Garrett Bruce Martin
Concorde Entertainment Group, Calgary

There are the chain restaurants (consistent, dependable) and there are the independents (quirky, but maybe hit-or-miss), and never the twain shall meet—or so the conventional wisdom would have you believe. But if a friend were visiting Calgary and you wanted to draw up a list of must-hit spots for them, it’s pretty likely that your roster would be heavy on rooms that have been touched by Martin’s oversight as culinary director of special projects: Model Milk, Major Tom, Pigeonhole. And so on. And that wouldn’t even hit on the rooms that lie farther afield, like the top of the Calgary Tower, for pete’s sake!

Garrett Bruce Martin. Photo by Britta Kokemor.
Garrett Bruce Martin. Photo by Britta Kokemor.

One fact that underscores this unstoppable march is that, between the time we longlisted Martin for this award (thanks to the success of Major Tom, the Concorde Group’s 18th venue to open) and the time that you’re reading this, the team has actually opened yet another new spot. But it’s the rooms under Martin’s purview that each inspire in their own, unique ways that belie the fact that they have him as a common thread—a testament to someone who knows enough to give his chefs the freedom to create a corporately owned restaurant that never feels corporate, and who nonetheless keeps the necessary level of focus to ensure that the group has no weak links.

Food for Thought with Garrett

What’s the most useful tool in the kitchen?

A cake tester. Once I learned how to use one to check the internal temperatures on meat and fish, it gave me all the confidence to cook proteins with precision.

You can only have one cookbook for the rest of your life: what is it?

Bar Tartine, or the original Eleven Madison Park cookbook.

Best cookbook released during the pandemic?

I love Maenam in Vancouver so I picked up their cookbook. Angus An’s food is some of the best in the country.

Once travel is fully up and running, where’s the one restaurant you’d love
to travel to?

Harbor House Inn in California, just south of Mendocino. It looks incredible.

THE WHOLE STORY: Introducing Western Living’s 2022 Foodies of the Year