The House of Manuela
*Behind every menu, product and experience, you’ll find passionate people and their stories. Discover these proud Outaouais ambassadors!
“It’s my favourite book,” says Camilla, Manuela’s younger daughter. The book in question, The House of Scorta (Le soleil des Scorta), by Laurent Gaudé, is directly linked to the story of Manuela’s bistro, Biscotti et cie (Biscotti & Co.). Adds Manuela, “It’s all about love, family, friendship—values that are very dear to me.” That was the inspiration.
“It started with an opportunity. After I opened the Chelsea Pub, I had a hankering to open a café. You don’t launch that kind of project for the money, you do it for the trip.”
This particular trip started taking shape in 2012. “I wanted to create a space with personality.” What exactly is the personality of her two businesses? “The Chelsea Pub is a sports fan. It’s proud! Biscotti, on the other hand, has a warm, peaceful feel. Everyone who steps through the door is charmed by its relaxed, bohemian vibe. And people feel at home in both places.”
Camilla leaves the table and goes back to serving customers. She and her sister Elisa started working at Biscotti as dishwashers, back when they were 12 and 15 years old.
Pastry chefs Ariane and Paco come by to say hello. Manuela introduces them warmly. They’re part of the family too!
It’s obvious when you meet Manuela that she loves contact with people. The network she has created is rich. “I like to walk around and greet 10 people in 15 minutes. Chelsea is not an anonymous place.” With her many ideas for the village, she makes a point of meeting personally with all the residents affected by each project. “They’ve come to know me. They’re sometimes skeptical at first, but as soon as they understand where I’m going with my ideas, they get on board.”
And what is she most proud of? “I had a vision, a concept of a place for meaningful encounters, and I managed with my partner Martin to make it happen. And I already know what I want to do in future: create places that have a soul.”
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