Our Team

Stephen Beckta
Stephen Beckta is proprietor of Beckta, and its sister restaurants, Play food & wine and gezellig. After graduating with honours from Algonquin College’s Sommelier program, Stephen departed Ottawa to hone his skills in New York City for four years with the top players in the restaurant industry. Stephen started at Café Boulud working for the celebrated chef, Daniel Boulud, followed by two years with renowned restaurateur Danny Meyer at Eleven Madison Park before returning to his native city. Stephen has been named Top Independent Restaurateur in Ontario by the Ontario Hostelry Institute (2007), won the National Terroir "Outstanding Service Professional" Award (2013), won the Bill Joe Restaurateur of the Year Award in Ottawa by ORHMA (2011), nominated for the Ontario Premier’s Awards in Business twice (2006, 2010), named one of Ottawa Life Magazine’s Top 50 people twice (2003, 2010) one of Ottawa’s Top 40 under 40 by the Ottawa Business Journal (2008) and Algonquin College’s Alumni of the year (2010). Stephen is proud to be the Chair of the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa where he is also an alumnus .
Clay Cardillo
Managing Partner
Clay Cardillo is the Managing Partner for Beckta, as well as for its sister restaurants Play food & wine and gezellig. Clay completed the Algonquin Culinary Program in 1998 before becoming the Sous Chef for LeMetro in Ottawa. From there Clay worked in the kitchens of the NAC and The Keg,and was soon promoted within The Keg to open restaurants as Kitchen Manager. Here he began to find that while he got into the business to work with food and wine, he enjoyed working with the people in the restaurants as much as the product. Before long, Clay was recruited by SirCorp, then a small Canadian restaurant corporation, to be the opening Kitchen Manager and then General Manager for a number of restaurants throughout Southern Ontario. After 9 years and soon after the birth of his first child, Clay left SirCorp to become Business Development Manager at Cara, where he helped owners develop their people and restaurants. In 2012, Clay joined the Beckta family of restaurants of Beckta dining & wine, Play food & wine and gezellig, where he is happy to fulfill his passion for building business by driving hospitality.
Rich Wilson
Chef Partner
Chef-Partner Rich Wilson started his kitchen career like many Chef’s do, in the dish pit. At 17, in his hometown of Peterborough he worked at The Night Kitchen while attending Trent University studying political science. In his fourth year, he left school with the overwhelming feeling that “all he wanted to do was cook.” He began his career with Beckta in 2010 as a line-cook and was soon promoted to Senior Sous Chef. In 2014 he left to open Pomeroy House, and returned to the Beckta restaurant group as Chef of Gezellig in 2018. In February 2020, he joined Beckta once again as Chef, running the kitchen as well as composing the menus for the Curated by Beckta meal-kit program. In October 2021 he joined Stephen Beckta and Clay Cardillo as Chef and Partner of Beckta Dining & Wine. When he’s not at Beckta, you can find Chef Rich spending time with his wife Lindsay and dog Winston. What can we look forward to from Chef Rich? “Vibrant dining experiences, from a more casual/approachable atmosphere in Beckta’s wine bar to an elevated, fine dining experience in our more formal dining rooms.”
Pieter van den Weghe
Director of Operations
For 13 years, Pieter served and managed at Ottawa’s Courtyard Restaurant. Along the way, he fell in love with two things. The first was the rewarding experience of looking after people. The second was all things wine. Both of these passions led him to become a graduate of Algonquin’s College’s Sommelier Program and earn a Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits from the WSET. First joining Beckta as Service Manager in 2006, Pieter became our Sommelier in 2008. Since then, he’s crafted a diverse wine list, which promotes delicious Canadian and international wines from great producers who make wine with a sense of place. Outside of Beckta, Pieter continues to spread the word about wine through his teaching at Algonquin College and his articles in Diplomat magazine.
Katie Ardington
Executive Chef
At age thirteen, Katie began her restaurant career as a pub dishwasher in her hometown of Brockville, Ontario, and went on to work every station in the kitchen and dining room, falling in love with the bustling industry. Following this passion, Katie enrolled at Algonquin College’s Culinary School, graduating on the Deans List with Honours in 2003. Her ambition for fine-dining excellence brought her to an entry-level kitchen position of the critically-acclaimed Beckta dining & wine in 2005. Katie quickly worked her way up to Chef du Cuisine at Beckta’s innovative small-plates sister restaurant Play food & wine, and then returned to lead the flagship kitchen at Beckta as its Chef de Cuisine in 2012. After five years and countless accolades, she was honoured to be chosen as Chef at 24 Sussex, cooking for Prime Minister Trudeau. In 2018 Katie was proud to accept the much larger role as Executive Chef role at the Beckta restaurant group, which includes Beckta, Play and Gezellig. Katie leads all three kitchens with huge aspirations, working alongside each restaurant chef to care for and inspire their teams, while celebrating each restaurant’s unique menus. Her vision is to not only make our three restaurants the most compelling places to dine in the city, but to also to create the best culture of hospitality for her restaurant family to grow and thrive in. In 2010, Katie received the prestigious Top 30 Under 30 Award from the Ontario Hostelry Institute, and regularly gives back to the community through countless events and initiatives that reflect her strong values of caring for people through inspiring food.
Connor Gallagher
Executive Wine Director
During his over twenty years of experience in the service industry, Connor has garnered an intimate understanding of hospitality. His experience comes from working in some of the top resorts in the Canadian Rockies & Whistler/Blackcomb and spending several years honing his wine craft in some of the top restaurants in Montréal. He first joined the Beckta Restaurant Group as Sommelier at Play in 2014 and is now the Executive Wine Director of Play Food & Wine, Beckta Dining & Wine, Gezellig and our Curated by Beckta Program. Connor uses wine as a vessel to deliver hospitality and relishes in sharing the stories he's learned along the way. In April 2018, he successfully passed the Advanced Court of Master Sommeliers certification, on his first attempt no less. And is now sitting the final stages of the Master's examination process. Despite having achieved some of the highest wine accreditations out there, the most important thing about wine to Connor is its accessibility. Sharing experiences with people of all knowledge levels, breaking down pretensions and the collective experience of enjoyment.
Candace Battig
Assistant General Manager
Lukas Zajicek
Sous Chef
My Nguyen
Sous Chef, Curated By Beckta
Malissa Thok
Manager, Curated By Beckta