He was a political strategist who worked on Parliament Hill. She had a background in marketing and communications.
So what do you get when your typical Ottawa couple puts everything on the line to follow a dream of opening a restaurant?
Small successes, a series of messes and a roller-coaster ride of fights, laughter and tears.
A challenge for anyone, but when you’re doing it in front of millions of people on national television, it’s even tougher.
On Wednesday night, ZenKitchen chef Caroline Ishii and sommelier Dave Loan go from restaurant owners to reality television stars when their 13-part series, The Restaurant Adventures of Caroline and Dave, premieres on W Network.
Several years ago, Ishii, then a consultant, pursued a lifelong passion by attending chef school in New York.
The couple began a personal chef business and started hosting wildly popular monthly dinners.
They had just begun toying with putting their life savings on the line to open a vegan restaurant when they heard a production company was looking for a couple who was opening their own restaurant.
“We laughed at the idea of having our own reality show,” said Loan, but after submitting a last-minute application, they got an offer for their own show in late 2008.
For the next year, a film crew had the keys to the couple’s restaurant and their house, filming 50 hours a week at the restaurant, their home, on errands and even during a romantic weekend getaway to Montreal.
“They saw it all,” said Ishii. “The fighting, the anger, the depression and the happiness.”
“It shows us at our best, at our worst, the problems we face and how we struggle to deal with them,” Loan added.
While the pair has not seen all the episodes, they’re confident the series will have appeal.
“We wanted it to be a real-life story of a couple,” Ishii said. “And it makes a good story. It’s a roller-coaster ride every day.”
The experience — both of opening a restaurant and starring in a TV show —“stressed and strengthened our relationship,” said Ishii.
People will be able to learn from the series, Ishii said.
“Life is short, and you have to follow your dream,” she said.