This fall exciting changes are coming to the Lord Elgin Hotel, namely a new restaurant called Grill 41 (in recognition of 1941, the year the hotel was built). It features a coat-to-coast Canadian menu that was created in partnership with Chef Michael Smith and Chef Aurelio Petraglia.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Chef Petraglia and here is how it went:

(Simply Fresh) You are such an accomplished Chef, having gained experience working all over the world: New York, France,  Montreal, Dubai – why are you excited to be working in Ottawa at this stage in your career?

(Chef Petraglia) My mother once told me to treat life as one way traffic; “always move forward”. Ottawa represents a new challenge with much to offer for my career path.

Looking back, what made you want to become a Chef? What ignited your passion for food and cooking?

The truth is I never thought I would become a Chef, but once I submitted myself to this profession I didn’t want to leave it.

The only thing that I can sincerely say influenced me a little bit was probably growing up in a family where people would discuss the next meal as they were eating dinner.

The Lord Elgin hotel is a landmark in Ottawa with a tradition and reputation of elegance and excellence – how do you feel this history will impact or influence Grill 41?

It’s a great honour to be a part of a property with this type of history, I just love looking at the hotel from across the street, and it’s beautiful.

This menu is collaboration between yourself and Chef Michael Smith, how did you find the experience of working together? What strengths did you bring vs. Chef Smith?

Chef Michael Smith brought a wealth of experience to the table; I am very fortunate to be involved with a Chef of his stature. Chef Michael has a passion for all fresh and local, I also feel the same and do my very best to live by this way of cooking.

Grill 41 will showcase a coast-to-coast menu highlighting all the best ingredients that Canada has to offer – what dishes are you most excited about?

Eric Benazet, our restaurant manager helped us develop the tart flambé, it’s a brilliant dish. Alsatian style pizza with pure goodness, this definitely has to be my favourite dish. I especially like it with the caramelized onions and double smoked bacon.

Thank you Chef Aurelio for your time and great answers! I’m really looking forward to the opening of Grill 41 – the coast to coast menu will highlight the best Canada has to offer while giving back. The table d’hôte menu option will see a portion of proceeds going to the Ottawa Food Bank.