the executive chef
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. Won Bronze in Lindt 3rd Annual Chocolate Competition 2001 ,and placed second in USA Rice Competition held in Toronto.
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.
Joe Thottungal, (CCC) Executive Chef and Owner
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.
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 Apetit (for hunger and poverty relief), Savor the Moment (for the Children’s Wish Foundation) , Taste of Glebe, and the Can Go Afar Foundation, as well as giving cooking classes at different venues throughout the city.