Shawarma City documentary searches for root of Ottawa's love

Inspired by the concentration of shawarma shops in Ottawa's core, a man with a love of slow roasted meat packed in a pita with garlic sauce set out to find what sparked it all in a 30-minute documentary.

Documentary leads him on a hunt for 'legendary' owner of former Marroush on Elgin Street

Conor DeVries maps shawarma shops in Ottawa in his search for the root of Ottawa's passion for the Lebanese food. (You Tube)

Inspired by the concentration of shawarma shops in Ottawa's core, a man with a love of slow roasted meat packed in a pita with garlic sauce set out to find what sparked it all in a 30-minute documentary.

Conor DeVries claims the ground zero of shawarma is Marroush, a former shop on Elgin Street with a theme song that used to host late-night parties where the after-bar crowd would feast and dance on tables.

"It started off being about why shawarma is so popular in Ottawa," he said.

"In that journey of trying to find answers to that, it turned into a bit more of a story about trying to find this one famous shawarma character."

DeVries hunts for the elusive owner of Marroush, sifting through old pamphlets, interviewing other shawarma shop owners and even writing a song in honour of the man. But though he eventually reaches the "legendary" owner over the phone after a "wild goose chase," he said he was unable to land an on-camera interview.

"He just, I guess, really doesn't want to meet and do it," he said. "I'd still like to interview him to hear his stories."

Part of the reason that shawarma is so popular in Ottawa is that two per cent of the city's population is Lebanese, according to Statistics Canada.

"Lebanese people account for a larger share of the population of Ottawa than that of any other census metropolitan area across the country," according to Statistics Canada.

But one fan in the documentary has a simpler theory.

"It caters to both the drunk and the sober people. Everybody loves shawarma."

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