Mad Radish - Stephanie
Tell us a little about yourself?
Born in Montreal, I moved to Belgium at the age of seven and lived in Brussels for eleven years. My father worked in the hotel industry so I had the opportunity to travel all around Europe and visit some beautiful cities. Growing up overseas was an incredible experience that I don’t think I truly appreciated until I moved back to Canada for University. I realized just how fortunate I was to have seen and experienced so much before my twenties. I think that seeing my father work in the hotel and service industry for so many years, definitely pushed me to also want to be a part of this field. I love meeting and interacting with people, which is something that has been a HUGE part of this job since helping open Mad Radish last July.
I love the idea of creating an experience for our new customers but also building a relationship with our regulars. Customer service comes very naturally to me - I genuinely enjoy getting to know people! Ottawa has been an incredible city, and the Glebe such a special neighbourhood, to open one our first stores in. I love the sense of community here, a big city with a small town feel.
So Mad Radish makes salads exciting and you serve a few other dishes as well. What is unique about the food at Mad Radish?
First, the quality. We source the best quality ingredients we can, as locally as possible. And we make everything we can in house - from our hot sauce to our focaccia bread.
Secondly, the taste. Although there are some amazing healthy options in Ottawa, we've found it can be difficult to get a super nutritious meal that is also crave-worthy. And we truly believe that the first step to eating right is craving right. We make our food as delicious as possible to get people excited about eating their veggies.
What was the inspiration for Mad Radish?
We touched on it a bit in the last question, but it was really just filling a need: healthy food for busy people. We believe people want to eat better, but with ten burger shops for every health food restaurant, it can be hard to find good options. We're just trying to make nourishing food more available for people in Ottawa -- and to make it really exciting, to boot. It's really just the food that WE want to eat!
Does the seasonality of certain ingredients play a large impact on your menu?
Absolutely! The growing season in Ontario is short but mighty, and in the summer, we want to celebrate all the amazing local produce we can find, whether it's peaches, berries, tomatoes...you name it. Then, as the weather starts to cool down, we've found that people gravitate more to our heartier warm bowls. So, this year, we will definitely try to have more warm, filling options available in the fall and winter.
When you are not busy working and making sure you are serving patrons with delicious and nutritious fare, what do you do for fun?
I like to think that I live an active lifestyle, I enjoy being outside, taking in the fresh air while walking my dogs or running first thing in the morning. Since travelling was such a big part of my childhood and upbringing, I do love exploring new places - if only time would allow more of it. I do have to say that enjoying a nice glass of wine here and there doesn’t hurt either!
How does sustainability play a part at Mad Radish?
This question makes me so happy! Sustainability is such a huge and important part of what we do. We have worked incredibly hard to make sure every single piece of packaging in our stores is compostable -- takeout bowls, cups, cutlery, napkins, bread bags, even our straws! We are so committed to this practice, we don't even have garbage cans in the restaurants. And when it comes to our food, we buy from local farms whenever possible, and try to find creative ways to reduce food waste, like using the same sweet potatoes in our Fired Up Chicken bowl and our Creamy Pumpkin Soup.
If Justin Trudeau walked into Mad Radish what would you serve him?
We try to treat every customer like a celebrity, so he would get the same amazing service as anyone else that walked through our door! And that means we'd probably recommend our fan favourite combo: the Smoky Caesar salad and a mini loaf of our Rosemary Focaccia. It's tasty, filling...and just happens to be vegan!
You partner with Community Food Centres Canada! How is it important to make sure everyone has access to fresh produce?
This is so, so important to us. Access to good, healthy food is something that too many of us take for granted. Right now, more than 4 million Canadians are food insecure, meaning they don't know where their next meal is coming from, or they have to choose between food and something else they need. We partnered with CFCC because we are so inspired by what they do, and we want to do everything we can to amplify their amazing mission. Not everyone realized this, but every time you place an order through our app or website, we donate a serving of fresh produce to a low-income community!
You currently have 2 locations. Will you ever expand outside Ottawa?
Yes, absolutely. We are hoping to open in Toronto later this year, and we will be expanding in Ottawa as well, with a new location at Kent & Slater opening this summer! We love Ottawa, and there's nowhere else we could have made our start.
How has Ottawa played a part in the launch of Mad Radish?
David Segal, our founder, is from Ottawa, and after spending so much time in Montreal for DAVIDsTEA, he really wanted to come back to his home base for his next venture. He lives right in the Glebe, and I think it was important to him to have one of our first stores in that neighbourhood. There is a big vegan and heath-conscious community in Ottawa, and it's been so wonderful getting to know them better and also gathering feedback from local customers that want to see us succeed. It meant a lot to all of us to start out in Canada's capital and take it from there!
We tried the Mad Hot Sauce with the Falafel Salad. Do you think that the sauce should have a warning label? :)
That is so funny! I hope it wasn't too hot to handle. One funny thing about making hot sauce in-house is that you're working with real, fresh ingredients...and there can definitely be variance from batch to batch depending on how spicy your peppers are. That said, it's developed quite a cult following...some customers are so crazy about Mad Hot Sauce they've been asking us to bottle it! Hopefully we'll be able to make that a reality soon -- WITH a spiciness warning sticker. ;)