1 Elgin Restaurant to Provide National Stage for Canadian Chefs Starting August 14

May 29, 2019 – OTTAWA (Canada) Today, four days before its 50th anniversary, the National Arts Centre (NAC) announced a new resident chef’s program that will provide a national stage featuring some of Canada’s best and most exciting chefs. The NAC also announced that it would close its fine dining restaurant le café on June 3 for a second, final phase of renovations, and re-open August 14 under a new name: 1 Elgin.   


Every season, the NAC’s theatre, dance and music disciplines offer incredible performing arts programming and host artist residencies. Similarly, 1 Elgin under the direction of Executive Chef Kenton Leier, will host four outstanding chefs from every region of Canada as part of a culinary arts season. In collaboration with Chef Leier, they will create special menus to be featured for a period of four to eight weeks at 1 Elgin, and participate in educational outreach through a series of demonstrations and cooking classes in Ottawa to be shared widely through online content on the NAC website and social media.

The inaugural 2019-2020 NAC Resident Chefs season kicks off on September 12 with a gala featuring renowned Six Nations Chef Rich Francis, who will create a menu infused with indigenous ingredients and techniques, as part of the two-week festival launching the NAC’S new Indigenous Theatre.

Here is the full lineup of invited chefs for the 2019-2020 season:  

September – Chef Rich Francis, Seventh Fire Hospitality Group, Six Nations (Ontario)

January – Chef Ryan Hotchkiss, Bündok Restaurant, Edmonton (Alberta)

March – Helena Loureiro, Portus360 Restaurant, Montreal (Quebec)

May – Chef Jonathan Gushue, Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island (Newfoundland)

(See Chef biographies below)

“We strongly believe that it is our responsibility to provide a stage for emerging Canadian culinary artists to showcase their regional foods and cooking influences,” said Chef Leier. “We are proud to offer 1 Elgin as this ‘stage’ and to share their culinary skill and innovation with all Canadians. The NAC has been a champion of culinary talent for the past 50 years and will continue to be a leader in this respect for the next 50 years.”


In the late summer of 2018, the NAC completed the first phase of restaurant renovations, including a modernized kitchen, custom made tables and chairs, a new carpet, and the introduction of semi-private booths. On June 3, the restaurant will close for the final second phase of renovations, which will include the relocation of the bar to the centre of the dining room, the installation of contemporary ceiling and lighting fixtures, and a wider, more welcoming entrance.

On August 14, the restaurant will re-open under the new name 1 Elgin to reflect the rejuvenated National Arts Centre’s place in the heart of Canada’s Capital. (NB: The restaurant’s patio along the Rideau Canal will remain open during renovations)

“As a national institution, I believe it is our responsibility to be the leaders in promoting Canadian cuisine,” said Nelson Borges, General Manager of NAC Food and Beverage Services. “We are introducing a creative space for food lovers to experience contemporary Canadian cuisine, premium wines and attentive service before a performance, or as an inspirational gathering place for lunch.”


Great food and outstanding performing arts have always gone hand in hand at the National Arts Centre. Since the NAC opened its doors in 1969, patrons have enjoyed dinner and a show, first in a restaurant that was called L’opéra (located in what is now the Canada Room). The place was later renamed Le restaurant and then le café, eventually relocating to its current Canal-side location. Le café, under the leadership of legendary chef Kurt Waldele, was among the first restaurants in Canada to embrace the diverse flavours of Canadian regional cuisine, becoming a training ground for Canada's next generation of chefs. 

Since joining the National Arts Centre in 2017, Executive Chef Kenton Leier has built on the tradition made famous by Chef Waldele. Today’s announcement of the Resident Chef Program and new 1 Elgin name reflects the NAC’s renewed commitment to exceptional Canadian cuisine and the mentoring of this country’s next culinary stars.  

For more information about the exciting culinary changes coming to the National Arts Centre, visit



Chef Rich Francis, Seventh Fire Hospitality Group, Six Nations (Ontario)
Now widely recognized as one of the finalists on Canada’s Top Chef (season 4), Rich Francis is redirecting the spotlight to issues of importance to him, namely the rights of Indigenous people to continue creating and serving food in a culturally authentic way. Formally trained at Stratford Chefs School, he also learned much of the techniques he uses now in Moose Factory on James Bay and in Iqaluit NU, from people who still live off the land. Now, as chef-owner of Seventh Fire Hospitality Group in Saskatoon, he creates authentically indigenous food and presents it, often as a private event out of necessity, to diners around the country. The hope is that, through sharing and enlightenment, people will see the importance of preserving the rights of Indigenous Chefs to hunt, prepare and serve food the way their ancestors did.

Chef Ryan Hotchkiss, Bündok Restaurant, Edmonton (Alberta)

Born and raised in St.Albert, just outside Edmonton, Alberta, Chef Ryan Hotchkiss began his culinary career after high school and a move to Whistler B.C., where he got his modest first taste of restaurant work, in the dish pit of a local eatery. After working a few more restaurant jobs, both in front and back of house in Whistler, he made the move back to Edmonton to commence a more formal culinary education and to hone his skills in apprenticeships in established restaurants such as Il Pasticcio, The Sugarbowl, and Sage at the River Cree. He then took a job at Jack’s Grill, where he spent 3 years before moving on to Bar Bricco. He is now the owner and Executive Chef of Bündok in Edmonton where he draws inspiration from seasonal, Canadian ingredients in a continuously evolving, sophisticated and beautifully presented menu.

Helena Loureiro, Portus360 Restaurant, Montreal (Quebec)

Originally from Serra de Santo Antonio, a small village near Fatima in Portugal, Chef Helena Loureiro began her study of culinary arts at the Hotel and Catering Institute of Lisbon and worked in various Portuguese restaurants before her desire to travel led her to Montreal, where she completed her studies at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec. After working as Executive Chef at Le Vintage Restaurant and then as Chef at Alexis le Trotteur day care centre for twelve years, she opened her first restaurant; Portus Calle, and began to share her particular take on Portuguese cuisine and fine dining experience to Montreal’s delight. She then opened two more establishments in the heart of Old Montreal; a small Portuguese gourmet market called Cantinho de Lisboa (“Lisbon’s corner”) as well as Restaurant Helena. Portus Calle is now Portus360 and can be found atop the former Delta Centre-ville, providing a beautiful 360 view as well as joining Restaurant Helena in providing a modern take on Portuguese cuisine served with modern artisanship.

Chef Jonathan Gushue, Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island (Newfoundland)

For Chef Jonathan Gushue, locality is expressed when nature and culture come together through food. After more than two decades away from his home province, Newfoundland-born Gushue returned to his hotel roots as Executive Chef of Fogo Island Inn in February 2018. Gushue’s work experience throughout Canada, England, France, and Japan have further influenced his precise style of cooking that balances imagination and tradition with a focus on the still-wild world. Gushue works with Fogo Island Inn’s kitchen team to add human knowledge to natural offerings and reflect a place-specific food identity.


The National Arts Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across Canada to help create a national stage for the performing arts, and acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. Founded on June 2, 1969, the National Arts Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 with an array of special programming and activities throughout the year.  A home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams – the NAC Orchestra, English Theatre, French Theatre, Dance and NAC Presents. NAC Indigenous Theatre will begin its first season of programming in the fall of 2019. The NAC’s National Creation Fund invests up to $3 million of privately raised funds every year in 15 to 20 ambitious new works by Canadian artists and arts organizations. The NAC building has recently undergone two extensive renewal projects, generously funded by the Government of Canada, which have re-oriented the NAC to the city; allowed the NAC to become more welcoming and accessible; and returned its performance halls and production facilities to contemporary standards. The NAC is at the forefront of youth and educational activities, offering artist training, programs for children and youth, and resources for teachers in communities across Canada. The NAC is also a pioneer in new media, showcasing the performing arts across the country through the Kipnes Lantern, the largest transparent LED installation in North America; using technology to teach students and young artists around the globe; creating top-rated podcasts; and providing a wide range of NAC Orchestra concerts on demand. The NAC is the only bilingual, multidisciplinary performing arts centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world.




Carl Martin  
Senior Advisor, Communications
National Arts Centre  
613 947-7000 x560

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