When the pandemic forced restaurants to close, eager chefs went online to inspire, educate, and have fun.
Adam Vettorel starts a podcast
Adam Vettorel, co-owner and chef of North & Navy, tried his hand at the television cooking thing. “I had a terrible anxiety attack and realised it wasn’t for me,” he recalls. But radio? Well, now he’s found his medium.
Launched in March, At the Pass is a podcast “about the Ottawa restaurant scene, for the Ottawa restaurant scene.” As of late November, Vettorel had shared 20 episodes, including one that thoughtfully addresses the issues of COVID-19 and the restaurant industry directly. “I’m a rabid consumer of podcasts, many of them chef related, largely because I spend three to four hours standing in one place. So I thought I’d try something for the Ottawa scene.”
Initially intimidated by the technical barriers that a professional-sounding podcast presented, Vettorel hired Pop Up Podcasting, a local business, to help him. He chose some suitably upbeat kitchen-sounding jingles to open each show and asked the branding company from North & Navy to design a tile (the image that accompanies a podcast), then headed to the studio with his first guest, chef Joe Thottungal.
Vettorel gets thick into the gravy of being a chef in this city; with mellifluous tones and a cheerful demeanour, he asks thoughtful questions and successfully gets his guests to spill the beans on the Ottawa restaurant scene.
Harriet Clunie launches a YouTube series
Harriet Clunie has been minimizing waste in her kitchens for years. “To me, using every bit of food is the best way to honour the food, the farmer, and the earth,” she explains.
The busy chef has been thinking about how best to spread that gospel for years, so the idea for her Scrap Cooking YouTube series came together quickly after a chance meeting with Jean-François Bérubé, a producer with Postmedia. Launched this past spring and filmed in the kitchens of Urban Element, Clunie’s weekly 15-minute Scrap Cooking videos showcase the chef ’s engaging personality and a series of simple recipes to make delectable dishes and sauces out of common kitchen leftovers.
Who knew such back-of-fridge finds as wilted parsley, cauliflower stems, and cheese ends could be turned into gourmet treats? Find Clunie’s scrap hacks on the Scrap Cooking YouTube channel.
Jamil Bhuya on IGTV
When restaurants shuttered completely in March, Jamil Bhuya was one of many food-industry folks who turned to online video to keep engaged with their clients. Raised in Ottawa, Bhuya opened Burgers n’ Fries Forever on Bank Street in Centretown in 2013, added a Market location in 2017, and expanded to Toronto in 2018.
Bhuya connected with his 20,000-plus Instagram followers with short cooking videos broadcast from his own Toronto kitchen. Dubbed “Isolation Chronicles,” the episodes show a chummy Bhuya joking about sponsorship deals, crying while cutting onions, and showing secrets of such dishes as charred salsa with cheesy quesadillas and eggs Benedict with skillet potatoes. The self-deprecating humour and hungry enthusiasm for cooking make you feel as though you’re hanging with your BFF — the one who entertains while feeding you.
“We said to ourselves, ‘We can’t feed our BFFs, but what can we do to entertain and lighten their spirits?’ “ In June, he took to the platform again to reflect more solemnly on Black Lives Matter. “Staying silent is not the answer. It is about drumming up support, it is about educating,” Bhuya says in the two-minute video. “We face things, being a burger joint. When ISIS was all over the news, we faced discriminaton because we have halal burgers.”
The series stopped when BFF reopened. “We didn’t realize how much work it is! My wife was doing all the post-production editing. It was hours. And more than anything, I was just trying to have fun.”