The Thursday Q&A with E18hteen owner Caroline Gosselin
Caroline Gosselin has worked in the restaurant business for most of her life. She began as a waitress in Ottawa and loved working in the industry. But eventually, she wanted to broaden her horizons, so she decided to take her waitressing skills to Austria, Switzerland and Germany for what ended up being eight years in total. The adventure gave her a broader understanding of the fine art of food and lots of inspiration to bring home to Ottawa.
When a restaurant at 18 York St. closed down, she decided to make an offer on the building, and open E18hteen. Eleven years later, she has since opened a companion restaurant — Sidedoor — and hopes to franchise internationally. She is has a two-year-old son, Levi, is an avid painter and a budding sommelier, but the food industry has always been her passion. She took a few minutes out of her busy life to talk to Style intern Laura Green.
OCS: Who are your style icons?
CG: I like the European glamour girls from the 60s. They’ve always been very individual but as they grew with their career they always kept their style with the ages. Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, etc.
OCS: Mac or PC?
OCS: Favourite websites and blogs?
CG: I follow a couple of different blogs and websites, mostly food-oriented. I like TasteSpotting, and there are some other ones that showcase the trends with food and style.
OCS: Best recent fashion find?
CG: An old Burberry camel coat, with wooden buttons. I found it at the vintage store Clothes Encounters on Bank Street.
OCS: What was your biggest fashion faux-pas, where was it and when?
CG: It must (have been) high school. I used to make my own clothes, and I would get the materials from my mom, from whatever material was lying around the house. She had these old curtains that were a bright orange, and I remember that I made these pants…it was in the “Hammer Time” era, and I wanted those pants.
OCS: What person, place or thing makes you proud or happy to live in Ottawa?
CG: I think it mostly has to do with the nature here. The fact that we live in such a beautiful and healthy city. We don’t have a lot of the pollution and we have a lot of fresh and local foods in our markets. I’m very proud that we have these beautiful things to enjoy right at our fingertips.
OCS: Best restaurant in Ottawa?
CG: Besides my own? I like going to Navarra.
OCS: Favourite piece of furniture?
CG: I have this old farm table that I use as my kitchen table and I really like it because it’s really big. It’s a big reclaimed wooden table that fits about 20 people. It’s great because it’s really wide so the kids can do crafts and homework, and then I can have big dinner parties and invite lots of friends. I got it about five years ago.
OCS: Favourite home accessory?
CG: I think it’s my espresso machine. It’s one of the really good ones, and I really like regular cappuccino the best.
OCS: Qualities you admire in a person?
CG: Sense of humour is most important. And a sense of kindness.
OCS: Fine dining or plain-old diners?
CG: I’ve got to say fine dining. They use more quality ingredients, and it’s a craft and art. I appreciate that.
OCS: Who would you invite for dinner, if you could choose anyone in the world?
CG: It would have to be the Dalai Llama, not only because I’m going to see him in two weeks (He’s coming to the Civic Centre), but because I’ve read a lot of his books. He’s got such a beautiful way of interpreting our life in the western world.
OCS: Favourite food?
CG: I’d have to say foie gras.
OCS: Wine, beer or both?
CG: Definitely wine.
OCS: Favourite visual artist, living or dead?
CG: I really like Frida Khalo. I also like Henri Matisse.
OCS: What’s on your bedside table?
CG: Goodnight Moon. I have a two-year-old, so my book selection has gone from Dr. Seuss to Goodnight Moon.
OCS: Best book you read in the last year?
CG: With a two-year-old, the time to read is very limited. I pick up a lot of books but haven’t had time to finish them, but I read one a little over a year ago by the Dalai Llama, called The Art of Happiness. I bought that book maybe more than 10 years ago and it’s travelled with me all over the world, wherever I moved, and I finally got to it about a year ago. I read it cover-to-cover, so it was worth it.
OCS: Most often played song on your iPod or MP3 player?
CG: Nicki Minaj’s Starships. That’s just because my little guy plays that one all the time, and he just loves it. He’ll play it and get up and dance to it.
OCS: What is your guilty pleasure?
CG: Potato chips and champagne.
OCS: What is your favourite place to spend time?
CG: It would have to be at the kitchen table with family. I like the family unit, and just being with the family.
OCS: Describe your perfect day off, (it could be anywhere in the world.)
CG: I had one of those days not too long ago. It was in Las Vegas and we were sitting by the pool where they had this awesome DJ from New York City. We were having drinks and could get up and walk over to have lunch in the restaurant. The views were gorgeous; there were lots of good people. It was 30 degrees out, and it was just paradise.
OCS: What is your earliest memory?
CG: I remember my mom used to sing a lot to me. We would travel with the camper in the back. My parents belonged to this trailer association and we’d go camping, so I would always lie on her lap and she would sing to me. It was probably an eight-track from ABBA.
OCS: What is your proudest moment?
CG: One of my proudest moments was giving birth. You can have a lot of accomplishments, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about the kids.
OCS: How would you like the world to remember you? What would your eulogist ideally say?
CG: I think just to be remembered as a kind person is the most important thing. If I have helped somebody else in my life, that would be all I would really need to accomplish.