City Bites

RUMOUR CONTROL: Is chef Steve Vardy coming back to Ottawa?

Some City Bites readers tipped me off to the fact that culinary virtuoso Steve Vardy, who left Ottawa last February to become executive chef of the Atlantic restaurant in his native Newfoundland, was recently spotted in town. Speculation began swirling that one of the city’s most buzz-worthy cooks was scoping out the restaurant scene and sniffing around for an opportunity to come back.

Die-hard fans of Vardy’s cooking (and there are many of us) have already had our hearts broken — at least twice — by news of his departure. He was the chef at Whalesbone the first time he announced he was splitting the capital because he was part of a top-secret project on Fogo Island (He raised expectations by telling me that the news about this project would be so big that I’d read about it on the cover of the New York Times). So he left. And we waited. And kept a keen eye on the NYT.

Until one day, Vardy came back. We were told he was here to help lead the reincarnation of Black Cat Bistro’s kitchen on Preston Street. His followers were told to eat it up while it lasted. We knew it would be short-lived. And so when he left for good last winter it was with little fanfare.

So are we just hallucinating Vardy’s return once again? We went to the source for answers and stumbled upon some news that struck me like a page out of Eat, Pray, Love.

Vardy says he is retiring from restaurants at the end of May 2011. Why? To teach yoga. “Yoga is one of my loves outside of cooking and now I’m taking it to the next step! can’t wait!” he wrote in an email. “By this time next year I will be out of the industry and just teaching yoga full-time.”

Vardy says he has been accepted to the Moksha Yoga Teachers Training in Victoria next summer. After he completes the training, he plans to return to Newfoundland to teach full time at a brand new yoga studio opening soon in St. John’s.