Paul Bergeron likes to say he attended the Simon & Ross Fraser School of Cooking. He started out as a line cook four years ago in the original shoebox-sized location of Fraser Café on Beechwood and moved with the restaurant to its current spot down the street as sous-chef where he has had control over the lunch menu. He would admit that being Simon Fraser’s brother-in-law probably helped him get his foot in the door.
Bergeron, originally from Kincardine Ontario, moved to Ottawa after spending most of his 20s living in the Yukon. He worked in restaurants to fund the time spent exploring and eventually moved to the nation’s capital in search of a career. He became a massage therapist and met his wife, Amy Pizana.
Amy’s sister is married to Simon Fraser, who, at the time was working at Domus. Simon invited Bergeron to do a stage in the kitchen where he was apparently bit by the cooking bug. “It was my first time working with people where it was all about the food,” he says, “And after working solo, I really liked the camaraderie of the line.”
During his time working at Fraser Café he began cooking up a plan to start his own food truck. He envisioned bringing creative, made-from-scratch restaurant food to the streets. He had watched his friend Jacqueline Jolliffe develop a brisk daily business with Stone Soup Foodworks, serving a constantly changing menu of fresh homemade soups, chilis, and tacos at festivals and on the University of Ottawa campus. She gave him advice and taught him how to streamline a menu so that customers don’t have to wait in line too long for their lunches.
He’ll be testing out everything he’s learned at Westfest on June 9 and 10 when he debuts his new blue and orange truck called Relish The Flavour. The menu will include smoked trout and bacon guacamole with homemade cumin chips; a crispy fried green tomato sandwich with tomato-basil mayo, smoked mozzarella, pickled red onions, and homemade potato chips; beer-battered haddock with tartar sauce and fries; masa cakes with pulled jerk chicken and mango-apple salsa. For dessert he’s making fresh mini doughnuts filled with homemade strawberry sauce.
Bergeron has a few festivals and private appearances already booked for the summer — including Ross Fraser’s upcoming wedding. Eventually he’d like to find a regular spot to park and cook in the truck year-round.