Home » Entertaining » Expert Interview Series: Daniel Reyes of Do The Daniel Inc. on Ottawa’s Food Scene And How Foodies Support Local Culture

Expert Interview Series: Daniel Reyes of Do The Daniel Inc. on Ottawa’s Food Scene And How Foodies Support Local Culture

Daniel Reyes is a lifestyle blogger who has built a unique Canadian brand, Do The Daniel, sharing lifestyle content with a team around the world. With content in four countries, in three languages, he loves to share his adventures on a daily basis via #DoTheDaniel. Follow along with him and his team on Instagram: @DoTheDaniel

Do The Daniel is one of Canada’s fastest growing food and lifestyle blogs. How did you get started writing about local food and culture?

I always love to tell this story. When I first met Julio Reyes of FASHIONIGHTS, now my husband, I had no idea what a blog even was. But when I started writing for his outlet, I quickly fell in  love with this industry. Since that point, I launched DoTheDaniel.com and have built it into an empire of my own. I owe my success entirely to Julio, who still inspires me every day to chase my dreams.

What are some things that separate Do The Daniel from other Canadian food blogs out there, contributing to your popularity?

I think it’s our ability to combine the voices of our team around the world into something familiar. We embrace diversity and differences, and at the end of the day we love sharing our adventures around the world with our audience. We aren’t like anything out there and understand the necessity to keep evolving with each new day.

Do The Daniel is unique in that you’re not just a food blog, you also cover travel, lifestyle, and nutrition. How does your travel, health, and nutrition writing and experience contribute to the way that you write about food?

I have always, and will always, love food. I worked in the restaurant industry for almost a decade and that experience gave me a passion that I carry with me throughout our adventures. Let’s be honest – everyone has to eat, so why not enjoy the experience and share that alongside our other adventures? I love to try new things and I’m always excited to showcase that via our unique voice.

You wrote a post recently about a Doughnut Festival in Toronto. First of all, what were some of the highlights of the Toronto Doughnut Festival, for you? Secondly, what are some other local foodie festivals you’d recommend, and why?

I think some highlights from the festival was it’s ability to gather together some of the best businesses in the city into one hub. I know that I could appreciate the convenience and excitement around that experience. Food festivals are always a lot of fun because they bring people together over their love of something tangibly beautiful. Some other foodie festivals that I always recommend are of course Taste of Toronto here in Canada and Taste of London in the UK. There are so many amazing food events, but those are just a few of my favourites.

CBC News posted about Ottawa’s Food Scene in 2017, where they analyze some of 2017’s local food trends. The author makes a dig at beet salads, as they’re on nearly every gourmet menu. Is there a prevalent health food scene in Ottawa, at the moment?

I think that the past few years has helped to showcase the skill of Ottawa chefs and their restaurants. There is new energy in the city, especially with #Canada150 & #Ottawa2017 events taking place for us all to enjoy. I try to avoid negative stories to be honest. If beets are in, and they support local farmers, then they should be on every gourmet menu! The health food trend isn’t going anywhere, and in my opinion it shouldn’t. I try to visit restaurants that support local and seasonal ingredients, so when I find one, I become a loyal patron. I encourage those who live in and visit Ottawa to do the same.

Several noteworthy chefs, from Stephen Beckta, Jon Svazas, and Lori Wojcik are all opening new restaurants in Ottawa in 2017. Is Ottawa’s foodie scene on the rise, would you say? What are some reasons why gourmet eating is catching on?

The Ottawa food scene has been on the rise since 2014 in my opinion. I have a huge respect for those three chefs, being partial to Stephen Beckta since I worked for him for a long time and love everything he does. I think gourmet eating is catching on because it’s becoming more accessible to the everyday patron. Food blogs and social media are a great way to see and share delicious experiences, which ultimately adds to the desire for more. Gourmet doesn’t mean stuffy anymore, and at the end of the day, that is a win-win situation for the restaurant industry.

Former U.S. President Barrack Obama stopped by the Beaver Tails pastry stand at Byward Market a few years ago, while visiting Ottawa. Have you been to the Byward Market, by chance, and if so, what should people see, smell, and taste while they’re there? Also, what makes Ottawa’s food scene enticing enough to attract a President?

Having lived in Ottawa for almost 15 years in my younger years, I frequented the Byward Market on almost a daily basis. If I could make one recommendation to visitors to Ottawa, it would be to visit the local farmers and vendors that line the streets around the Byward square in the summer for some of the best produce I have ever tasted! I to this day dream of the fresh bread at Moulin De Provence, the cheese from International Cheese & Deli and of course the FAMOUS sandwiches from La Bottega Nicastro Fine Food Shop.

In a travel guide, blogger Jim Byers wrote about several noteworthy sights to see when visiting Ottawa, as well as some nearby places to eat and drink. Could you recommend any sightseeing/foodie double features, for a particularly memorable or iconic Ottawa experience?

If I was to curate a list of must-see / must-taste experiences in Ottawa it would absolutely include High Tea at the Chateau Laurier, dinner at Play Food & Wine in the Byward Market; a walk along Bank Street in the Glebe for shopping; a relaxing afternoon with a book on Westboro beach (a well kept secret I might add!) and of course a visit to Parliament Hill. Just to name a few!

Do The Daniel doesn’t just focus on Canadian food and culture, as you feature writers from all around the world. How do food writing and local foodie cultures support diverse, authentic experiences of a people and place, and why is that important?

I think that is the definition of both what it means to be Canadian and at #DoTheDaniel. To embrace the diversity that unites us all as human beings. Sharing food and cultural experiences shows us that no matter what barrier you may think divides you from someone, we can all unite to experience something so beautifully simple as a good meal.

You’ve traveled all over the world, writing for Do The Daniel. Where have been some of the most memorable locations you’ve visited? Do you know of any local restaurants that also do online deliveries, to experience a place you’ve never been, or are just craving?

I love to travel and experience the world, especially when it comes to visiting a destination I’ve never been. Right now my favourite places in the world are Mexico City, Detroit and Halifax (check out our visit here at Marriott’s Travel Blog). Three distinctly unique cities that have so much to offer the world, especially when it comes to food! Insofar as trying new restaurants, I always recommend checking their website. Using tools like Foodora in Toronto and Montreal is also a great way to step out of your culinary comfort zone and try something new!

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