being a part of a hotel team that feels more like a family

Shared by Anita Ruivo + Dwayne Brown

Executive Chef Kenton Leier, photographed in the Westin Ottawa’s kitchen.

As long as I’ve lived in Ottawa, I’ve always known the Westin Ottawa to be a beautifully appointed hotel with a great location and supported by a quality international brand. Now that they are sponsoring our loveOttawa project, both Anita and I are getting to see more behind the scenes, and we’re learning it’s a hotel with heart and a very hospitable team who consider themselves a big family!

The other week we were fortunate enough to meet and photograph Kenton Leier, who’s been the executive chef for the hotel for the past five years. Kenton told us how much he loves the excitement and pace of the Westin’s kitchen. He especially enjoys working with his closely knit team. “We serve everything from very large gala dinners for hundreds of people to small VIP functions. We cater outside the hotel as well, so it’s a huge challenge to plan and execute it all at a very high level and that’s what I love about it.”

© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

Kenton loves that Ottawa has all the great things a big city offers…“great dining, entertainment, shopping and culture without the hassles of a really big city. I also love that there is so much green space, parks, trails with such easy accessibility.” Kenton appreciates how much the city’s dining scene has evolved over the past 10 years. “We can definitely compete with any other city for the number of quality places to eat and everything from very low key and casual to upscale and formal. There is lots of culinary talent here in Ottawa!”

Kenton’s favourite places to eat in Ottawa are quite varied. “I love the sandwiches at La Bottega in The Market and Pho at a number of places in Chinatown. Murray Street is a favourite restaurant, as well as The Cheshire Cat Pub in Carp, breakfast at Sconewitch, Baker Street Café or Wilf and Aida’s.”

Thanks so much to Kenton Leier for showing us around the kitchen at the Westin and for sharing some of what he loves about Ottawa! Please follow Kenton on Instagram at @chefleier to see what he and his team are working on in the kitchen!


paying tribute and inspiring passion for a great sport

Shared by Anita Ruivo + Dwayne Brown

At loveOttawa we are happy to support FIFA’s #100ballsFWWC giveaway. With just over 2 months to go before the tournament starts, Susana will be hiding ball #64 in memory of her son, Tomás, who passed away recently, and who was a passionate soccer player and supporter. Her children Alicia and Javier will be joining her in hiding it in a place dear to their hearts! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram tomorrow for hints!


© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

skating the canal – a dream come true

Shared by Anita Ruivo + Dwayne Brown

Patricia Sanchez and Jono Partridge photographed in Confederation Park.

Ice skating is a passion and a profession for Patricia Sanchez and Jono Partridge. Both are skaters with the Disney on Ice “Frozen” North American tour. Although Ottawa was not a scheduled stop, this lovely couple took one day from their busy calendar to visit our city.

Patty, from Madrid, Spain, had spent five consecutive summers in Ottawa, as a teen, learning about our country and studying English. Her dream was to one day return in winter and skate on the canal, as well as to visit her host family and friends and, of course, to show off the nation’s capital to her skating partner and boyfriend, Jono, from London, England. We spent a couple of fun hours with them, and were mesmerized by their jumps and twirls as they skated happily on the world’s longest skating rink. We got a fascinating insight into what it is that captivates both returning visitors and first time tourists to our great city!

© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

When asked what they most liked about Ottawa, Patty recalled the first time she visited the city, as a young teen, and asking for directions to get to her English academy. She asked one person, who in turn asked another and another, until a group of people accompanied her safely to her destination! As she says, “By the time I arrived at the reception desk  I was with eight people who helped me find it. I will never forget that day!”  Jono was also drawn to Ottawans’ kindness. “This was my first experience in Canada, which I’d heard so much about. The typical Canadian is seen to most foreigners as being polite, courteous and kind. The residents of Ottawa really lived up to this and it made my first experience a thoroughly enjoyable one.”

The Rideau Canal definitely exceeded their expectations. Both have skated on numerous icy surfaces but the feeling of “openness” that it allowed them was unforgettable. As Jono explained, “This was such an amazing adventure which really can’t be put into words. It was my first ever experience of a naturally frozen canal. It took my eyes a while to believe what they were seeing! The other surprising thing is how great the quality of the ice surface was. I had always been told that natural outdoor surfaces aren’t great but once I stepped onto it, I found that I could glide far further with one push that I could dream of doing on almost all the man-made ice rinks I had ever skated on.” Patricia, on the other hand, had seen the canal countless times, but surrounded by flowers and trees. “I just loved it! I used to skate indoors during my summers here and would always be told to come to the canal in the winter. After spending five summers in Canada, I finally got the chance to skate on it. It was my dream come true!”

As was to be expected, Patty introduced Jono to BeaverTails! He recalled later, “I was feeling full from lunch but Patty was trying to convince me to get one. I told her that I was still feeling extremely full so we should get one to share and I would just have a few bites. After my first bite, I realised how good it was. The next time I looked down at the BeaverTail, I had eaten most of it and had to pull out a great apology as to why there were only a few bites for Patty left!”

Thank you, Patty and Jono, for posing for our loveOttawa camera and sharing your fond memories. We hope to see you again soon, so that you may experience the exhilarating  “feeling of skating on what seems like an endless ice surface with the wind behind you!” And, perhaps, while eating a BeaverTail!

the love of doing business in ottawa

Shared by Anita Ruivo + Dwayne Brown

Attendees of the 2015 ConectOTT event photographed at The Chateau Laurier.

Thanks so much to Leigh-Ann Redmond and the organizers of ConnectOTT for creating such a great evening to connect entrepreneurs and business people of all ages and experience! Big thanks to the attendees who shared a word or two describing why they love doing business in Ottawa! #‎connectOTT

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© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

returning to a funkier, more interesting ottawa

Shared by Anita Ruivo + Dwayne Brown

Celina Penteado photographed on the Rideau Canal Corktown Foot Bridge.

Once in a while, at loveOttawa, we run into people that are returning to a town that they hold close to their hearts. This is the case of Celina Penteado. Celina arrived in Ottawa in her late teens, attended University of Ottawa and then moved to Toronto, eventually settling down in Lima, Peru. Today Celina collaborates with Funlanguages Canada as an educational ambassador, bringing Peruvian students to our beautiful city and sharing with them the city she once resided in, its many outdoor activities, friendly people and top rated educational system.

While accompanying her students in January and February, Celina courageously braved our very cold winter and posed for our camera, always with the positive and fun disposition that makes her such an exceptional returning Ottawan!

© dwayne brown studio – the loveOttawa project

What Celina loves most about our city is its people. Compared to decades ago “It’s funkier, more interesting, more exciting!”. She highlights Ottawa´s museums, the Byward Market, special quaint neighbourhoods, as well as her old neighbourhood of Rockliffe. Ottawa has always been special “but it certainly has character now. I also love the nature that surrounds the city. The outdoors is always ready!”

Thank you, Celina, for promoting our city and rediscovering it all over again each time you visit!