Canada’s first amphibious festival sells out within hours

The Chef’s Table

Billed as ‘The Chef’s Table at the National Arts Centre’ this multi-weekend event showcases world class chefs, great live music, and a table alongside the Rideau Canal—just what the doctor ordered to offset a pandemic that has dampened the spirits of so many people, throughout the summer.

In light of Covid-19, event organizers around the world have had to think creatively for 2020. This is what led to staging The Chef’s Table at the NAC’s 1 Elgin Restaurant. Given the NAC’s standard for excellence, organizers were confident the event would be executed safely, without compromising quality.

Thanks to a dynamic partnership between the National Arts Centre, the RBC Bluesfest organization, and the Ontario Festival of Small Halls, this food and music festival seems to be hitting all the right notes for foodies and music fans alike—on land and on water.

“There seems to be quite an appetite for a respite from the pandemic—the first weekend of this year’s Chef’s Table was sold out within the first 12 hours of going on sale, and the remaining weekends soon followed suit,” says Mark Monahan, the event’s executive director. “People have been cooped up for far too long, so we came up with a way for folks to enjoy an outdoor dining experience on a terrace in the heart of the city, listening to live music performed on a boat moored on the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO world heritage site.”

The lineup of musical performances, which includes some of the region’s most celebrated artists, takes place from a boat/stage on the water, a safe distance away.

The event was launched on September 11, 12 and 13. The first weekend’s menu was curated by Chef Helena Loureiro (of Portus 360 and Helena Restaurant in Montreal) and Chef Kenton Leier (of the National Arts Centre), with music by Dueling Pianos (featuring Dave Kalil & Tyler Kealey). By all accounts it was an unequivocal success, with patrons lauding the venue, the food, and the entertainment. Festivities will resume September 18, 19 and 25, 26.

  • 2nd Weekend – Sept, 18, 19 – Chefs Kenton Leier (NAC), Pascal Menard (Global Affairs Canada), and Ian Bilodeau (Canadian Museum of History). Music by: Rebecca Noelle
  • 3rd Weekend – Sept, 25, 26 – Chefs Kenton Leier (NAC) and Sheila Flaherty (of sijjakkut in Iqaluit).  Music by: HOROJO TRIO (Jamie Holmes, Jeff Rogers, and JW-Jones)

When asked what patrons can look forward to, Nelson Borges, General Manager | Food and Beverage at the NAC said: “Guests are seated at tables on the terrace, along the beautiful Rideau Canal in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Their dinner consists of a memorable creation by a select group of talented chefs chosen by the NAC’s Resident Chef program, which was created to highlight the diverse and extraordinary culinary talent in Canada and the unique take each Chef brings to the idea of Canadian cuisine, from every region in the country.

“But it is the rare combination of a high level culinary experience, paired with a live musical performance, that brings this evening to the next level. Musicians perform from a boat floating on the canal, which provides a very unique take on dinner and a show, and an innovative solution to the challenge of physical distancing,” concluded Borges.