Food & Wine Photo Credit: Carlo Ricci, Carey Shaw, Aaron Pedersen and Clinton Hussey

2013 Foodies of the Year

We’re half a decade into this exercise of scouring the West in search of the young turks who are shaping (and shaking up) the way we eat, shop and drink, and narrowing the list to just 40 has become progressively more difficult each year. All of which underscores the point that living here—with its near-perfect blend of urban and rural, beauty and bounty—is the ideal place to be a foodie.

“There’s a food revolution building in the West. It’s such an exciting place to live,visit and above all, eat right now.”

Chefs John Jackson & Connie DeSousa, Chefs of the Year 2011

 

Nicole Kammerer, 35
Owner/Chef, Nicole Gourmet, Calgary
Catering has become the path for chefs who crave creative control, and in Calgary, the hottest name to do your do is Kammerer. She brings technical skills (the same that endeared her to David Hawksworth and Michael Noble) and a no-holds-barred approach to a menu. And a little bird tells us you may just see her on Season 3 of Top Chef Canada.

Nicole Lamb, 25 & Carli Baum, 28
Managing Partners, Bite Beef, Balzac, Alberta
You know how chefs rave about how little you need to do when the steak you are cooking is perfect? This is the pair that is trying to create that perfect steak with their “slow-grown” process—think grass-fed cows that are aged longer. They may just reinvent the definition of what a good cut of meat is.

It looks like a Wild West elixir and tastes the way ginger ale should: this is one of the Organic Fair products we can't live without.
It looks like a Wild West elixir and tastes the way ginger ale should: this is one of the Organic Fair products we can’t live without.

Sarah Wallbank, 37
General Manager/Co-owner, Riso Foods, Lantzville, B.C.
If you blink, you’d miss the turnoff to this tiny enclave just north of Nanaimo. Wallbank manages to juggle artisan wood-fired baking, pastry making, meat curing, thin-crust pizza and house-made pasta with the same deftness as her cappuccino and seasonal gelato—all the while tapping into expertly sourced, locally grown ingredients, a finely tuned wine list and fun cocktails, too.

Justin Lussier, 32, Jason Allard, 32 & Christian Bullock, 38
Founders, Famoso, Edmonton
Napoli pizza quickly went from food to fetish. Is it “tipo 00” flour? How hot is the oven? San Marzano tomatoes in the sauce? For the record, this trio nails all the pizza geek points but, more importantly, they’d rather serve classic Napoli pizza to as many people as possible. By this summer they’ll have more than 25 outlets, from Victoria to Saskatoon plus three in Ontario. They even opened one on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, the city’s centre for West Coast Italian culture. Now that takes some coglioni. World domination can’t be far off.

John Michael MacNeil, 31
Chef, Teatro, Calgary
Changing an institution like Teatro is a dicey proposition: diners know what they like, and they don’t want it messed with. The genius of MacNeil is that he’s managed to keep the restaurant current—some foam here, a splash of liquid nitrogen there—without abandoning the core of French and Italian technique that still packs ’em in.

Jacob Pelletier, 25
Executive Pastry Chef, Duchess Bakeshop, Edmonton
Forget Edmonton: the question is whether the Duchess is the best bakery in Canada. Their Paris-Brest is a vicarious bike trip to northwestern France, and if they ever stop baking lime tarts, there will surely be a revolt in northern Alberta. A formal Duchess dessert bar is next on Pelletier’s horizon (and that’s worth skipping dinner for).

Darryl Crumb, 31
Executive Chef and Owner, Billabong Gastro Pub, Winnipeg
The former junior hockey player and Top Chef Season 1 chef has taken over this steady Aussie-themed spot, intent on putting some gastro into the pub with killer dishes like boeuf bourgounion pot pie and five-spice chicken ’n’ waffles.

Some things just immediately transport you to France: a field of lavender, an indifferent waiter and these amazing linens that are actually linen, courtesy of the multi-talented (baker, vigneron, tailor) Alishan Driediger.
Some things just immediately transport you to France: a field of lavender, an indifferent waiter and these amazing linens that are actually linen, courtesy of the multi-talented (baker, vigneron, tailor) Alishan Driediger.

Seann Dory, 35
Founder, Solefood Street Farms, Vancouver
Talking about social change is easy: actually doing it, not so much. So the Solefood tale—converting abandoned lots in Vancouver’s Eastside into farms and then getting residents to work together to tend and harvest the bounty—is just about the best food story we can think of.

Trevor Kallies, 33
Bar and Beverage Director,Donnelly Group, Vancouver
Making a handcrafted cocktail for a willing patron is a noble art. Taking that concept and expanding it to all the bars of Vancouver’s most successful string of drinking establishments—that’s the type of thing that changes how a city drinks.  A perfect Manhattan on every corner.

Jackie Ellis, 34
Owner/Baker, Beaucoup Bakery and Café, Vancouver
The opening of Ellis’s South Granville bakery was delayed and then delayed again. And again. The resulting wait created a near-unmeetable expectation upon opening. Which, with the help of her perfect croissants and other transformative pastries, Ellis has been able to exceed.

Shira Blustein, 31 & Brian Skinner, 33
Owners, The Acorn, Vancouver
A vegetarian restaurant for the non-vegetarian is a cold-fusionesque idea that gets bandied about every so often, but never lasts. Until now. The Acorn is not just surviving, but leading a group—see Heirloom and the Parker—that may just change how we eat when we go out for dinner.

Edward Dangerfield, 32, Eric Griffith, 33, & Nick Cassettari,  29
Owners/Executive Chef, Alta Bistro, Whistler
For years Whistler was where you went to eat good food at astronomical prices, and leave happy. Then these three rolled into town. They serve great food at reasonable prices—a typical $39 prix fixe menu might start with elk tartar and duck liver pâté, followed by a warm confit octopus and bacon salad and then some Lois Lake steelhead—which has left everyone wondering, “Why did it take so long for these guys to show up?” They’re serious about the things that matter and relaxed about those that don’t. Check out his recipe for Savoury Parsnip Bread & Butter Pudding here.

Savoury Parsnip, Bread, and Butter Pudding by Nick Cassettari, Alta Bistro
Savoury Parsnip, Bread, and Butter Pudding by Nick Cassettari, Alta Bistro

Blair Lebsack, 38
Chef, Rge Rd, Edmonton
He ran the kitchen at the esteemed Madison’s Grill, then taught at NAIT’s Culinary Arts program and, most recently, launched Rge Rd: a series of elegant farm dinners where what’s on your plate grew inches from the table or was harvested from nearby ranches and lakes. Now, after years of waiting, the mild-mannered Lebsack will open his first restaurant this summer. Let the line-ups begin.

Jeff Senger, 35 & Kevin Meier, 39
Owners, Sangudo Custom Meat Packers, Sangudo, Alberta
Three years ago, Senger left his accounting career and the gleaming towers of Calgary behind and moved, with wife Heather and four daughters, to Sangudo, Alberta (population 325). He and partner Meier bought the town’s failing abattoir and now they deliver custom cuts of ethically raised and organic meat to Edmonton’s best restaurants, reviving the town one steak at a time.

Marisa Goodwin, 35
Producer, Organic Fair, Cobble Hill, B.C.
It’s not often you run into back-to-the-land types with this much foodie cred, but Marisa and husband Kent evolved their respective backgrounds in clinical herbal medicine and aromatherapy into an inspired and sophisticated online food business.

Kristi Huber, 28 & Brett Huber, 36
Chef/Owners, Jack Keaton’s BBQ and Grill, Regina
Brett Huber has cooked in a lot of great rooms, from the secluded Poet’s Cove on Pender Island to London’s posh Boxwood Café, but it was the call of home that made him pair up with wife Kristi to give Regina its first “we spice-rub our brisket for 24 hours” authentic barbecue joint. Thank the lord for that.

Gustav Allander, 33 & Nadine Allander, 32
Winemakers, Foxtrot Vineyards, Naramata, B.C.
They trained on opposite sides of the globe (he in Sweden, she in New Zealand) but by the time they got together roughly in the middle—a prime vineyard on the Naramata Bench—they managed the impossible: to create an Okanagan pinot noir that conjures up the spirit of Volnay, and that many say is the best pinot in the country.

Canadian Pinot Noir by Foxtrot Vineyards

Ezra Cipes, 31
CEO, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna
Summerhill has always been different (what with that wacky pyramid and all) but under Ezra’s tenure it’s been different for all the right reasons—like putting out a beautifully balanced riesling that dared check in at 8.5 percent, or launching an $85 ultra-premium sparkling wine with 14 years of age. The future looks magical inside the pyramid.

James Iranzad, 37
Owner, Wildebeest/Abigail’s Party, Vancouver
Iranzad knows that the surest way to become an overnight sensation (his Wildebeest is the hottest table in town) is to spend the preceding eight years working your tail off (at Kitsilano’s solid Abigail’s Party) learning what diners want, and how they want it.

Trevor Bird, 30 & Curtis Luk , 30
Chefs/Owners, Fable, Vancouver
Participating in Top Chef Canada ensures that your new spot will have an initial bump in interest, but without the skills to back it up, you’re doomed. Thankfully these two Season 2 veterans have the chops to turn a 4th Avenue space that had bested previous attempts into a hopping, welcome addition to Kitsilano’s dining scene.

Cary Bowman, 38
Partner, LB Distillers, Saskatoon
What’s the point in owning a distillery if you’re not going to have any fun? Bowman, along with co-owners Lacey Crocker and Michael Goldney, appears to be having a blast blazing a trail in the craft distillery industry in SK. But the quality of their Gambit gin (which uses saskatoon berries as part of the mix) and Lucky Bastard vodka is no laughing matter—nor will their true Canadian whisky be, when it emerges from the casks in 2015.

Christine Sandford, 26, Heather Dosman, 25, Chris Tom-Kee, 27, Roger Letourneau, 24, & Andrew Hess, 27
Chefs, Staff Meal, Edmonton     
How do five chefs from Edmonton’s best restaurants spend their days off? Cooking for one another, of course. Lucky for us, they’ve turned those cooking sessions into one-night-only, thoughtfully themed Staff Meal dinners, complete with decor, entertainment and inventive five-course feasts not found on their restaurant menus. Edmontonians who are in the know snag a ticket to these sold-out dinners for an instant (and delicious) passport to far-off Iran, Spain or the eastern bloc.

Brayden Kozak, 30, Chuck Elves, 31, & Brian Welch, 30
Owners/Chefs, Three Boars Eatery, Edmonton
A lot of new restaurants open with hype. But these three bearded boars deftly transform humble mushrooms (with raw egg yolk on baguette) and off-cuts (confit lamb neck poutine) into delectable dishes worthy of the hype. Add the requisite chalkboard wall and industrial lighting, and this trendy, hipster-meets-farmhouse vibe is perfect for creative plates with crafty pints from its locally sourced, daily changing menu.

Emily Superkoski, 30 & Sean Superkoski, 31
Owners, Mighty Trio Organics, Redwater, Alberta       
If the Superkoskis have their way, you’ll picture Alberta’s expansive flax and golden canola fields in the same way you view the rolling hills of Tuscany. In a refurbished barn near Redwater, they cold-press certified organic, locally grown seeds into butters and oils for optimum nutrition. And Edmonton chefs love their distinctive flavours.

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Joel Arsenault, 33
Owner, The Jerky Baron, Vancouver
Arsenault simply wanted to make the best beef jerky in the world. From the Mayan-influenced Coba with Flemish red ale to the sel de Bretagne-influenced tartufo, the guy is knocking it out of the park.

Merissa Myles, 33 & Scott DiGuistini, 36
Owners, Tree Island Gourmet Yogurt, Courtenay, B.C.
Ever heard of a yogurt epiphany? It was while tasting yogurt in France that this couple took a career detour—she’s in marketing and he’s a microbiologist—and thank the stars they did. Using milk from grass-fed Ayrshire cows from a single farm in the Comox Valley, they’re making B.C.’s first artisanal yogurt. The yogurt is slow-cooked, meaning the dairy fat rises to leave a creamy top. No additives, no fillers. Just full-flavoured, probiotic goodness.

Chris Whittaker, 36
Chef, Forage, Vancouver
It seems like everyone is pulling on their wellies and heading into the hills to look for dinner these days, but Whittaker was deep into foraging years before it became au courant. His task for 2013 is to ride the wave of popularity to revive a moribund restaurant space on the wrong part of Robson. Here’s hoping he does it.

Steve Thorp, 32 & Mike Macquisten, 30
Founders, Vancouver Urban Winery/FreshTap/Roaring Twenties Wine Co., Vancouver
It was just last year that the buzz on wine on tap began, and now that murmur has become the biggest wine trend to hit the industry in years. What happened? These two, that’s what. Their Dunlevy Avenue HQ is ground zero for wineries wanting to get their product to the consumer, and for the consumer who wants to get a sampling of what’s going on in the Okanagan in one stop.

Ben Ernst, 34 & Erica Bernardi, 31
Owners, Earnest Ice Cream, Vancouver
With the ubiquitous Häagen-Dazs now creeping toward $8, is there any reason you wouldn’t spend a buck more and be rewarded with a glorious glass jar of whiskey hazelnut, R&B oatmeal stout or vegan coconut kefir lime handmade by these two? Let us answer for you: no, there’s not.

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London Fog Ice Cream from Earnest Ice Cream

Eleanor Chow Waterfall, 32 & Slavita Johnson, 34
Owners/Bakers, Cadeaux Bakery, Vancouver
Vancouver’s Gastown is great at ideas and hype, two things that are far less important than dedication and perseverance when it comes to the task of running a bakery. This pair has pulled off the rare task of creating a space that blends value, taste and a welcome lack of attitude.

Billy Friley, 29

Owner/Creator, Village Ice Cream, Calgary
Ice cream is the trend of the year (see below and opposite) and Friley’s 10 rotating flavours (including a coffee collaboration with last year’s honorees, Phil and Sebastian) have spawned a new trend: stay in for dinner and go out to Village Ice Cream for dessert.

David Gunawan, 32
Chef, Che Baba Cantina and Yoga Studio, Vancouver
What to make of Gunawan? He brought it at West, only to leave for Belgium. He popped up last year at Wildebeest—and if anything his skills were sharper—only to depart early this new year to join a food and yoga studio (Che Baba Cantina). It’s never boring with him, but if there’s a chef who can convince you to eat in proximity to a pilates class, it’s him.

Adam Chandler, 32
Owner, Beta 5 Chocolates, Vancouver
It’s all been done before with chocolate, which is true right up to when it isn’t. That moment comes often for Beta 5, from their hot chocolate on a stick to their award-winning marmalades crafted from Rangpur limes.

Owen Lightly, 30 & Naomi Horii, 34
Owners, Butter on the Endive, Vancouver
Maybe it’s easier to list those who aren’t food bloggers in 2013. But there’s a huge difference between posting your poached halibut with the tagline “yum, yum, yum,” and bringing the insight and expertise of a professional chef to the discipline. The latter is the sweet spot that Lightly hits with his blog, Butter on the Endive, now in its sixth year, paired with a catering business—with partner Horii—that’s nailing the pop-up ethos of the last year.

Amy Bronee, 35
Food Blogger, Family Feedbag, Victoria
Leave the sous vide to the chefs: what people want are simple, creative dishes to serve quickly. Enter Amy. In addition to raising a family, this young mom cooks straightforward recipes for home cooks that have garnered her five blogger awards (including one from Jamie Oliver), on top of teaching hands-on cooking classes for children and adults. Check out Amy Bronee’s recipe for Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken with Potatoes (pictured below) here.

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Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken with Potatoes by Amy Bronee, Family Feedbag

Alishan Driediger, 38
Owner, Little Farm Winery, Cawston, B.C.
Along with partner Rhys Pender (40 Foodies 2010), Driediger, who founded the amazing Okanagan Grocery in 2004, is betting that just-out-of-the-way Cawston will become the next great Canadian wine region. If their inaugural riesling and chardonnay are any examples, it might be wise to buy a few acres there now.

Matt Horn, 31
Chef/Owner, Cowichan Pasta Company, Cowichan Bay, B.C.
What is it about Cowichan Bay that causes normally level-headed folk (and last year’s honoree, salt guru Andrew Shepherd) to forgo the 9 to 5 grind and follow their inner foodie? Who cares, so long as it results in one-of-a-kind foraged joys like stinging nettle rotini and wakame spaghetti.

Kyle Matheson, 29 & Marc Priestly, 28
Owners, UnBurger, Winnipeg
This pair came up with the idea of crafting burgers from locally sourced, naturally raised meat that never sees the cruel inside of a freezer, then pairing them with out-of-the-box ingredients like pineapple, beets, eggs, double-smoked bacon and Bothwell cheddar (that’s the “Drunken Aussie”).

Christie Peters, 29 & Kyle Michael, 28
Owners/Chefs, The Hollows, Saskatoon
Ensconced in the classic old Golden Dragon building, these two young chefs blend the best of their training (in San Francisco, Amsterdam and Spain) with the best of wild SK: dandelion fritters, cured trout benedict and, of course, pan-fried pickerel—creating a place that says home.

Genevieve  Mateyko, 24
Owner, Sunday Morning Ice Cream, Vancouver
A rare example of truth in advertising: Mateyko’s enterprise (i.e., her and her bike) shows up at your door every Sunday morning and presents its lucky subscribers with a different handcrafted ice cream (such as the awesome bourbon and cornflakes) each week. Now that’s worthy of some seventh-day reverence.

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