed further when he moved on to Casino Windsor to accept an appointment as Restaurant Chef at Café Cache, its exclusive fine dining restaurant where he displayed his talents to the crème de la crème of Casino Windsor patrons.

While working at Casino Windsor he received and accepted an opportunity to work with Chef Wilhiem Wetscher, CCC at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ottawa as a Restaurant Chef.  He was quickly promoted to Executive Sous Chef.  While working at the Crowne Plaza he completed his Chef de Cuisine certification from SAIT Calgary and became a Certified Chef de Cuisine in May 2003.

His passion for cooking and serving guests gave birth to the Coconut Lagoon Restaurant. This is his own venture where he displays his talents and showcases the exclusive cuisine of Kerala with a modern twist. The Coconut Lagoon  is the first of its kind in the nation’s capital. After opening its doors in May 2004,  the Coconut Lagoon received many positive reviews and became the talk of the town.

Joe is active in the community and is a member of the Ottawa Chapter of Les Toques Blanches, and the CCFCC .In 2008 he was award the Chef Of the Year by CCFCC.

He was the creative mind behind the impressive annual Onasadhya vegetarian feast at the restaurant, as well as leading annual culinary tours to South India.

Joe and the Coconut Lagoon were featured in the recent, widely acclaimed book “Ottawa Cooks”, and in 2015 was invited to participate in the prestigious Gold Medal Plate competition where he won the bronze medal.  In 2016, Joe’s dishes were awarded the gold medal.

He is always willing to lend a hand to different charity events like Bon Appetite (for hunger and poverty relief), Savor the Moment (for the Children’s Wish Foundation) , and the Can Go Afar Foundation, as well as giving cooking classes at different venues throughout the city.

Coconut Lagoon Restaurant
853 St. Laurent Boulevard,
Ottawa, ON K1K 3B