Photographing Chef Stephen La Salle

On a frigid date night late last winter, my wife and I headed downtown to catch a friend’s band play. We were already excited to be out because our friend plays in Sloan, one of my all-time favorite Canadian bands, but a last minute change in plans had us stumble on a nearby restaurant called The Albion Rooms. The show was better than ever, but what we talked about for days and weeks afterwards was this new restaurant we discovered and the incredible food they served. We still talk about it.

Ladies and gentlemen, please meet the head chef and culinary mastermind behind The Albion Rooms, Stephen La Salle.

Leading the charge at The Albion Rooms for the past three years, Stephen has turned a hotel restaurant into one of the best dining experiences in the city with its beautiful mix of modern cool and rustic je ne sais quoi. For all you Mad Men fans out there, this is where the 21st century Don Draper would frequent. Whether you’re in for the salmon & eggs breakfast; the elk burger dinner; or just popping by for a cocktail such as my favorite, Rye PA, you are guaranteed to leave htheappy. But don’t take my word for it, take the word of The New York Daily News and many other positive reviews La Salle has garnered.

When he’s not cooking or overseeing operations in the kitchen, Stephen can often be found at the front of the house, perched at the corner of the bar preparing apps and making final touches to dishes while chatting with patrons. This is yet one more reason why the members of the Bytown Chefs Collective succeed in the industry. After shooting four of this group of seven, I have yet to find one of these guys with an over-inflated ego and too self-absorbed to want to be face-to-face with his customer base. They continue to blow my mind, and La Salle is no exception.

I get the sense that Stephen has a low key, easy going personality which probably serves him well in what I can only imagine to be a highly stressful job. However, when he gets down to work, his game face shows nothing but focus as he prepares his meals, and the swiftness and ease at which he moves around the kitchen is truly something to witness.

If you’re ever in Ottawa and want to have one of the best dining experiences of your life, make sure to visit Stephen La Salle at The Albion Rooms. Oh, and don’t forget to Tweet or Instagram your experience as he loves to engage with people on social media.

I hope you’re enjoying this chef series featuring the Bytown Chefs Collective as much as I’m enjoying producing it. I’d love to hear your feedback on the series, or stories about great dining experiences in the comments. Here is a gallery from the shoot…