Ottawa is known among major Canadian cities for having a very tight-knit restaurant community. Everybody seems to know everybody else and there’s a real sense of respect and admiration between restaurants. The warring camps that other cities have are nowhere present here.
Acting as a spokesperson for this community is chef Adam Vettorel. He’s already well known as chef-owner of North & Navy, as well as the brand-new Cantina Gia. But did you know he has his own podcast?
As the host of At the Pass with Adam Vettorel, he speaks to his friends, colleagues, and contemporaries in the business. He opens each show by saying it’s “for and about the Ottawa restaurant scene.” However, anyone with even a passing interest in the Ottawa dining landscape will find something to pique their interest amongst the episodes.
“I had started it before the pandemic, recorded a few episodes here and there,” says Vettorel. “I listen to a lot of podcasts myself, and decided I’d like to do one. I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to produce and edit it myself. The folks at Pop-Up Podcasting are lifesavers.”
When the pandemic hit, he began to release the episodes, knowing that things were going to be changing rapidly. “I wanted to make sure the conversations were still relevant,” he recalls, “plus, I figured people would be at home and have time to listen to them.”
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Dining “al fresco” might take on a new meaning this fall. To prepare you for the cooler weather, the North & Navy patio is stocked with fresh blankets, heaters and complimentary mulled wine (vin brûlé) when you arrive for your reservation. We’ve built this patio for you and we’ll keep it open as long as you want it! New Menu coming this week, new takeout menu & free delivery!
Vettorel says the podcast is fun for him, allowing him to sit down with the industry peers he respects so much. It gives them an outlet to speak their minds on the many issues currently confronting the hospitality industry. Furthermore, his guests are delighted to sit and chat with him. Having a host that’s in-the-know guarantees a genuine conversation about the trade that Vettorel loves and champions.
“It’s so refreshing to be able to present these chefs I admire as eloquent businesspeople,” he says. “These are members of our communities, small business owners, who not only bring value to the neighbourhoods they work in, but also provide the government with a good chunk of revenue as well. It’s an honour to give them a platform.”
And while many of the guests thus far have been chefs, such as Joe Thottungal, Katie Brown-Ardington, Marysol Foucault, and Jon Svazas, not all guests represent the back of the house. Restauranteurs Ivan Gedz, Alex McMahon, Stephen Beckta, and Oz Balpinar are among those sharing tales and weighing in. The guest list is diverse, allowing for a broad variety of issues to be tackled.
As a restaurant owner, Vettorel shares many of these issues with his guests. Like many of the chefs and restaurateurs he interviews, North & Navy has been granted a patio after applying for five years (“We’re NEVER giving it back,” he says adamantly). Others share the strains of trying to open a restaurant during a pandemic. Vettorel and business partner Chris Schlesak were also in the process of doing that when the world ground to a halt. “It’s easy to champion these issues, especially when we’re facing the same ones,” says Vettorel.
When asked where he sees this podcast going, Vettorel admits to not being sure.
“I don’t really know where I want it to go. I never really considered monetizing it, or anything. I just enjoy it, telling the stories, reaching out to these people, chatting with them,” he says. “These are my peers. I really enjoy being able to ask them questions directly. It’s fun to be able to sit down with people I respect. It’s easy for me. My guests want to talk.”
Conversations about food and drink in the nation’s capital. About small businesses and what they have to do to survive. About our friends and neighbours. They’re conversations worth listening to.
At the Pass with Adam Vettorel is available wherever you stream podcasts.