Meet the 40 finalists on our 10th annual Foodies of the Year shortlist.

For the 10th year in a row, we’ve scoured the West to find the chefs, sommeliers, producers, designers, owners, butchers, bartenders and vintners who have had a major impact on how we eat. These 40 candidates represent the best of the best, and from their ranks we’ll select our top 10 Western Living Foodies of the Year at a gala event on June 22. Until then, get acquainted with this year’s nominees and find out how they’re responsible for making Western Canada the most delicious place to live.

  1. Kate Allen, Kristen Lien and Kelly Morrison (Architects/Designers, Frank Architecture, Calgary) Is a restaurant’s design more important than the food? The designer trio behind Calgary’s most frequented rooms (Bridgette Bar, Pigeonhole, Clive Burger, Anju) makes a compelling case.
  1. Ignacio Arrieta and Marcelo Ramirez (Co-owners, La Mezcaleria and La Taqueria, Vancouver) With a new Hornby Street taco shop (open May 2017), this duo continues to serve some of the best Mexican food north of the border.
  1. Jason Barton-Browne (Chef, Hayloft, Airdrie) Airdrie? The north-of-Calgary suburb has been expanding like gangbusters, but it took Hayloft, and Chef Barton-Browne’s on-point locavorism to finally give the community an honest-to-goodness destination restaurant worthy of the drive from the city.
  1. Trevor Bird and Victor Straatman (Co-founders, Meatme, Vancouver) Chef Trevor Bird (Fable Kitchen and Fable Diner) and fellow co-founder Victor Straatman are changing the way we eat with their new virtual marketplace Meatme, where customers can band together as “steakholders” to buy in on a whole free-range, grass-fed animal from a local farm.
  1. Jayne and Suzanne Bradbury (Owners, Fort Common, Victoria) With their ever-expanding compound at Fort Common, these island sisters represent a new wave of place-making landlords, curating a foodie community with its tenants.
  1. Kevin Cam (Owner, North 53, Baijiu, Edmonton) Cam is quite literally raising the bar in Edmonton: his cocktail programs are fresh and innovative and his rooms are beyond cool (Baijiu is a mix of 1930s China and ’90s hip-hop vibes).
  1. May Chau (Chef, Golden Paramount Seafood, Richmond) In a city renowned for having the best Chinese food outside of China, Chau remains an anomaly—she’s one of the only female dim sum chefs in Vancouver.
  1. Darren and Sylvia Cheverie (Owners, Chartier, Edmonton) Chartier owners Sylvia and Darren Chevarie could have opened their French-Canadian themed eatery anywhere and knocked it out of the park with a better-than-maman take on Quebecois classics, but they chose a rough-hewn spot in a small burg southeast of Edmonton and in doing so created one of the greatest dining destinations in the province.
  1. Eva Choi and Dallas Southcott  (Owners, The Chocolate Lab, Calgary) The husband-and-wife team at this Chinatown chocolate shop attract big crowds with bold flavour combinations—cranberry caramel and Szechuan pepper, lemon yuzu, ginger spice—and hand-painted bonbons that are (almost) too pretty to eat.
  1. Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote & John Cote (Owners, Black Fox Distillery, Saskatoon) These grain farmers-turned-distillers run one of the few old school distilleries in Canada, with 90% of what goes into their products coming straight from the farm.
  1. Matt Dumayne (Winemaker, Okanagan Crush Pad, Summerland) This Kiwi-born winemaker has become the go-to consultant for small wineries looking to push the boundaries. You’ll find him making orange wines on Vancouver Island and elegant chardonnay in Naramata, but it’s Okanagan Crush pad where his skills (wild ferments, concrete eggs, low sulfur) are on full display.
  1. James Davison and Tania Friesen (Owners, Very Good Butchers, Victoria) “Plant-based butchery” might be the ultimate oxymoron, but that doesn’t stop the islanders from handcrafting innovate meat alternatives that even carnivores love.
  1. Jay Drysdale and Wendy Rose (Owners, Bella Wines, Okanagan) The sparkling wine specialists brought Western Canada’s first natural bubbles (made in the “ancestrale” style) to market, so we’d say that’s worthy of a toast.
  1. Marla Ebell (Owner, Hold General Store, Victoria) Marla Ebell has a true reverence for local farming. Inside Hold General Store you’ll find fresh herbs and produce from a 23-acre certified organic farm (run by Marla Ebell’s own grandparents), alongside finely crafted household goods (opinel knives, enamel bowls) and handmade herb-drying racks.
  1. Daniel Edler (Owner, 49 Below Ice Cream, Victoria) Catering to Victoria’s love of local and handmade, Edler delivers his unusually flavoured ice cream—think Vietnamese coffee, or toasted black sesame—to his club members’ doors.
  1. Nihal Elwan (Creator, Tayybeh, Vancouver) Wanting to help newly arrived refugees, Elwan created Tayybeh: A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine—a series of ticketed pop-up dinners prepared by Syrian women, with all funds going back to the cooks—with just a $500 neighbourhood grant, and a lot of volunteer hours on her part.
  1. Matthew Garrett and Simon Underwood (Owners, Moonshine DonutsDoughnut Party, Edmonton) This duo has brought the joy of the doughnut to vegans and gluten-free types, and more traditional gluten-lovers too—in less-than traditional flavours like Lemon Matcha Sugar, Rhubarb Cardamom and Pineapple Rum.
  1. Kelsey Johnson (Chef/Owner, Café Linnea, Edmonton) Bringing Scandi-cool to YEG, Johnson’s tipping-free café wows with simple preparations and seasonal, local ingredients—and the best brunch in town.
  1. Mandolyn Jonasson (Chef/Owner, Island SodaWorks, Qualicum Beach) Jonasson has been crafting naturally fermented, probiotic soda pop for years, but it’s her local and organic dishes (using ingredients sourced from her Vancouver Island farm) that have got out attention this year.
  1. Makoto Kimoto and Minoru Tamaru (Owners, Kingyo, Vancouver) Each of Kimoto and Tamura’s Japanese izakayas (Kingyo, Suika, Rajio and Raisu) has its own unique character—no wonder the Vancouver-based chain is now making waves in Seattle and Toronto, too.
  1. Eldric Kuzma (Owner, Aubade Coffee, Vancouver) Kuzma takes a no-nonsense, scientific approach to brewing coffee (his menu boasts only “Basic Coffee” and “Fancy Shit”) and has recently developed a line of AeroPress filters.
  1. Ed Lam (Chef, Yujiro Japanese, Winnipeg) Diners will queue in a Winnipeg winter for chef Ed Lam’s experimental ramen bowls, along with killer izakaya-style dishes and special sell-out-before-you-know-it omakase dinners.
  1. Jake Lee (Chef/Owner, Seoul Fried Chicken, Edmonton) Responsibility for 2016’s Year of Fried Chicken in YEG lands square on Lee’s shoulders, with his fan-favourite Korean take on the dish—Cilantro Lime, Garlic Soy and Golden Kari among the flavours on offer.
  1. Jinhee Lee (Executive Chef, Foreign Concept, Calgary) Not only is up-and-coming Jinhee Lee the Executive Chef of one of Calgary’s most popular new restaurants, but she won in the Culinary Championships Gold Medal Plates while having to cook dishes in her own apartment kitchen because Foreign Concept was still under construction.
  1. Karen McAthy (Chef/Owner, Blue Heron Creamery, Vancouver) In 2016 Karen McAthy (the former executive chef at Vancouver’s Graze restaurant) launched her own vegan cheese company, Blue Heron Creamery, and debuted her first book, The Art of Plant-Based Cheesemaking in spring of this year.
  1. Paul McGreevy (Chef, Starbelly Open Kitchen and Lounge, Calgary) McGreevy joined Starbelly last fall after the tragic passing of original chef Jonathan Sobol. In a short time, he’s been able to honour Sobol’s legacy by continuing the South Calgary restaurant on its admirable path of serving focussed and fresh farm-to-table dishes.
  1. Ryan O’Flynn (Executive Chef, The Guild, Calgary) A steady life as a hotel chef was thankfully derailed when O’Flynn won the Canadian Culinary Championships in 2015, which saw him leave for Toronto’s bright lights and then return to the helm Calgary’s new meat-centric spot.
  1. Mijune Pak (Blogger, Follow Me Foodie, Vancouver) Pak first made her mark in 2009, sharing her love of food in daily (!) 2,000-plus word blog posts, and this year she joined the cast of Top Chef Canada: All Stars as a resident judge (the first non-Toronto native to land the coveted position).
  1. JP Pedhirney (Executive Chef, Bridgette Bar, Calgary) Pedhirney graduated from SAIT before working at such notable spots as Rouge, River Café and Muse. But not even a stint at Chicago’s acclaimed Blackbird could sway him from his hometown, where he’s now helming Bridgette Bar—and serving some of the city’s most eclectic and playful food.
  1. Mark Perrier (Chef/Co-owner, Savio Volpe, Vancouver) Perrier’s flair with rustic Italian dishes (That pasta! That roast chicken!) has us thrilled whenever we manage to snag a seat in his perpetually busy room.
  1. Allan and Amanda Pineda (Founders, Filipino Pop-up Concepts Baon Manila Nights, Winnipeg) This chef husband-and-wife team started bringing elevated Filipino food to the forefront in Winnipeg with their monthly (and sold-out) pop-up dinners.
  1. Liam Quinn (Chef/Owner, The Salt and Pepper Fox, Victoria) The curator of meticulous menus for his lunch delivery service has just opened an as-much-in-demand takeout counter on the busy hub of Lower Johnson Street.
  1. Michael Robins (Executive Chef, Sous SolSydney’s, Winnipeg) At the recently opened Sous Sol you’ve got the heady atmosphere of a rustic Parisian speakeasy circa 1920, while at the equally revered Sydney’s at The Forks things are bright, luxe and airy in this fine-dining city jewel. Steering both with a mastery of sauce-making and adapted French cuisine is one impressive foodie, exec chef Michael Robins.
  1. Will Robinson (Owner, Hop n Hog, Clearwater, B.C.) Robinson makes his stamp on the small town of Clearwater—population 2,324—and those travelling the Yellowhead Route with both an epic southern-style barbecue and its offshoot, the Piglet, his earlier-rising food truck.
  1. Shane Taylor (Wine Director, CinCin, Vancouver) The self-effacing Taylor possesses one the great palates in the West—a fact underscored by being awarded Best Sommelier in B.C. earlier this year—but it’s his no-BS, value driven approach that’s made him the go-to sommelier for patrons who need the perfect bottle.
  1. Rebecca Teskey (Butcher/Owner, Farm and Field Butchers, Victoria) The former co-owner of Oak Bay’s The Village Butcher returns with a new craft-service meat counter right downtown, stocked with local, ethically sourced proteins.
  1. Leung Yiu Tong (Chef/Owner, Hoi Tong, Richmond) Not only is chef Leung Yiu Tong’s restaurant one of the best spots for traditional Cantonese dining in Western Canada, but the chef won a master chef title at the Chinese Restaurant Awards this year.
  1. Natasha Trowsdale (Mixologist, SpeakTiki pop-up program; bar manager, Alta, Edmonton) Trowsdale seems to be everywhere these days, whether behind the bar at Alta, overshadowing the food with a stellar drinks menu, or co-running a rum-centric cocktail pop-up called SpeakTiki.
  1. Joël Watanabe (Chef, Kissa Tanto, Vancouver) The Bao Bei chef could have played it safe with his new restaurant. Instead he and co-owner Tannis Ling decided to gamble with an Italian-Japanese hybrid and they’ve won big with what may be the hottest new restaurant in the West.
  1. Graham With (Head brewer, Parallel 49, Vancouver) One of the city’s first craft breweries, Parallel 49 is growing up under Graham With’s care, bringing home Canadian brewing awards and even launching a new restaurant this spring.