Today you will have the honor to meet these young inspirational entrepreneurs that are offering Alberta's newest dining experience in the comfort of your home. Allow me to share what I have learned about these local business pioneers.
Daniel De Oliveira is one half of this power duo, born in Edmonton to a Portuguese Father and Argentine and Italian mother Daniel was submerged into a very diverse and cultural upbringing. He learned how to speak multiple languages and appreciated his cultural diversity, but most of all he loved the family experience and bonding you share while sitting and enjoying good food and drinks with family and friends, and how important of a staple this was in his everyday life. At the age of eight Daniel’s parents, specifically his father decided to move to Portugal along with his father’s four siblings and their spouses and children. Daniel's father and uncle opened a restaurant/café in Portugal and it was then that Daniel’s journey would begin. While growing, Daniel started to develop and define his taste and love for Mediterranean cuisine, culture and influence. It was not uncommon for his parents to take him and his brother to Spain for coffee, ice cream or a family dinner as they lived in a Northern City in Portugal only 90 minutes from the border. In1998 his family would decide to return to Canada, but the change would only further his journey into the culinary and restaurant industry. Moving in with his Italian grandmother and Argentine grandfather in Canada, Daniel and his grandmother developed a strong bond over cooking. He learned a lot of things from his Grandmother including traditional Italian cuisine with a dash of South American influence. Years later his uncle would return from Portugal to open a restaurant in the Edmonton downtown core and it was there that Daniel would work years later as an adult.
The other half of this power couple is Vanessa Ojeda, also born in Edmonton to a Father from Chile and a mother who was of Chilean/German descent. Vanessa was a vibrant child and stood out to everyone with her outgoing personality, positivity and vibrant energy for life. Everyone who knew her became instantly mesmerized because of her contagious personality and her helpful caring nature. Vanessa’s charismatic and magnetic personality throughout her childhood and teenage years brought friends and family together for many impromptu events like backyard BBQ or household parties. She realized early on that she had a gift – a knack for organizing events and bringing people together. Vanessa used these traits and her abundance of energy to navigate her education and future career endeavors. In 2014, while enjoying the Edmonton summer, Vanessa pondered the possibility of heightening the summer experience. This would be the beginning of the Food Bike Tour, founded, by Vanessa herself. Over the past 5 years under Vanessa’s expert tutelage, the Food Bike Tour would prove to be a huge success in Edmonton. People loved the idea of going to restaurants and bars getting a behind the scenes look into this industry, while riding their bikes through the river valley. Vanessa became partnered with dozens of restaurants in the local scene and made an impressive name for herself through her unwavering support of local business and products. Vanessa also finds the time in her busy schedule to contribute her time and energy to many charity events including Casa and Path for people.
Daniel and Vanessa met in the summer of 2018 while Vanessa was operating the Food Bike Tour and one of the stops on the tour happened to be the place of work for Daniel. They became inseparable and had a great idea for future Food Bike Tours. As we know the world quickly changed in March of 2020 as the world entered into a pandemic which resulted in a nationwide lockdown of non-essential businesses. With this uncertainty at the forefront of everyone’s daily life, figuring how to manage restrictions in the wake of this pandemic would be so important. As the months went on, Vanessa and Daniel would see many partners’ businesses suffer the wrath of the restrictions as well as people’s fear of going out and enjoying the hospitality industry. They wanted to somehow change this and provide relief in any way they could. This was the genesis of chef kits and the idea of people staying home while cooking these outstanding meals in a safe setting with only those closest to us. If anything, this pandemic taught us all is the time shared, and memories made by spending time together and slowing down to take a minute in life and appreciate the smaller things a bit more, is more important now than ever. These two started doing their research and logistically figuring the ins and outs of making this happen. Speaking with chefs to see who would like to make an instructional video and teach their craft while promoting themselves and showcasing their business and dish that best represents them to people at home along with being paid a royalty for every box sold as residual income to help contribute to these restaurants stay alive and help pay those rent bills. They purchased some recording equipment and created an event to see the engagement response. It was a phenomenal success and they sold over 75 dishes for Father's Day. AS they progressed Chef Kits, they developed a following from Edmonton and Alberta tourism along with Ice on Whyte and downtown business association. With help and some guidance, the beast was born, along with other products they thought people would appreciate such as Cocktail Kits, Wine Tasting Kits, Live Zoom events and guided and non-guided Walking Tours. They put all these products under one umbrella called Chef Table Living. They didn't just want to be another site offering only products but follow a set of core values which are promoting local People, Products and Places while giving their audience knowledge of healthy eating tips recipes and promoting a healthy lifestyle to Edmontonians along with informing what interesting events are happening in the city all year round. I was given the opportunity to try the Chef Kit product and it was amazingly easy to follow. I found it be very well organized and I and my family will definitely be doing this again and again. It was a pleasure to meet these young entrepreneurs and I personally can't wait to see what comes next for these 2 and Chef Table Living.
Kefah Hayek MSc (Eng)
Clinical Safety Lead - Royal Alexandra Hospital and Sturgeon Community Hospital
Prosci Certified Change Practitioner