These restaurateurs, chefs, winemakers, bartenders, producers and activists have rocked local palates in their own communities€”and changed the way we eat across the West … one delicious plate, glass, taste at a time.

Foodie of the Year

James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, Authors The 100-Mile Diet A Year of Local Eating. Born 1970, Sheffield, England and 1971, Pinawa, Manitoba. Essential Ingredient: Wheat. “We really missed it, until we found a local farmer. Flour is essential!” For a year they lived only on foods that had been harvested, foraged, raised or caught within a 100-mile radius of their home while they documented their trials, stresses and successes. The international 100-Mile Diet phenomenon not only inspired a TV show (debuting in spring 2009), it also encouraged a generation of young chefs to foster relationships with local farmers and suppliers. But more importantly, by showcasing what our region produces, MacKinnon and Smith reminded all of us of the countless food possibilities on our doorsteps.—,

Chef of the Year

Melissa Craig, Executive Chef, Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler. Born 1979, Chilliwack, BC. Memorable meal: Rabbit brains and sea anemone at El Bulli in Spain. Crowned the country’s top chef at the 2008 Canadian Culinary Championships, she beat the big boys to become a role model for young cooks and female chefs. Her girlhood dreams on Vancouver Island of becoming a teacher soon gave way to a passion for cooking that took her all over the world doing kitchen stages. In 2004, after apprenticing at Vancouver Island’s Sooke Harbour House under chef Edward Tuson, she landed at the famed and flamboyant Whistler restaurant that now houses her quietly intense talent.—a.m.Bearfoot Bistro, 4121 Village Green, Whistler, 604-932-3433,

Restaurateurs of the Year (tie)

Ryan Rivard, Proprietor, The Bison, Banff. Born 1971, Simcoe, Ontario. Cutting edge: Wusthof Culinaire knives. gadget Tongs.When Rivard came West for a summer stint at Banff’s Magpie and Stump in 1992, little did he realize the resort would become his home. Now, 16 years later, married and with one of Banff’s brightest new eateries under his control, this trained chef (a veteran of Calgary’s Mortal Coil) not only champions local ingredients and Rocky Mountain comfort food on the bistro side, his five years of experience with Calgary cheesemonger Janice Beaton informs the general store side of the Bison. Oh, and Rivard says that on a good day, he could still keep up with the frantic kitchen line at the Stump.—j.g.The Bison, 211 Bear St., Banff, 403-762-5550,

Restaurateurs of the Year (tie)

Janis Cousyn and Remi Cousyn, Owners, Calories and Souleio Foods, Saskatoon. Born 1969, North Battleford, Saskatchewan and 1969, Loreint, France. Off-duty nosh: Nhatrang (#102-216 33rd St. W., Saskatoon, 306-343-1017).They’ve been in constant motion since they met on a train in Europe, Janis then a dancer for the Winnipeg Ballet and Remi a chef from the south of France. In 1995 they bought a Saskatoon bakery-café, introducing local diners to prix fixe meals, fresh seafood and international delights like beef tenderloin with garlic-rosemary duck frites and béarnaise sauce. They continue to innovate with the planned 2009 launch of Souleio, a downtown bakery and store (with many specialties sourced through Pine View Farms in Osler, Saskatchewan). One thing they didn’t change the heavily laden pastry case at Calories, where you can still handpick the perfect dessert after a satisfying meal.—j.p.Calories, 721 Broadway Ave., Saskatoon,  306-665-7991,

Bartender of the Year

Graham Warner, Bar Manager, Raw Bar at Hotel Arts, Calgary. Born 1980, Grande Prairie, Alberta. Bar None: London Academy of Bartenders (LAB), the training bar for many of the city’s best mixologists.The irony of having grown up in a dry town (the Mormon-heavy burg of Cardston, Alberta) is not lost on Warner. Although he has never served a drink in his hometown, he has competed globally in flare bartending, finishing as high as fifth in the world. He’s driven to mix; he lived out of suitcase for two years while travelling and working in bars to learn the trade. Now he pours at one of Calgary’s hottest spots, mixing everything from classic Manhattans to his own savoury and modern creations.—j.g.Raw Bar, 119 12th Ave. SW, Calgary, 800-661-9378,

Winemaker of the Year

Heidi Noble, Winemaker, Joie Wines, Naramata, BC, and author of Menus from an Orchard Table (Whitecap). Born 1974, Toronto. Quick nosh: Organic bratwurst from Dietz sausage truck, Backyard Beans coffee and fresh fruit galette from Joy Road Catering, Penticton farmers’ market.This culinary polymath graduated from Ontario’s prestigious Stratford Chefs School, has worked at prestigious Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver restaurants, and, for good measure, completed the International Sommelier Guild program in Vancouver. Today, she is a self-taught winemaker and proprietor, with husband Michael Dinn, of a winery that has taken the world by storm. Joie’s “A Noble Blend” was wine of the year at the 2007 Canadian Wine Awards and, along with their chardonnay and rosé, has been winning medals at the Northwest Wine Summit, All Canadian Wine Championships and beyond.—a.m.Joie Wines, 2825 Naramata Rd., Naramata, BC, 866-422-5643,

Sommelier of the Year

Sebastien Le Goff, Sommelier and Operations Manager at Uva and Cibo, Vancouver. Born 1973, Nantes, France. Off-duty hangout: Nuba (1206 Seymour St., Vancouver, 778-371-3266).Le Goff is a details man, an impeccably dressed and calm-under-pressure star who has run the show at such top Vancouver restaurants as CinCin and Lumière. Known for his exacting eye, his encyclopedic knowledge of wine and his demanding expectations from staff, he continues to elevate the industry’s service standards with unflappable poise at Uva Wine Bar and Cibo Trattoria, new establishments in downtown Vancouver’s newly boutiqued Moda Hotel.—a.m.Uva Wine Bar and Cibo Trattoria, Moda Hotel, 900 Seymour St., Vancouver, 604-632-9560,

Producer of the Year

Ofri Barmor, Cheesemaker, Carmelis Goat Cheese, Kelowna. Born 1970, near Haifa, Israel. Off-duty hangout: On a boat on Lake Okanagan.“Do one thing—and do it great” could be Ofri Barmor’s motto. Since relocating from Israel in 2003, she and husband Ofer have made it their goal to produce great goat cheese. There have been more than a few roadblocks (their shop and dairy burned down in the summer fires in their first year), but thanks to them the Okanagan is now a goat cheese nirvana. Carmelis offers 16 to 20 varieties (we love the creamy labane, topped with za’atar, served as a dip) and 24 creamy goat milk gelatos. Soon the cheese will be available in other Western centres, so we can all see the results of single-minded devotion.—n.m.Carmelis Goat Cheese, 170 Timberline Rd., Kelowna, 250-870-3117,

Top 40 Foodies

Katrina Watson, Cassandra Watson and Becky Watson, Proprietors, Fresh Café, Winnipeg. Born 1979, 1976 and 1980 in Pine Falls, Manitoba. Division of labour: Cassandra manages; Becky’s the head server and gardener; Katrina the juice-bar guru.The Watson sisters were making jam from backyard-picked raspberries and sausages from meat their father hunted long before the culinary buzzword changed from “global” to “local.” With parents who “never gave us anything out of a can or box,” Becky recalls sneaking to the neighbours’ place for Cap’n Crunch. With their healthy, near-gourmet breakfast and lunch place (opened in 2007, after the three acquired a combined 48 years of restaurant experience) the sisters have changed the way local diners think about food and the way other local restaurateurs operate. Cassandra says, “We had a top restaurant email us and say ‘I want to compost. You make it look so easy.’”—k.b.Fresh Café, 775 Corydon Ave., Winnipeg, 204-221-5775, Smith and Dana Ewart, Chefs and Owners, Joy Road Catering, Penticton. Born 1975, Toronto and 1977, Kingston, Ontario. Culinary hero: Alice Waters.Before the term grassroots was co-opted by politicians, it described folks like Cam Smith and Dana Ewart—people who got to know a subject by getting elbow-deep into it. For this couple, it meant leaving their high-profile culinary posts (at restaurants like Montreal’s Toqué! and Toronto’s Jamie Kennedy and Scaramouche) to get back to the land, the Okanagan Valley. They know the dirt in which their ingredients are grown, the farmer who grows them, the consumer who buys from them at Penticton’s market and the diner who attends their inspired summer dinners at God’s Mountain B&B—served outdoors, often on the grass, naturally.—n.m.Joy Road Catering, Penticton, 250-493-8657, Caracciolo, Partner, Mercato, Calgary. Born 1970, Calgary. Off-duty nosh: Blackfoot Truck Stop Restaurant (1840 9th Ave. SE, Calgary, 403-265-5964). Culinary epiphany: Walking into the original Balducci’s in New York’s Greenwich Village.Born into the Italian market business, Caracciolo has been slicing capicollo and unloading cases of wine grapes since he was seven. He and parents Cathy and Victor broke with tradition when they closed the Italian Centre and moved from Calgary’s Little Italy to open Mercato in 2005. Now ensconced in the tiny Mission district of Calgary, Dominic carries on the family tradition of fine Italian food and hospitality at this dynamic trattoria and gourmet food store.—j.g.Mercato, 2224 4th St. SW, Calgary, 403-263-5535, Thomas Dolbee, Executive Chef, Four Seasons Resort Whistler. Born 1970, Inglewood, California. Next big thing: Umami.Even with a name like Dolbee, our guy isn’t out to blind anyone with the science of molecular gastronomy. Instead, fresh off the plane from Southern California, he immersed himself in Whistler tradition—not mountain bikes and microbrews but indigenous culture. Collaborating with First Nations chief Andrew George, Dolbee created a menu of innovative cultural cuisine for the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (bannock with smoked salmon and lemon crème) and kindled the newest old food trend in the West.—N.M.Four Seasons Resort Whistler, 4591 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, 604-935-3400, and Sylvia Kreutzer. Agri-tourism Entrepreneurs, Over the Hill Orchards, Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan. Born 1968, Regina and 1971, Spiritwood, Saskatchewan. Guilty nosh: Subway, Cocoa Camino dark chocolate bars or Doritos.Dean and Sylvia Kreutzer aren’t just bringing organic cherry trees to wheat country, they’re bringing a vision of a Napa-style culinary destination. Theirs is an “if you build it” story: no bank would provide a loan but, after Dean took horticulture classes at University of Saskatchewan, they planted cherry trees anyway. Their signature Prairie Cherry Chocolates exploded on the market in 2004, followed by an organic café and retail outlet in nearby Lumsden a year later. Drop in for coffee and organic fruit pie and carry away boxes of chocolates, cherry spreads and cherry juice. Success… how sweet it is.—j.p.Over the Hill Orchards, 306-530-9133, Cubelic, Co-Owner Silk Road Tea, Victoria. Born 1969, Zagreb, Croatia. Culinary epiphany: “When I made the analogy between tea and wine; tea is just as interesting and nuanced.”Look out, Red Rose. By turning a hobby into a unique shop, tasting bar and spa, Cubelic has helped changed the way the West sees tea. After 10 years of intensive training with Chinese and Taiwanese tea masters and herbalists, she achieved tea master status in 1995 and opened Silk Road Tea in Victoria’s revitalized Chinatown with business partner and fellow tea master Nancy Larose. Along with sourcing the world’s finest organic, rare, single-estate and exotic teas, Cubelic educates consumers through tea tastings and talking up tea’s health benefits and its terroir. An enthusiastic foodie, she makes tea even more exciting by stocking the latest in gorgeous serving pieces and prep gadgets and creating recipes for tea popsicles, ice creams and cocktails.—s.s.Silk Road Tea, 1624 Government St., Victoria, 250-704-2688, Zenimaru, Executive Chef, Kinygo Izakaya, Vancouver. Born 1977, Osaka, Japan. Off-duty nosh: Vietnamese pho.This innovative young Japanese chef is introducing a new culinary vernacular to Vancouverites that is spreading its influence across the West. His award-winning open kitchen at Kingyo Izakaya (an izakaya is a casual, sushi-free style of Japanese restaurant) serves small dishes that ring of whimsy and taste of invention and is one of the most thrilling in town. Along with some of the best chefs in the province, he has been chosen to compete for the chance to represent BC at the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2009.—a.m.Kingyo Izakaya, 871 Denman St., Vancouver, 604-608-1677.Jennifer Cockrall-King, Author, and The Edible Prairie Journal. Born 1971 in Edmonton. Off-duty hangout: Da.De.O (10548a Whyte Ave., Edmonton, 780-433-0930, started as an archive for the extensive food and travel writing of this Edmonton “foodgirl” turned into one of the West’s early go-to online foodie destinations and a magazine she publishes three times a year (with Terry Juzak), The Edible Prairie Journal. Today she divides her pursuits between Edmonton and Naramata in the Okanagan Valley, indulging her passion for promoting the unique indigenous food culture of our region.—, Cortez, Butcher and Owner, Sebastian & Co. Fine Organic Meats, West Vancouver. Born 1975, Viña del Mar, Chile. Off-duty hangout: Vij’s (1480 W. 11th Ave., Vancouver, 604-736-6664).Word of mouth rules the tony community of West Vancouver and when this organic butcher shop opened in 2007 on the Dundarave strip, word spread like wildfire. From house-made pancetta, proscuitto and juicy sausages to sauces, mustards and flavoured oils, his operation is a meat-eater’s dream come true. With attentive service and evident passion for his craft (one that is now largely lost to the big supermarkets), Cortez has endeared himself to the local community and beyond through the healthy pleasures of ethical, organic meats.—a.m.Sebastian & Co. Fine Organic Meats, 2425 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-925-1636, Meens, Chef and Owner, Mo:Lé and Café Bliss, Victoria. Born 1978, Victoria. Protein of choice: Hemp hearts.At various times a runway model in Thailand, an independent hip-hop videographer and a “highly skilled dishwasher,” Meens now runs a hip downtown Victoria eatery and adjacent juice bar that have garnered a devoted following for hearty and healthy meals—including weekend menus of raw food, “the most cutting-edge cuisine at the moment,” he declares. His approach has earned him a place at raw food festivals in the U.S. and a role cooking for the Canadian Olympic Triathlete team this past summer in Beijing. He’s making the world healthier, one delicious plate at a time.—s.s.Mo:Lé, 554 Pandora Ave., Victoria, 250-385-6653, Kotelko, President, Spring Creek Ranch Premium Beef. Born 1983, Edmonton. Culinary epiphany: Truffled popcorn at Muse (107 10a St. NW, Calgary, 403-670-6873, the tutelage of her father (third-generation cattleman and owner of Highland Feeders, Bern Kotelko) and armed with a degree in food business management, this poster girl for Alberta beef is changing the way we buy meat. That means changing the way beef is produced—from a commodity-based system to a 100 percent birth-to-plate traceable product, one that’s properly aged, chosen for flavour and raised sustainably to boot. Eventually, she’d like to put the upscale Spring Creek brand not only in high-end restaurants but into more and more neighbourhood supermarkets. And by the way, she prefers her own top sirloin medium rare.— Foodies15Rob Belcham and Tom Doughty, Proprietors, Fuel Restaurant and the Cure, Vancouver. Born 1973, Edmonton and 1975, Calgary. Secret ambition: Doughty “wouldn’t mind” playing pro basketball.These two not only helped revitalize the restaurant scene in Vancouver’s formerly granola-saturated Kitsilano neighbourhood, they are leading a new generation of restaurateurs by demonstrating that sustainable, local sourcing and business success are not mutually exclusive. They are local hotshots with serious international cred: chef Belcham did a stint at Thomas Keller’s famed French Laundry in Napa; Doughty was named sommelier of the year at the 2005 Vancouver International Wine Festival. He’s also a winemaker, bottling merlot and chardonnay under his BC-based Montagu Cellars label.—a.m.Fuel, 1944 W. 4th Ave., Vancouver, 604-288-7905, Pohorelic, Executive Chef, River Café, Calgary. Born 1969, Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Off-duty hangout: Diner Deluxe (804 Edmonton Tr. NE, Calgary, 403-276-5499).As a young chef, Pohorelic tasted a locally grown, organic carrot fresh from the field at Highwood Crossing Farm and realized he’d forgotten how carrots were supposed to taste. Now as steward of the stoves at River Café—Calgary’s original fresh, seasonal kitchen—the formerdishwasher brings those flavours back to the table with the skill and sincerity befitting the simple products with which he works.—j.g.River Café, Prince’s Island Park, Calgary, 403-261-7670, Gair, Executive Chef and Co-Owner (with husband Mike Western), the Trough Dining Co., Canmore. Born 1974, Northumberland, England. Memorable meals: Chicago’s Alinea, Moto and Hot Doug’s (“the greatest gourmet sausage ever!”).Rosie Gair has helped transform Canmore into a foodie destination for visitors (from Banff and Calgary and beyond) craving some of Alberta’s most passionate cooking. The Trough encapsulates all that is great in Canmore right now: locally sourced ingredients, inventive preparations and, as the name makes clear, an utter lack of pretension about it all.—n.m.The Trough, 725 Walk of Champions (9 St.), Canmore, 403-678-2820, Wolowidnyk, Bar Manager, West, Vancouver. Born 1971, Ridgecrest, California. Claim to fame: Says he makes the best paella in town.Vancouver magazine’s bartender of the year in 2008 and the reigning Grey Goose National Pour Master champion. From his spot behind the bar at top Vancouver restaurant West, Wolowidnyk has been instrumental in transforming our regional cocktail scene from rye and Cokes to highly sippable and inventive concoctions like the Four O’Clock (recipe at He charms and chats up guests like an old-school barkeep should, combining his vast, chef-like knowledge and huge array of fresh ingredients with a graceful ease that few can match. Let him surprise you.—a.m.West, 2881 Granville St., Vancouver, 604-738-8938, Pender, Wine Educator, Okanagan Valley. Born 1975, Canberra, Australia. Off-duty nosh: Classic village loaf from the Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads (2355 Gordon Dr., Kelowna, 250-717-6813, a trained chef (Vancouver’s Star Anise), Pender earned his wine stripes through a diploma from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and by working for many Okanagan wineries. He is now striving to ascend to the Master of Wine designation, a mountain only three other Canadians (including BC’s Barbara Philip) have successfully scaled. His company, Wine Plus+, trains industry veterans and neophytes in all matters wine and shepherds new wineries towards responsible growing, making and distribution methods—the ways of the future.— Fata, President and Co-Founder, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, Winnipeg. Born 1976, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Off-duty nosh: Miso soup at Dandelion Eatery (230 Osborne St., Winnipeg, 204-453-5755).A dozen years ago, Mike Fata was seriously overweight. He lost more than 100 pounds on a low-fat diet that compromised his health—but, in studying up on nutrition, came across a great source for essential fatty acids and Omega 3 and 6: hemp. Ten years ago he and his partners created a new industry, growing hemp seeds on Manitoba farms (and, in the process, aiding the re-legalization of hemp growing). Their hemp oil, milk and butter are premium fuel for the body and the world’s engine is purring: Manitoba Harvest has been on Profit 100’s fastest-growing companies list three times, putting hemp on the health-food map.— Hawksworth, Owner/Chef Hawksworth (opening Vancouver, 2009). Born 1970, Vancouver. Kitchen dinner: “We invite other chefs as guests and each prepares a course and brings a wine to match. Yes, it can get competitive.”Few other chefs in Canada have risen in international esteem as quickly as this culinary school-skipper (“I didn’t have the money!”). He trained in his hometown at Le Crocodile before a lengthy stint at top-drawer restaurants in the U.K. During seven years at Vancouver’s acclaimed West, Hawksworth emerged as a powerhouse talent and mentor—and the youngest chef to be inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame. His eponymous and hotly anticipated new restaurant is rising in the Hotel Georgia redevelopment in downtown Vancouver.—a.m.Hawksworth (opening 2009 in the Hotel Georgia, Vancouver), 866-602-6636.Foodies8Moe Mathieu, Executive Chef, Willow Hospitality Group, Regina. Born 1970, Fort Churchill, Manitoba. Off-duty nosh: Smokin’ Okies (2547 Quance St. E., Regina, 306-347-2800).The culinary road can be delightfully circuitous, so why wouldn’t Moe Mathieu pursue a wrestling scholarship in North Dakota, and then physical therapy training, followed by a tour of duty working a lobster joint in Maine? Mathieu eventually returned to his native Saskatchewan to celebrate what’s in the local larder: bison rib eye steaks, trout from Lake Diefenbaker, birch syrup, elm truffles and prairie staples like barley, millet and pink lentils. Sophisticated dishes like pickerel cheeks with fennel cream, fresh fennel and wild rice are part of his regular repertoire at the Willow on Wascana, but the Willow group’s new endeavour, the innovative Regina beer-pairing restaurant Beer Brothers, shows he’s still a Prairie boy at heart.—j.p.Willow on Wascana, 3000 Wascana Dr., Regina, 306-585-3663,; Beer Bros., 1801 Scarth St., Regina, 306-586-2337, Bouffard and Michaela Morris, Co-Owners, House Wine, Vancouver. Born 1975, Quebec City and 1972, Ottawa. Off-duty nosh: Bouffard loves cheese smokies from Oyama Sausage on Granville Island.These women of wine met for the first time as co-workers at Vancouver’s Marquis Wine Cellars in the summer of 2003. Their consulting company launched later that year and began simply, with wine tasting events and parties. It has evolved into a unique service that provides clients with everything from private and commercial cellar management to restaurant staff training and successful corporate team building services. Its growth mirrors our region’s growing, sophisticated passion for the grape.—a.m.House Wine, Vancouver, 604-790-3385/604-780-4788, Horen, Executive Chef, Aura at the Inn at Laurel Point, Victoria. Born 1974, Edmonton. Top tip: Add a bit of lemon juice to any sauce to reduce the amount of salt required and to bring out the flavours.Named the Canadian Chefs Federation’s chef of the year during a live cook-off in 2007, Horen is known for taking Calgary’s Catch to four-diamond status. A strong mentor to teams of young chefs during such competitions, he’s currently cultivating new restaurant Aura for the spotlight. His modern approach, using local ingredients with Japanese nuances and a flair for dramatic presentation, has all of Victoria taking notice.—s.s.Aura, 680 Montreal St., Victoria, 250-386-8721, Pateman and Cecilia Leong, Proprietors, Edible British Columbia, Vancouver. Born 1974, New Westminster, BC and 1974, Vancouver. Liquid asset: Pateman likes Knob Creek Bourbon.Recipe for an innovative culinary tourism business: mix one chef with 15 years experience (Pateman) with a pastry chef (Leong), add passion for regional cuisine, mix well with lashings of tourists. Yield: thousands of satisfied foodies forever changed by a taste of BC. What began as a culinary concierge service for international visitors now offers foodie kayaking adventures through the Gulf Islands, market tours of neighbourhoods like Chinatown and Commercial Drive and exclusive dinners and classes with chefs. With its local-first store at Granville Island, it has evolved into one of Western Canada’s most exciting food-centric companies and a model for other regions to emulate.—a.m.Edible BC, #565–1689 Johnson St., Granville Island, Vancouver, 604-662-3606, Bell, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Cabana Bar and Grille, Kelowna. Born 1973, Penticton. Memorable meal: Lunch with his mom at L’Atelier de Joel Robouchon, Paris.It turns out that you can go home again. Ned Bell has been a Vancouver chef, a Toronto chef, a Calgary chef and a TV chef. But last year he heeded his Okanagan roots and the call to gather the artisanal bounty of the area in a mass-appeal package. The result is the first Cabana Grille, a slick spot on Kelowna’s Lakeshore that has the energy of a hip, casually upscale room coupled with the deft touch of a master chef. If all goes according to plan, you may see a Cabana coming soon to a location near you.—n.m.Cabana Bar and Grille, 3799 Lakeshore Rd., Kelowna, 250-763-1955, Brand, Co-Owner, Boneta, Vancouver. Born 1975, Dundee, Scotland. Off-duty hangout: Phnom Penh (244 E. Georgia St., Vancouver, 604-734-8898).Brand has long been a legend among Vancouver bartenders (he was formerly at the award-winning Chambar), respected for his Jedi-like affinity with ingredients along with his ebullient sense of humour behind the bar. He won the inaugural Vancouver magazine bartender of the year award in 2005, leading the movement of Western mixologists crafting drinks with cheffish care and inspiring a new generation of emerging talents.—a.m.Boneta, 1 W. Cordova St., Vancouver, 604-684-1844, V