Announcing Our 2018 Foodies of the Year Finalists!
Meet the 40 finalists on our 11th annual Foodies of the Year shortlist.
No matter how many chefs or farmers or inventors or bartenders we interview for Foodies of the Year, it’s clear no one gets into this industry solely for the money, because surely there are easier ways (with fewer late nights, financial gambles and burn marks from the grill).
What it all comes down to is an unstoppable passion for food. Not everyone gets credit for the tireless work and effort that goes into making the West one of the most delicious places to live, and that is why, once again, it is our distinct pleasure to highlight those star foodies as our 40 finalists for this year’s Foodies of the Year. We tip our hats to you, foodies—congrats!
Our top 10 FOTY winners will be announced Tuesday, June 19 at the Loft at Earls Yaletown (and for the first time ever we’re inviting you to join us! Get your tickets here—you’ll save $10 if you purchase them before May 30). They’ll also be featured in Western Living’s July/August issue—keep an eye on our social media (Twitter, Instagram) for updates.
Meet Our 2018 FOTY Finalists:
- Lauren Anh and Douglas Gregory (Pastry Chef, Baker and Owners, Mari Bakeshop, Calgary) This couple left the sunshine of California (and dream jobs at Napa’s French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery) to open a small-town community bakery in Calgary’s East Village (that just happens to make the best bread in the city).
- Malorie Aube (Farmer and Owner, Country Accent Heritage Breeds, Bawlf, A.B.) She’s the farmer responsible for resurrecting the Mangalitsa pig—some call this little-known breed of Hungarian pigs the Kobe beef of pork—by breeding it for its dark red marbled meat and introducing it to the Alberta market.
- Will Bergmann, Sean Bernard and Luke Joyal (Owners, The Oxbow, Manitoba) What do you get when the owner of Bergmann Farms and the co-owners of The Roost cocktail lounge join forces? A locally inspired restaurant with a killer cocktail program and an extensive natural wine list, that’s what.
- Elizabeth Blau (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Blau and Associates, Vancouver/Los Angeles) This international foodie magnate and CEO shook up the city’s dining scene in 2017 with the nearly simultaneous opening of no less than eight restaurants and lounges at the new casino, Parq Vancouver. The introduction of Honey Salt, MRKT East, BC Kitchen, D/6 Bar and Lounge and more had a huge impact on not just the makeup of local restaurants, but top talent drawn to the colossal new Parq.
- Steven Brochu, Darren Cheverie and Sylvia Cheverie (Chef and Owners, Chartier, Beaumont, A.B.) The Cheveries opened a rustic Québécois-style restaurant in their rural Alberta town with the help of Kickstarter; Chef Brochu brings French-Canadian elegance to the diners who now flock there.
- Bill Broddy and Tyson Still (Founders, WineCrush, Penticton, B.C.) WineCrush might just be the missing link to the Okanagan’s ecosystem. The operation takes leftover skins and seeds from wine tanks and infuses those nutrients and antioxidants into meats, cheeses and crackers (think Cabernet Salami, Gamay Goat Cheese and Malbec and Herb Sea Salt). They won best concept at the 2017 Small Business B.C. Awards and in the spring pitched the business to CBC’s Dragon’s Den.
- Susannah Ruth Bryan and Robert Dean Smith (Bakers and Owners, Ruth and Dean, Victoria) These Victoria-based bakers for the Instagram age create stunning works of art that double as cakes—and have finally launched a wholesale side, so that Ruth and Dean baked goods are even more accessible around the city.
- Michael Buffet (Chef and Founder, Start Fresh Kitchen, Kelowna, B.C.) Michael Buffet hosts dinners, workshops and demonstrations out of his collaborative kitchen—and provides free weekly cooking classes to at-risk members of the community (with a dash of employment and life-skills education on the side).
- Joseph Chaeban and Zainab Ali (Owners, Chaeban Ice Cream, Winnipeg) This couple’s Lebanese-style ice cream (think pistachios and cashews surrounded by rose water; orange blossom water with ricotta, vanilla and rare orchid flower powder) inspires lineups ’round the block—even when the temperature hits -30°C.
- Doug Chang (Owner, Ai and Om Knives, Vancouver) Even if Japanese knives weren’t having a moment, what Doug Chang (also the former chef of Bambudda and Sai Woo) is doing in his dedicated knife store is a thing of beauty. His curated selection of blades crafted by Japanese blacksmiths is a boon to the region’s top chefs, but so is Chang’s wealth of knowledge. With his expert knife-sharpening training and skill workshops he’s started to share his passion with the masses.
- Alex Chen (Executive Chef, Boulevard Kitchen and Oyster Bar, Vancouver) This seafood-loving chef has had a big year. With precision and finesse, he won top honours at the Canadian Culinary Champions—and was named Chef of the Year in Vancouver magazine’s 29th annual Restaurant Awards.
- Isabel Chung (Executive Chef, Grill Room at Fairmont Chateau, Whistler) The executive chef of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s Grill Room (and the only female chef in the Fairmont chain) took a little-spoken-of restaurant and turned it into the top spot in Whistler, upsetting a long winning streak by Araxi at the latest Vancouver magazine restaurant awards.
- Christine Coletta (Owner, Okanagan Crush Pad, Kelowna, B.C.) She founded Okanagan Crush Pad, started her own wines—Haywire and then Narrative—and then built a dream team that would radically move the Okanagan wine conversation forward on everything from concrete eggs to natural wine. Now, with the recent purchase of the 50-acre Seacrest Mountain Vineyard, we can’t wait to see what’s next.
- Jason Cox (Owner, The People’s Crafthouse, Penticton, B.C.) Beer and cider is nothing new—but Jason Cox brings a different kind of craft beverage to B.C. Using fresh ingredients and flavours (sarsaparilla, vanilla bean), his “fizzery” is taking soda back to its natural roots.
- Thomas Dahlgren, Eric Hendry and Will Trow (Owners and Chef, Bar Von Der Fels, Calgary) The trio opened their tiny wine bar last fall (Eric Hendry is also the head chef) and made it onto EnRoute’s Best New Restaurants list with just 20 seats and a shoestring budget (plus a smart small-plates menu and stellar wine list).
- Tyler Day and Dan Olson (Owners and Chefs, Railtown Café, Vancouver) How’s the catering business? Booming for chefs Dan Olson and Tyler Day, who, after taking over Railtown Café in 2012 went on to aggressively tackle the Vancouver lunch market with the opening of three bricks-and-mortar locations in the span of seven months.
- Toni Desrosiers (Nutritionist/Inventor, Abeego, Victoria) She’s a Victoria-based nutritionist who, in 2008, launched a breathable, reusable beeswax-based food wrap designed to help preserve fresh food and reduce food and plastic waste—you’re welcome, planet! In the past year, she also took her business on CBC’s Dragon’s Den—get ready to see her products everywhere.
- Leslie Echino (Owner and Winemaker, Bar Annabelle and Blink, Calgary) As both a winemaker and a wine bar owner, Echino is at the centre of Calgary’s industry buzz—and has managed to make vertical integration look cool.
- Aren Fieldwalker and Phoebe Glasfurd (Founders, Glasfurd and Walker, Vancouver) Name a restaurant that opened in the last five years: Bao Bei, Botanist, Kissa Tanto, St. Lawrence, Savio Volpe, Mak N Ming…every one of them relied on Glasfurd and Walker’s visionary and holistic approach to branding, from menu and signage design to cutlery and servingware—the duo has essentially created the look of Vancouver’s dining scene.
- Bonnie Friesen and Josh Vanderheide (Chef and Brewer, Owners, Field House Brewing, Abbotsford, B.C.) The brewery owner (Vanderheide) and Red Seal chef (Friesen) are reshaping the local food culture in the Fraser Valley via Field House Brewing—their restaurant and microbrewery in Abbotsford—and Field House Farms, a collective to bring farm produce to more restaurants.
- Kunal Ghose (Chef and Owner, Fishhook, Fishhook at Mermaid Wharf and Dobosala Cantina and Ride Thru, Victoria) The Top 40 Foodies Under 40 alum behind some of Victoria’s best-loved eateries is back on this list for his efforts around sustainability, and for capitalizing on the city’s new protected bike lanes; his just-opened Dobosala Cantina and Ride Thru includes a takeout window catered to cyclists and pedestrians.
- Julie Gryba, Caitlin Olauson and Bailey Wilmot (Founders, The Local Kitchen, Saskatoon) The three Saskatchewan entrepreneurs created this part-clubhouse, part-laboratory space that’s forwarding the co-cooking movement. They have a co-op kitchen to help launch or grow food-based businesses—plus Local Kitchen runs themed cooking classes with top local chefs.
- Andrew Harris, Andres Palma and Richard Sehmer (CEO, Brewmaster, Managing Director, Craft Collective Brewing, Vancouver) The unsung heroes of the craft-beer scene, Craft Collective Brewing acts as a one-stop fixer for local breweries (Postmark, Doan’s and Faculty, to name a few), offering extra space and equipment for beermaking, canning and lab services.
- Adam Henderson and Matt Kohlen (Owners, Superflux Beer, Vancouver) If you happen to spot Superflux’s super-cool and colourful labels on the shelf, snatch them up quick. With no permanent facility to call home, this duo is brewing the city’s most elusive beer.
- Lourdes Juan (Founder, Leftovers Foundation, Calgary) We know the devastating stats: half of the food produced worldwide is wasted. Lourdes Juan launched Leftovers in Calgary to divert food from the waste stream—creating nearly 140,000 meals in the process.
- Kevin Kossowan (Writer/Filmmaker, From the Wild series, Edmonton) The financial planner-turned-filmmaker has put Edmonton’s (and Canada’s) food scene on the map with his James Beard 2018-nominated From the Wild cookery web series that sees chefs (like Calgary’s Connie DeSousa, the Okanagan’s Aman Dosanj) cook up in-situ feasts from food they’ve hunted and gathered themselves.
- Jinhee Lee (Executive Chef, Foreign Concept, Calgary) It’s hard to argue with this young and talented chef’s back-to-back gold wins at Gold Medal Plates in 2016 and 2017, who might have only missed 2018 because she was cleaning up back East on Top Chef Canada.
- Silvio Lettrari (Creator, Kaslo Sourdough, Pasta Fermentata, Kaslo, B.C.) Silvio Lettrari has been baking bread in the small town of Kaslo (population: 968) for more than 25 years and has created the world’s first sourdough pasta. And earlier this year, he received government funding to research the health benefits of the novel pasta.
- Giulio Piccioli (Director, One Big Table, Kelowna, B.C.) Giulio Piccioli heads this innovative co-op grocery store. One Big Table stocks only locally sourced goods—seasonal veggies, free-range meats and artisanal breads—and embraces a farm-to-table ethos in its catering division, too.
- JC Poirier (Chef and Owner, St. Lawrence and more, Vancouver) Can rich, down-home Québécois cooking work in the kale-smoothie loving Vancouver? Indeed. Chef JC Poirier proved that this city was craving what he was serving, with his ode-to-his childhood St. Lawrence restaurant going gangbusters from day one (and, natch, nabbing Restaurant of the Year at the 2018 Vancouver magazine Restaurant Awards).
- Caitlin Quinn (Master Distiller, Eau Clair Distillery, Turner Valley, A.B.) This Scottish-raised, Winnipeg-born 25-year-old went from her Masters of Chemistry straight on to a job as master distiller at a farm-to-glass craft distillery, where she’s been winning global awards for Eau Claire (World Spirits Competition, SIP awards) and even opened the very first barrel of single malt whisky in Alberta.
- Pénélope and Dylan Roche (Winemakers, Roche Wines, Penticton, B.C.) The Roches get a little sparkly eyed when they’re talking about terroir—no surprise, given that Pénélope comes from five generations of vintners and Dylan honed his craft through years of work in Burgundy, Bordeaux and beyond.
- Christine Sandford (Chef, Beira, Edmonton) When’s the last time you heard someone get excited about a brewpub? But you would be too if you got a glimpse of what’s going on at Beira, where chef Christine Sandford is remodelling the whole genre with her elevated parings of local craft brew (which comes from the tanks next door, no less) and farm-to-table cuisine.
- John and Cindy Schneider (Farmers, Gold Forest Grains, Edmonton) Not only is John Schneider a sixth-generation farmer, but the duo’s small operation is going against the grain in central Alberta by growing certified organic heirloom and ancient wheat and grains, which despite organic-everything’s popularity is not the norm.
- Ben Staley (Chef and Co-Owner, Alder Room, Edmonton) There’s something that’s totally awesome about a chef who is so ambitious that they’ll dive head-first into an experimental spot like Alta (an 11-item menu of raw, preserved or pre-cooked food served cold or at room temp, chefs delivering dishes, no tipping allowed) and not skip a beat between its short, fiery demise and picking up an EnRoute Best Restaurant award for its surviving sister restaurant, Alder Room. And Staley’s only 25.
- Lance Staples (Forager, Victoria) If you’re a chef who needs wild mushrooms, sheep sorrel, spruce tips or anything else that can be plucked from B.C.’s natural bounty, Staples is your man.
- Doug Stephen (Chef and Owner, Merchants Workshop, Vancouver) This industry fave (you’ll spot foragers, farmers and local chefs sitting at his bar) is pulling in the critical accolades too—winning Best Eastside Restaurant at the 2018 Vancouver magazine Restaurant Awards. Watch for his next venture into Nashville Hot Chicken: The DL Chicken Shack.
- Kaitlyn Stewart (Bar Manager, Royal Dinette, Vancouver) Kaitlyn Stewart is the first Canadian to ever win Diageo’s World Class Bartender of the Year competition. When she’s not busy representing Vancouver on a global scale, you can find her slinging locavore-inspired drinks behind the pine at the farm-to-table restaurant she calls home.
- Bret Walter (Founder, Granary Road, Calgary) The creator of the Foothills-area Granary Road brings both a new gourmet foodie destination to Calgary—think Québécois cheeses alongside loose-leaf tea artisans and yes, mini-donuts—and an active learning park for the kids, providing immersive education in agriculture: rope climbs and fire poles alongside working chicken coops and crop circles.
- Rebecca Wellman (Photographer, Author, First We Brunch, Victoria) Food photographer and now author, Rebecca Wellman released last fall/winter’s First We Brunch, an exhaustive, well-executed look at the capital region’s best places to brunch. It’s the definitive book on breakfast in Victoria, with standout recipes and local profiles, with accompanying photography by Wellman.
Join us in celebrating our Foodies of the Year!
Tuesday, June 19 (6:30 to 9 p.m.)
The Loft at Earls Yaletown
1095 Mainland Street, Vancouver
Tickets available here