a taste for life – hope made delicious

Steph Legari photographed at the ‘A Taste For Life’ launch at The Urban Element.

I set out earlier this week to photograph Chef Steph Legari to help raise awareness for the ‘A Taste For Life’ fundraising event that’s happening next Wednesday April 23rd (Steph’s the SpokeChef for the event). I was met by Steph’s super warm smile, an enveloping handshake and a passionate man wearing an amazingly brazen chef coat and pants. What I learned is, Steph Legari’s heart is on fire for Ottawa, for the chefs and restaurants of our city and for the people of Ottawa. This passionate heart of Steph’s is hard to ignore and so perfect to help encourage Ottawa to participate in this cool upcoming culinary fundraiser which will raise funds for Bruce House and The Snowy Owl Aids Foundation.  It’s a perfect fit for restaurants, Chefs and diners to give back without having to fill out forms, buy tickets or pay fees. All you have to do is go out for dinner and the rest is taken care of. “How perfect is that, it’s Hope made Delicious.”

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

So not surprising, Steph Legari has more than enough love to go around for Ottawa’s restaurants, especially to Ottawa’s Chefs who in Steph’s opinion are always at the forefront of the culinary scene. As a chef, it’s hard for him to single out a handful of his favourite restaurants, and he tends to love different places more based on his mood than one being better than the other. Some of his favourites that do come to mind are Art-Is-In Bakery for Keven Mathieson’s delicious creations, the fantastic sushi and wonderful people at New Generation Sushi  and for a great burger he loves Burgers and Shakes. “Always always tasty!”

For pizza Steph has a couple places he loves. Milano’s Pizza is the pizzeria he grew up with and loved for years. “This is our place to go to for great pie.”  For truly gourmet pizza, Mountain Station Pizza (just south of town) is at the top of his list. “The CN trains that run alongside the shop actually stop and pick up pizzas. Seriously!

For BBQ……Steph’s backyard is the only place to be, but if he wants to go out and enjoy the company of good friends and experience a stellar band he loves The Branch in Kemptville which makes some of the best Brisket and you’d be hard pressed to find a non tasty item on their Texas BBQ themed menu. Chef Enloe brings in some of the best bands to entertain the guests while they enjoy some great BBQ. “Cozy and delicious. I love this place!”

Steph of course mentioned many more Ottawa restaurants he loves (places like Pelican Grill, Kettleman’s Bagel Company, Mama Theresas, Fatboys, Pub Italia, Winchelsea and even Ottawa’s Beavertails), but he brought me back to the list of over 45 restaurants who are participating in The Taste for Life event. These restaurants donate 25% of their total revenue for that one evening to this charity enabling the recipients to live with dignity and care. “These are the restaurants I love!”

For more information about the Taste For Life event:  or for more information about Steph Legari:  and you can follow both the Steph and The Taste for Life on twitter at: @ggourmet1 and @atasteforlifeot  


ottawa is a part of the new board game revolution

Amy Boyce photographed at ‘Games for All’ in Westboro.

Like many people, Amy Boyce grew up in Ottawa then moved away to Toronto for a while, but returned because of the small town feel and sense of community that our city is so well known for. Amy especially finds this local community feel in Westboro Village, where her and her partner Marquis Coté have recently opened their board game store and lounge – Games for All. “Westboro is the perfect neighbourhood for our new store because it’s so family and community focused.” She also loves Westboro because of all of the great locally owned restaurants, cafés and shops. Amy loves local!

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Amy also really loves the heritage buildings downtown like The Parliament Buildings, and she enjoys shopping and walking around the Byward Market where you can find so many small independently owned shops – and of course all the farmers selling fruits and vegetables in the summer. When I asked Amy if she had a favourite Ottawa restaurant, her’s was definitely Two Six {ate} on Preston. “I love that they really focus on presenting smaller meals using as much local food as possible.” Amy also really loves the eclectically vintage Raw Sugar Café, where you can even see local bands in the evening.

Thanks Amy for sharing and because board gaming is all about face to face connections and conversation, I’m certain your venture is going to be a big success in Ottawa. For more information about ‘Games for All’: and you can follow them on twitter at: @gamesforallca



ottawa is a great city to come home to

Abe Bourgi photographed in front of Ottawa’s Parliament Buildings.

Yesterday I photographed Abe Bourgi, who has been almost obsessively capturing Ottawa with his smart phone and posting countless wonderful images of our city on Instagram. Abe has been traveling the world since before he could even remember – and when I asked him how many countries, it was hard for him to remember exactly how many (definitely over 30). The thing is he always loves coming back to Ottawa of which he’s called home for a dozen years. “I love the open Ottawa skyline and I’m really loving exploring the neighbourhoods of Westboro and Wellington West.” Being a serial traveler I thought it was a cool compliment to Ottawa that Abe also loves the type of tourists who travel so far to visit here. Our city has such a rich historical and cultural draw, bringing tourists from all across Canada and around the world.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

When I asked Abe about his favourite Ottawa restaurants, he prefaced his answer by telling me how much he loved breakfast – and that The Savoy Brasserie in Westboro does such a awesome French influenced breakfast and brunch. Other favourite west-end restaurants are The Hintonburger for their delicious burgers and the Wellington Gastropub for great food and their beer sampler.

Something else that Abe loves about Ottawa are the people, of which his images are starting to include more and more of. His people images tend to capture local folks unaware of Abe’s camera – allowing him to naturally capture them interacting with their city and/or apart of a bigger Ottawa scene. His photography is almost painterly and definitely worth checking out!

A big thanks to Abe Bourgi for being on the other side of the camera and for sharing what he loves about Ottawa! To view Abe’s photography you can check out his Instagram feed at: @boodzz  and you can also follow him on twitter at: @boddythebest


a blank canvas waiting to be painted with new ideas

Michael Grigoriev photographed at the TEDxElginSt 2014 conference.

It was great to have the opportunity to photograph Michael Grigoriev this past weekend before he spoke at the TEDxElginSt conference. Micheal’s name is synonymous with positive and thoughtful change to Ottawa (he co-organizes the Ottawa chapters of Creative Mornings and DesignMeets). He has an industrial design background with a passion for user experience and digital behaviors – and I believe he also has an equaled passion for how we experience and use our city, so what a better person to photograph for loveOttawa than Micheal!

Like many, Micheal loves how this city can offer so many different types of experiences all in such close proximity. Go for a hike or cycle along an amazing network of bike paths, and ten minutes later you can have a fantastic local beer at an up-and-coming brand new restaurant. He loves that perfect balance between small-town outdoorsy options with amazing infrastructure to support it and increasingly exciting urban amenities. Micheal’s also excited how supportive the community is to help get just about any new initiative off the ground. “It feels a lot like a blank canvas waiting to be painted with courageous new ideas and people”.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Micheal certainly loves all of the new restaurants and craft breweries opening up and he keeps a running check-list of places to check out, but right now although it’s not new, his favourite restaurant is Mello’s Diner. “You can’t beat the mix of accessibility, creativity and quality for a super reasonable price”. And just across the river, Marius on Promenade du Portage is an amazing new French inspired sandwich shop/bakery/cafe that as he likes to say “knows the deal”.

HUB Ottawa is very near and dear to Micheal. In his eyes HUB is much more than a space, it’s a co-working creative and innovative community which is one of the city’s most important non-profits that’s helping shape an Ottawa that we’re all excited about. “I really point to them opening up and the amazing work they’re doing as probably the biggest turning point for me in this city”. Micheal’s not sure where the new positive cultural shifts we’re seeing in Ottawa originated, but this new-found energy definitely helps all kinds of new initiatives and start-ups materialize. These positive attitudes also lead to a more pronounced pride to live and work in our city, which perhaps is the greatest reason to love Ottawa!

Thanks Micheal for sharing and for being a great proponent for positive and creative change in our city. For more information about Michael Grigoriev you can visit his website or his Linkedin profile and you can follow Micheal on twitter at @grigonometry



rethink + rebuild = positive passion for ottawa

Attendees of TEDxElginSt 2014 photographed at The Museum of Nature.

It was so nice to be asked by the organizers of the TEDxElginSt 2014 conference to drop down today to meet some of the speakers, volunteers and attendees – and of course to take a few loveOttawa portraits. And how appropriate, because everyone attending definitely loves Ottawa! It’s an awesome line up of great speakers, all chatting about thinking differently – Rethink + Rebuild.

I invite any and all attendees to share your thoughts below about what you love about Ottawa and/or what you’ve pulled from today’s conference to positively think about our city moving forward.





© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Thanks to Vicki and Erin for inviting me and to everyone who braved the camera today! For more information about TEDxElginSt: and please follow them on twitter at: @TEDxElginSt

a positive and supportive community

Steve Beckta photographed at Gezellig Restaurant in Westboro.

Everyone in Ottawa knows the name Steve Beckta, many have have met him, most everyone’s eaten at one of his restaurants and I think everyone who has knows how passionate Steve is about his restaurants. Or maybe more appropriately how passionate he is about making his customers enjoy their experience at one of his restaurants. Yesterday when I photographed Steve at his Westboro restaurant Gezellig, we didn’t talk too much about his restaurants – we talked more about why he loves living and being a restaurateur in Ottawa. Steve Beckta loves the positive and supportive nature of people in Ottawa, and how they really get behind exciting ideas and inititatives. “Ottawa is not a town of skeptics, it’s a community of people who honestly want to know how they can help and get behind an idea”.

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

Steve has of course seen amazing support over the years for his restaurants (Beckta, Play and Gezellig), but now he’s seeing just how positively Ottawa can get behind something that is so personally important to him – helping his good friend Al Carpenter (who has adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia) find a stem cell donor and to bring hope to Al’s family. Tomorrow (March 29th) Gezellig Restaurant is hosting a swab-a-thon event between 9:00am and 1:00pm with the help of the Canadian Blood Services OneMatch program. Steve is so appreciative of the amazing social media support for this event and he’s very positive to see a great turn out tomorrow!

Steve wanted me to mention that if you’re unable to be a stem cell donor but still want to help, a great way to help folks with cancer is to give blood – many cancer patients are in need of whole blood and platelet transfusions. There’s so many ways to help and give hope!

It’s interesting and so cool that the qualities that Steve Beckta loves about Ottawa are the same principles he runs his restaurants by. He’s supportive, welcoming and so complimentary to the other restaurants and businesses in town, and he truly wants to help others. We’re super lucky to not only have Steve at the leading edge of Ottawa’s very rich restaurant scene but also as an example of how to do business with heart!

For more information about Steve Beckta’s restaurants (of which he has an amazing partner, executive chef Mike Moffat): 

And you can also follow Steve on twitter at: @SteveBeckta




ottawa’s full of rich urban landscapes

Amanda Rheaume photographed at The Hintonburg Public House.

I was lucky enough to photograph 2014 Juno nominee Amanda Rheaume last week in her favourite local Ottawa pub The HPH. By the time this post goes live Amanda will likely already be in Winnipeg warming up for Juno Cup (yes she’ll be playing on the ice with the likes of Jim Cuddy, Sean Dean and Steve Marriner) and then getting ready for a busy Juno Awards weekend! Amanda is so talented and beautiful yet so down to earth - her humility and drive are so inspiring.

Amanda Rheaume definitely loves Ottawa. She loves the abundance of green space and all of the different urban landscapes that define our city. She loves running along the River Parkway, and she loves spending time with friends in the restaurants and pubs in Hintonburg and Wellington West – cool places like The Hintonburg Public House, The Wood on Wellington, Alpha Diner (Home of the Flying Toaster) and Canvas Restaurant on Holland. “I love all of the amazing restaurants and bars popping up all over the place.”

© dwayne brown studio - the loveOttawa project

I of course had to ask Amanda where her favourite place in Ottawa was to perform – and she loves playing The Fourth Stage at the NAC because of it’s small and intimate size. This is a venue where the artist and audience can really connect! I also asked Amanda what Ottawa gems she’d share with someone new to the city. She’d definitely show off the historic Chateau Laurier Hotel and The Parliament Buildings (Ottawa’s heritage architecture is so incredibly rich), then west on the Ottawa River Parkway to Remic Rapids where there’s a beautiful natural stage for such a unique art display by John Felice Ceprano – he balances rocks in the water in the most amazing way!

Thanks so much Amanda for making the time for a photo and sharing with us. We’re all very proud of you for your Juno nomination! Have fun this weekend and show those guys how to play hockey!

For more information about Amanda Rheaume’s music and tour dates: and you can follow her on twitter at: @amandarheaume  

Amanda would love it if you could take a peek at an organization that’s very close to her heart called Babes4Breasts. It’s an organization that she co-runs with best friend and local singer/songwriter Ana Miura. Babes4Breasts (B4B) is a group of like-minded Canadian recording artists who have come together to fight breast cancer through music. Their mission is to use the power of music to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer prevention, education, and support via conventional and integrative strategies, by way of a community-based approach.