Supporting veteran owned businesses
Published in ReKindled Ottawa Magazine November 2020
This month, we had the privilege of interviewing two local heroes! Terry Capener, of Kanata Soup and Mike George of Aurelius Food Co. are both veterans who now own amazing businesses here in Ottawa.
Can you tell me a bit about yourselves and your businesses?
Terry: I was born and raised in Port Hope, Ontario. I joined the military in 1982 and served 31 years in the Air Force. We hand make artisan dried soup mixes using curated local (which we dehydrate ourselves fresh off the farm) and Canadian produce. Our recipes are bespoke and we hand make our mixes in a commercial kitchen that is licensed and inspected.
Mike: My name is Mike George and I am the owner and founder of Aurelius Food Co. We are an olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting boutique in Ottawa. We also supply oils to some of the finest chefs and restaurants in the city!
You also both served in the military! What were your roles during your service?
Terry: I was a radio technician, servicing radar and communication systems.
Mike: I was in the special forces in Petawawa. I served in the CSOR Canadian Special Operations Regiment. I was released in 2018 to open the store.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Terry: I was medically retired from the air force and my wife medically retired around the same time due to developing several auto immune diseases, one of which results in severe food and environmental allergies. The more natural a food, the less [allergic] reactions would happen. We started experimenting with different foods and recipes and found lots of different and delicious flavour combinations. We let friends and family try some of our experiments and they enjoyed them, so we decided to package them and try them out at some smaller farmers' markets. They were a hit and we have continued to grow our brand from there!
Mike: I was visiting family in Italy in August 2016 when my uncle asked me if I thought I could sell their olive oil in Canada. I just decided to make it happen. Soon we were selling so much that they couldn't keep up with the production. He began to buy from his local village and still does. To this day, he is at every sale in the village and then ships the oils over to us in Canada.
What skills transferred from your earlier careers to your current passions?
Terry: Customer relations translated well from my military to civilian life and our business. I love to speak with folks about our soup mixes and explain all the different options and how we are unique in that we curate and dehydrate locally.
Mike: I think the biggest thing that impacted me is the ability to be resilient in stressful situations. You really learn not to overreact to things, to be able to take problems one step at a time and to be focused on the solutions instead of the negative. I also developed a very good work ethic and became accustomed to working in small teams.
What does it mean to you when someone supports fellow veterans?
Terry: It makes me happy that people recognize veterans and how they have protected and supported Canada through these many years.
Mike: To me it is always humbling. I greatly appreciate anyone who takes time to support us, even by just sharing or supporting.
Thank you so much for your time and what you do for the country and community! Thank you for sharing your stories!
Please visit and support these two local businesses and show them your love!